Evaluate Your Communication Skills When Applying to B-School

The so-called hard skills of financing, accounting, supply chain management are widely available at business schools across the board, but it seems the soft-set skills, such as the ability to work with and through others, need a boost.

Recruiters have noticed that even students from the best schools can’t always communicate well, or don’t know how to express their concerns in a frank but non-aggressive way during presentations.

Clear thinking and effective communication are closely linked, and a new article in the Washington Post by , senior associate dean at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, discusses the importance of having those strong communication skills that employers are looking for in their new hires.

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“Communication skills are fundamental in reaching an audience, influencing them, and sharing your message,” noted Arne Sorenson, president and chief executive of Marriott International, in a recent talk given at the Smith School.

“If you’re a master at running a spreadsheet or a financial model, but really don’t have the ability to understand the assumptions that are in it, or debate the assumptions in it,” Sorenson said, “then you’re not going to go as far as you could go otherwise.”

If you’re applying to business school in the fall, you’ll impress the admissions committee right out of the gate if you can demonstrate that you already possess strong communication skills. But if you need to do some work in this area, don’t fret.

There are many ways you can improve your listening, speaking, and writing skills, so take a long at the original article for Russell’s tips.  Also, reach out to mentors or supervisors whose communication skills you admire and ask for advice on how they read their audience, navigate meetings, and how they have cultivated their own interpersonal abilities for business success.

Fortunately, opportunities to communicate present themselves on a daily basis, and it’s an area we can work to improve for our entire lives.

Image credit: iComputer Denver  (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
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