A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is an incredibly worthwhile pursuit to make yourself more marketable in the business world. From financial analysis and strategy courses to managerial leadership and project management classes, an MBA experience can teach you the skills needed to move up the corporate ladder. Additionally, you’ll better understand topics such as accounting and economics, further developing your ability in many key business disciplines. Earning an MBA will demonstrate to potential employers that you are not only motivated but also have dedication and excellent problem-solving skills. The best part? You’ll often come out on the other side ready with hard skills that will be immensely beneficial in your career.
What Are Hard Skills?
Hard skills are essential tools in a person’s professional arsenal. Hard skills are specialized capabilities that involve hands-on practical knowledge, such as a skill set in a particular industry or profession. Examples of hard skills for MBA students include financial literacy to organizational management and public relations. Hard skills enable individuals to perform unique and goal-oriented tasks, such as setting up computers with specific software or analyzing the effectiveness of business strategies.
Hard skills are usually proven through completed courses, certificates, licenses, or previous experience in a given field. These abilities demonstrate a person’s mastery of tasks involving technology, tools, and applications within their field. In some cases, they require extensive training and practice. Knowing the right hard skills can make you a stand-out applicant when applying for jobs related to your professional scope or desired career path.
How Are Hard Skills Different from Soft Skills?
Hard skills and soft skills are two distinct kinds of abilities, each serving its own purpose. Hard skills refer to tangible abilities with measurable results – think typing speed or fluency in a foreign language. Soft skills relate more to intangible qualities, such as interpersonal problem-solving, adaptability, and communication skills. One isn’t more important than the other; instead, depending on your role, it may be necessary to tap into both sets of skills.
How Will an MBA Help You Develop Your Skills?
An MBA is a great way to gain the knowledge, skills, and credentials needed to reach career goals. It provides specialized education in the business world, covering everything from leadership and management to problem-solving and analytical thinking. An MBA offers courses that enhance your critical thinking and communication abilities while developing an improved perspective on business operations. This allows you to practice these skills within a supportive learning environment and become proficient before implementing them in real-life scenarios. Understanding business technology systems, emerging markets, and advancements will give job seekers a competitive edge when entering today’s increasingly complex job market.
The Top 8 Hard Skills for MBA Students
Pursuing an MBA can equip you with an array of essential skills and knowledge used in today’s competitive business world. With the enormous capacity to drive innovation and growth within corporations, having an MBA comes with additional advantages such as professional connections, access to recruitment opportunities, competitive salary packages, and career mobility. An MBA program may require a formidable commitment, but it can offer considerable rewards, especially if they are strategically considered over time. The following are some of the top MBA hard skills students can expect to develop and hone while in their program:
1. Financial Forecasting & Analysis
Financial forecasting and analysis is an invaluable tool for businesses. It is the process of predicting future financial performance based on a combination of projections and trending data. Analysis helps to identify areas for improvement, assess the current economic state, and create an actionable plan for gaining desired outcomes. These insights give business owners the power to proactively make decisions that will improve their short- and long-term bottom line. With financial forecasting and analysis, organizations can accurately forecast when funding becomes necessary, how to boost income, determine the ROI of investments, set smart financial goals, gain insight into their markets, and track KPIs with precision. Ultimately, this allows them to thrive in their industry by confidently making informed decisions.
2. Data Analysis
Data analysis takes raw data – such as customer surveys, sales numbers, and web traffic – and turns it into actionable insights, allowing businesses to make better-informed decisions about pricing strategies, product innovations, and more. At its core, data analysis is about understanding the underlying trends in data sets and finding ways to use that information for a competitive advantage. Data analysis allows businesses to improve their marketing tactics and increase their profits when done correctly. Additionally, data analysis helps companies save time and money by improving the decision-making process between departments by ensuring everyone works from the same set of facts. Data analysis thus plays a vital role in helping any organization reach its goals faster.
3. Brand Storytelling
Brand storytelling is a powerful tool in the modern business world. It is the art of communicating the story, goals, values, and personality behind an organization, product, or service. It is an essential hard skill for MBA grads because it helps build relationships between organizations and their target audiences. For example, people may more strongly relate to an organization when they learn its story – how it began and what message it seeks to spread through its products or services. Brand storytelling can also help identify unique value propositions in the marketplace and create content that resonates with customers. Having skilled MBA graduates who understand how to tell brand stories effectively can give organizations an edge over market competitors.
4. Social Media for Growth
Social media has become essential for business growth, and MBA graduates need to understand how to leverage it effectively. From using it as a platform for building relationships with potential customers and partners to building an authoritative brand presence, social media offers an incredible array of opportunities for scaling businesses quickly and efficiently. Even more compelling is that the success of these efforts can typically be measured in real-time, making it an incredibly valuable tool from a marketing perspective, as well. In short, developing strong social media skills will help MBA grads make a splash in the corporate world by bringing innovative solutions gained from their burgeoning knowledge base to the table.
5. Market Research
Market research is an analysis of the market and potential customer needs. It includes studying current trends, competitor analysis, customer segmentation, and demographic data. This knowledge helps to inform product development, marketing strategy, and goal setting. MBA holders are expected to be forward thinkers and strategists who can help their organization capitalize on market opportunities to gain a competitive edge. As such, market research skills like data collection and analysis are essential for MBA grads; without this knowledge, their ability to effectively strategize new opportunities may be limited. With a thorough understanding of the market landscape, which is gleaned from competent market research techniques, MBA grads can more accurately contribute to business decisions that will help set their organizations up for long-term success.
Budgeting is the process of allocating resources, expenses, and income over a specific period and creating and following a financial plan or budget that reflects your goals. As an MBA grad with business acumen, having budgeting skills demonstrates to potential employers that you have strong organizational abilities and ensures that you can effectively manage resources in line with organizational goals. Practical budgeting skills help to predict risks effectively, satisfy stakeholders, plan for future expenditures, allocate resources efficiently, and track performance closely. An effective budgeting process means having better control of an organization’s finances and avoiding putting the organization in a vulnerable position due to mismanagement or unforeseen circumstances. Thankfully, this is another hard skill an MBA student can expect to learn in business school.
7. Project Management
Project management is the practice of leading a team to the successful completion of a project or goal. It involves knowing how to plan, organize, direct, and control resources — such as time, human capital, and money — throughout the life cycle of a project. Project managers must be adept at setting deadlines and milestones for a project, collaborating with stakeholders, troubleshooting during development, and ensuring that goals are met on time, on budget, and within quality standards. As a critical hard skill for MBA grads — who are typically expected to lead complex projects upon joining an organization — the ability to properly manage projects can be invaluable in any job market and career path. Mastering project management principles can also help equip MBA grads with the knowledge to delegate tasks effectively, mitigate risk, monitor performance metrics, and achieve excellent results from any given initiative.
Logistics is an invaluable hard skill for MBA graduates and refers to managing activities and operations within a supply chain. It helps businesses maximize efficiency and minimize costs by streamlining their existing systems’ flow. Logistics encompasses numerous areas such as procurement, warehousing, shipping, and inventory control – all essential areas to monitor to maintain successful operations. Without proper logistics, it would be difficult to effectively manage resources needed in production and distribution, leading to higher costs, shipment delays, and other unexpected problems. Knowledge of logistics is a skill that will help MBA grads capitalize on the best use of material resources that are available for running a business successfully with efficiency and efficacy.
Launch Your New Career with UTC’s MBA Program
Take the next step in your career advancement with The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Gary W. Rollins College of Business MBA program. With its comprehensive approach to diverse business topics, this program will equip you with the leadership and management foundation needed to become an effective leader in many challenging environments. Experienced faculty combine real-world insight and research-based knowledge from their professional experience to deliver engaging lectures personalized to your needs. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to launch your new career – sign up for UTC’s Gary W. Rollins College of Business MBA program today!