Career Tips

Enhance Career Skills Employers Seek

An Interview with Ana Herranz, Director of Career Education, IE Business School

Competing for a job in the current labour market is like taking part in an obstacle race inwhich only the very best getto cross the winning-line and nobody can afford the luxury of making a mistake.

What makes someone the best person for a job?
A good education and a good academic record is important, but that is no longer enough, because there are plenty of well-educated people out there.

What comes next?
The next step is to demonstrate what people in the recruitment sector call “competencies”,
namely desirable traits and skills which firms seek in their employees. Companies define the
competencies they seek for each position and evaluate possible job-person matches during the selection process.

How do companies know if a candidate really has a competency or not?
Only past behaviour can guarantee future performance. Hence a candidate can demonstrate
that they have a particular competency by showing how they have dealt with a specific problem in the past.

What competencies are most commonly sought by recruiters?
It depends on the company and position in question, but certain competencies are applicable to the majority of cases.

  • Teamwork: the spirit of collaboration and cooperation with others, of forming part of a group, working together - as opposed to working as an individual or competitively.
  • Client-orientation: the desire to help or serve clients and to meet their needs. This involves focusing on discovering and meeting client needs.
  • Goal-orientation: the need to do a job well or to raise the bar.
  • Communication: the ability to transmit information, ideas and opinions clearly and convincingly, while being receptive to those of others. Most organizations seek people who are capable of working well in a team, seeing the client as the driver of a business, carrying out assigned tasks skillfully, and communicating in an effective manner.
  • Creativity: candidates with an open mind who are capable of adopting an innovative approach to problems and who are flexible and skilled in the way they respond to external change and thus able to adapt easily to new situations.
  • Global Mindset: The capacity to work in multicultural and diverse ethnic environments, but also to make decisions that take into account the global impact they will have and how they will meet the needs of each group within the organization.
  • Strategic Vision: the ability to link long-term vision and broad concepts with day-to-day workplace realities, and to relate current actions or daily tasks with strategies (internal and external) or with long-term perspectives.
  • Relationships management: the skills to build new relations and maintain existing ones by creating synergies and generating new business.
  • Commitment: a willingness to learn about, assume and adopt the company’s mission and values and the challenges involved in day-to-day work.

Thus, the emerging competencies sought by companies can be summed up as an integral
vision of people, ideas, and cultures, the ability to see the global dimension of problems, as well as a capacity to come up with innovative solutions which are aligned with the company’s core values.

How does an MBA help develop these competencies?
An MBA is not a programme you do on your own. Class preparation requires students to work in a team to solve business case-studies before discussing them in class. As the programme progresses, proposed solutions are no longer based on marketing or finance, but become broader and more strategic. The student begins to think globally, taking into consideration not only how a solution will affect a particular functional area, but how it will impact upon the company as a whole.

The classroom is a laboratory where students seek solutions to problems which require them to create, innovate and assume risks, whilst receiving continuous feedback, class-after-class, from peers with different ideas and experiences. This constant feedback is key to the MBA’s intensive learning process; something which is all but impossible to replicate in any working environment. Without feedback there is no learning process. It enables students to improve quickly by learning from mistakes. Thus the MBA is a continuous improvement
process, not only for the obvious reasons such as the acquisition of knowledge and skills, but also since the ability to integrate both brings an innovative, integral, and global vision of the world. Everyone who has completed an MBA programme knows that there is a definite before and after effect.



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