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Four Skills European Employers Want in Business School Graduates

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Whether you’re looking for a job at a top investment bank, a renowned multinational, or even a fast-growing tech company, Europe has a lot to offer. From London’s financial skyscrapers to Berlin’s so-called Silicon Allee, there’s something for everyone.

If you’re considering business school, it’s never too early to start thinking about your post-graduation career options. So what are European employers looking for? What skills do you need to succeed in business today?

Skills employers want in Europe

Here are four important skills employers want in Europe, and details about how a business school degree can help you master them.

1. The ability to demonstrate strong leadership skills

Tesla has Elon Musk; Amazon has Jeff Bezos. Many great companies have been built around great motivational leaders: the sort of people who can stand at the front of the room and inspire their co-workers and employees.

For European employers, leadership is a must-have skill. According to the Corporate Recruiters Survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), 82 percent of employers look for learning, motivation, and leadership, ranking top among the skills business leaders seek.

Contrary to the belief that you are born a leader, business schools believe that leadership is something you can learn, practice, and hone. Business schools are often dubbed “leadership factories” on account of the large number of C-suite executives who graduate with MBAs or business master’s degrees.

At London Business School (LBS), leadership forms a central component of the MBA program. The Leadership Launch track runs through the program, which helps students to harness important soft and hard skills such as pitching, emotional intelligence, negotiation, and leading through conflict.

Given the imbalance of female leaders at top companies, many schools aim to give female-specific leadership training. ESADE Business School in Spain has launched a Women Mentorship Program, pairing female MBA students with female role models in different industries.

For men and women alike, leadership programs are the first step of mastering leadership and understanding your own style of leadership. Learning how you lead and how you can develop your leadership capabilities will help accelerate your career success.

2. A tendency to work well with others

While many fear the rise of the machines and the possibility of artificial intelligence replacing humans in many automatable tasks, there is one key thing that sets humans apart—people skills (it’s even in the name).

Consulting, finance, technology, or whatever your career path of choice, you’ll be working in teams of people, and this will involve opportunities to work with, influence, and learn from one another.

Read more about how companies need managers with interpersonal skills now more than ever.

“With businesses changing more rapidly and becoming more global and diverse, individuals need to focus on honing their collaboration, leadership, and communication skills just as much as their abilities to solve problems and make business-critical decisions efficiently,” explains Sophie Schaefer, career counselor at ESMT Berlin.

European employers rank interpersonal skills highly, with 79 percent of employers actively looking for them in their business school hires, according to GMAC’s research.

This involves listening, being supportive, and giving and receiving feedback. For EDHEC Business School professor and leadership coach Julia Milner, this all falls under the idea of leading as coaching. “You need to be able to see the best in people, see their strengths, place them according to their strengths and interests and passions in order to create better workplaces where everyone thrives,” she explains.

3. The ability to think strategically and problem-solve quickly

Top business professionals don’t just do—they strategize. Decisions are considered, planned, mapped out, and assessed by the teams of people who are responsible for making them.

Being able to strategize and think strategically will stand you in very good stead in the world of business. If you are helping to deliver a new product, strategy will involve assessing competitive advantage, profitability, and market demand; if you are involved in taking over a company, managing organizational change and innovation will form your strategy.

Strategy is one of the key skills employers want: 57 percent of European recruiters valued strategic and system skills, while 52 percent valued an ability to manage strategy and innovation in their potential recruits.

Preparing for the GMAT™ exam is a great exercise in strategy. Test-takers must practice and prepare for the numerous topic areas on the business school entrance exam. The actual test gives applicants a limited amount of time to answer a variety of challenging questions. Test prep experts recommend timing strategies to give yourself the best shot at a top mark.

4. A combination of hard and soft skills

It sounds obvious, but having a grounding in business fundamentals is important for workplace success. Employers don’t want to waste their time explaining the basics; they want you to come prepared.

Fifty-one percent of European employers desired a knowledge of business functions in potential hires. Hard knowledge—like accounting, finance, and marketing—as well as soft business skills—like pitching, negotiating, and presenting—are some of the top business skills in demand.

In terms of a rigorous introduction to business, business schools are second to none. For students looking to top up their education with business knowledge straight after their bachelor’s, you can choose a pre-experience master’s. For working professionals craving job acceleration or even a career switch, an MBA is perfect with three to five years of work experience.

Read more about the key differences between a Master in Management and MBA.

Find career success in Europe with the GMAT exam

Whatever course you’re looking for to boost your career, the GMAT exam is a good place to start. As well as testing your proficiency in fundamental Qualitative and Quantitative skills, the GMAT exam offers a connection to business schools to start exploring the right options for you, tailored to your own career ambitions. For many, it’s the first step on the path to career success.

Are you ready to take the GMAT exam? Reserve your testing appointment today.

Wondering how much time you need to spend preparing for the exam? Use our interactive tool to estimate your required study time and receive a study plan tailored to your available time.