Soft Skills Make the Difference

In a recent article from The Wall Street Journal, it was reported that a growing number of employers are expecting to hire more business school graduates. Compared to five years ago, in 2009, the number of employers expecting to hire business school graduates has climbed by 30%! While this is certainly good news for those preparing for life after business school, the article also mentions what employers are really looking for when they're searching for that perfect candidate.

Many of us would assume our dream employer would want us, above all else, to be experts in our chosen concentration: know how to find arbitrage and exploit it, how to swiftly thwart a cyber attack, how to build and sustain consumer loyalty, how to evaluate potential acquisitions. However, according to this particular article and many discussions with recruiters and HR managers, employers are in search of more. Of course the technical knowledge is important, but it's the soft skills that scream, "Hire Me! You Need Me!" 

Thankfully, here at the University of Illinois at Chicago Liautaud Graduate School of Business, there is curriculum in place to assist us in gaining and maintaining these crucial soft skills. Improv and Leadership (MBA 590) and Professional Presence (BA 420) have been created to bridge this "soft skills" gap. When asked about The Wall Street Journal article, the creator of this new curriculum, Professor Michael Popowitz said, "The challenge you all will face is that most business interactions are not completely rehearsed, they are to a large measure spontaneous - you show up, you do your best, you learn from others, and from your own mistakes, and hopefully those mistakes are not too big! These courses create a safe laboratory for you to experiment with the elements of your own professional presence."

Whether you are making provisions to complete your first semester or gearing up for your last, I implore you to consider taking Improv and Leadership or Professional Presence. The difference between taking the course and not could very well be the difference between that offer call or that rejection email.