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Learning the Soft Skills

In a survey of employers conducted by the business school admissions website TopMBA, “soft skills” ranked among the most important attributes recruiters look for in potential employees. The four most valuable soft skills, according to these 5,000 recruiters? Interpersonal skills, communication skills, strategic thinking, and leadership.

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Because companies are now so heavily structured around teams — whether cross-functional or multi-national — it is no longer enough for employees to merely have all the technical skills. What really helps employees succeed in their jobs, gain promotions and take on greater leadership roles is behavior, communication, and teamwork.

While you may look to a graduate degree to shore up knowledge in a specific discipline, like accountancy, finance, or global logistics, a strong focus on your development as a leader can make a crucial difference for your career, both in the short-and long-term.

At the W. P. Carey School, the soft skills that so often support and enhance leadership are woven into every facet — from coursework and teamwork — of your graduate experience. The end result is that you gain so much more than technical skills.

“Success in the business world, if you’re going to move beyond being a functional specialist, requires that you work with, lead, inspire, and manage other people,” explains Gerry Keim, chair of the W. P. Carey Department of Management. “Recruiters tell us how impressed they are with the technical knowledge of our students. But that’s not the real differentiator; what they’re really impressed with is how well they work together in teams.”

Keim says developing the soft skills pays off instantly for our grad students. “I can’t tell you how often I’ve talked to recruiters after our students have completed their summer internship and they say, ‘We had your students in teams with students from the very best business schools in North America, and very often, your student ended up being the leader of that team. They were surprised. I wasn’t.”