In today’s very competitive job market, graduate students, especially those with limited work experience, must develop an array of skills that will help them to stand out in a crowd of freshly minted graduates all competing for the same available jobs.
I have seen a common thread — business schools are doing a fine job in preparing their graduates with solid core skills, whether in accounting, finance, marketing, or operations.
Some schools make an attempt in leveraging those skills by adding management, leadership, negotiation, business ethics, and similar subjects to strengthen the available tool-sets of their students.
To prepare for today’s competitive jobs market, here are five recommendations:
1) Obtaining an advanced degree is a smart career booster — it is often needed, and sometimes even required, for many roles in the business world. Companies often seek graduates with an MBA, masters in finance, or an advanced technology degree in engineering or computer science.
In general, multinational companies like to recruit candidates who have a global mind-set and have experience studying and/or working abroad.
For example, according to an article in the New York Times, employers in China are very interested in recruiting prospective employees who have a Chinese undergraduate degree and an MBA from a business school in the US.
Understanding global economic complexity is a prerequisite to being able to interact and negotiate with international partners.
2) Previous business experience of one-to-three years — and success in that field — is often on a recruiter’s check-list.
3) A recent survey of recruiters, conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), listed the top-six skills-sets that employers seek. They they are, in rank order: leadership, team-working, communication, problem-solving, and analytical/quantitative skills; ethical behavior.
4) Recruiters value highly soft-skills, such as: demonstrating initiative; having great interpersonal skills; and being tactful.
5) Finally, it’s a wise idea to make career choices that are good for not only the next year or two, but for the long-term as well. The reputation you are able to build within your industry and in your occupation will be important throughout your career.
As Warren Buffett once quipped, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”
John Mattson serves as the director of the Graduate Career Development Center at the A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management at the University of California — Riverside
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