A career in business is bound to be exciting, no matter if your specialism is marketing, sales, strategy or finance. However, it’s also an ever-changing area: the business world of today is very different to 20 years ago, and every year the gap increases. To succeed in this complex world, business students need a few key skills.
To help you succeed in your future career, we’ve identified six key skills that business students and graduates need to succeed. Whether you’ve just started your business degree or you’re in the process of looking for your first job, these soft skills can help you get ahead.
Surprisingly, you won’t find any core business skills – like economics or pitching – on this list. With the business world changing daily, it’s all about soft skills – those core skills that could be applicable to any business role. Practising these six soft skills isn’t just a way to grant future success, but also to future-proof your career.
6 Skills Business Students Need
Working in business isn’t a solo effort. In reality, businesses only succeed because of collaboration, whether that’s between colleagues or different companies entirely.
That’s why, if you want to work in business, networking is a key skill you’ll need to cultivate. Networking is a broad term and includes the ability to meet other business people, make meaningful and valuable connections with the right people, and ask for advice when needed. As such, communication, listening skills, and self-confidence are all important when it comes to networking.
Networking skills are particularly important if you’re planning on working in entrepreneurship or in startups. In this environment, networking is vital for getting your company off the ground, and meeting other leaders will help you feel more confident in the world of entrepreneurship.
2. critical thinking
Critical thinking is another broad skill that essentially means the ability to receive lots of different information and evaluate it successfully. In any business role, you’ll likely have to juggle a lot of different responsibilities, and knowing how to accurately respond to information and weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of decisions is key. That’s why critical thinking is considered one of the most important workplace skills.
Strong critical thinking skills will help you to make business decisions, assess responses to crises, and stay flexible and open to new ideas. To improve your critical thinking, work on the ability to see potential consequences of decisions and don’t be scared of making mistakes – that’s the only way to learn.
3. Problem Solving
It might sound obvious, but as a business person, you’re inevitably going to face a lot of complex situations. Especially in a managerial role, there may be times when you have to solve problems for your department or company, and learning how to do this successfully will only make you better at your job.
However, problem-solving skills also go hand-in-hand with creativity. Finding a solution doesn’t just mean choosing the easiest way out; it could mean working around complex obstacles. Consequently, you have to learn not just how to problem solve, but to creatively problem solve.
There are some steps you can take to creatively problem solve in any given situation. Firstly, define the scope of your problem: without this, you won’t be able to assess what is possible. Next, learn how to brainstorm without limits – go as far as your brain will go, within the scope of the problem. Finally, generate the pros and cons of each solution to help identify the solution with the least flaws.
4. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is split into two parts: the ability to identify emotions in yourself, and the ability to identify them in others. Both of these are equally important in business, especially if you’re in a leadership position.
Knowing your emotions and how to manage them will only make you better at working in a team and navigating crises. Conversely, being able to see emotions in others means you can help resolve any conflict within teams and mentor others. These skills are critical for anyone working in business, but working on your emotional intelligence will also make you a better communicator and give you the ability to remain cool-headed under pressure.
5. Time Management
As with any job, working in business can be stressful. Whether you’re working in a junior or senior role, you’ll probably have a lot of responsibilities and tasks to accomplish. Each day may be different, meaning you’ll have to learn how to manage your own time.
Consequently, time management skills are one of the most important soft skills that business students need. You’ll pick up some time management tips at university or business school. However, you may find that you need to adapt these in future roles. Some ways you can practice managing your time effectively include setting daily, weekly, or monthly goals and prioritising your tasks depending on urgency.
Finally, business people also need to be adaptable. This skill will make it easier for you to react to changes in your environment, work, or colleagues. For example, as a business graduate you might soon be faced with your first full-time job, and knowing how to take on that new role with the least stress will make you more successful.
Being successful at adaptability requires a number of other skills including teamwork, communication, problem-solving, and collaboration. To become more adaptable, you should practice asking for help when you need it and try to become more aware of the changes you may face, and you might react to them.
Working in business requires students and graduates to have more than just technical knowledge. To succeed, you’ll also have to work on your soft skills, including the six key skills we’ve detailed here.
The good news is that these skills are valuable for any kind of job. It doesn’t matter if you switch roles or industries later down the line; as long as you’ve developed these core skills you can put them into practice wherever you are.
Are you curious about more critical skills that students need today? Have a read of our article.