KENNESAW, Ga. | Apr 21, 2022
By Robin Cheramie
Dean, Michael J. Coles College of Business
It is extremely difficult to distinguish yourself in the job search. With hundreds of applicants vying for the same position, hiring managers are looking for easy reasons to whittle the many resumes they receive down to a select few. For those lucky enough to get an interview, the next challenge is succinctly “making the case” why you are the best choice for the role. Removing lingering doubts from a hiring manager’s mind are critical. You do not want the manager looking at you and saying, “Yes, you would be great at our company, but…”
How do you assuage those concerns before they arise? One solution is to try to see things from the hiring manager’s perspective. What is the interviewer looking for in a potential hire? What could be the one aspect of your career holding you back from that next great opportunity?
Companies seek “job-ready” candidates. Specifically, they are seeking individuals who have the relevant, industry-specific knowledge and skills to successfully fulfill the specific job responsibilities. Sounds clear-cut, but in reality, this means more than simply a list of skills.
According to research from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), hiring managers are evaluating job candidates based on functional expertise as well as soft skills. This includes those abilities to think critically, communicate effectively, work with people, and maintain a positive, flexible attitude.
The research is not suggesting that technical skills – such as knowledge of financial forecasting, budgeting, and operations management – are not important; what it does mean is businesses are less interested in what new hires know than how they think.
GMAC conducted a survey, asking employers to list the general skills required of MBA graduates they hire. The top five general skills indicated were all soft skills, including:
The responses show how companies want employees who can effectively apply their knowledge and skills in today’s evolving and complex business environment.
Being able to share how you solved (or mitigated) a particular problem or obstacle in the workplace is a great way to demonstrate your business acumen. Examples like this (be sure to include facts and figures!) highlight your leaderships skills, thought processes, and focus on business outcomes.
At KSU’s Coles College of Business, we apply this same criteria to the design of our MBA degrees, training students to hone both their hard and soft skills through many interactive opportunities, including team projects and hands-on competitions.
For example, students in our graduate Operations Management course can compete in the LINKS Global Supply Chain Competition, which is a simulation that tasks students with managing high-pressure supply chain decisions for a manufacturing company.
Competitions like LINKS teach students valuable skills like how to set inventory levels, plan transportation, and procure materials. Participants also learn important lessons about working as part of a team to solve challenges and thrive outside of their comfort zones.
Employers are seeking new hires who can adapt to change, solve complex problems, and work well with a diverse group of peers and stakeholders. Earning an MBA degree remains one of the best ways for professionals to convey knowledge of and ability to apply hard and soft skills. Through the knowledge and soft skills development offered in our program, you remove the “Yes, but…” from the promotion decision. Honing in-demand qualities truly distinguishes you in a crowded marketplace.
Dr. Robin Cheramie is Dean of the Michael J. Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University. She previously served as director for the Michael A. Leven School of Management, Entrepreneurship and Hospitality, and chair of the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship. Her work has appeared in Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management, Journal of Vocational Behavior, Human Relations, Journal of Managerial Psychology, Career Development International, and International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management.