Considering the popularity of the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree for graduate college students in the U.S., MBA grads may want to stand out in a crowd, and knowing what employers are looking for is key. The degree costs close to $70,000 per year at the top schools, but one in three of the employers surveyed by the Financial Times (FT) said they struggled to find business school graduates with the right skills.

The Five Most Important Skills Employers Look for in MBA Grads

FT asked 48 employers from around the globe and across various sectors to rate 29 so-called soft and hard skills according to importance. They found the most important skills employers look for are as follows:

  • The ability to work with a wide variety of people
  • Time management and ability to prioritize
  • Understanding digital impact on businesses
  • Ability to build, sustain and expand a network of people
  • Ability to solve complex problems

"The five most important skills were not core MBA subjects, such as finance and marketing, but more loosely defined qualities, or so-called soft skills," according to FT in a report describing the survey's results. "Of these, employers said the ability among MBA graduates to manage their time effectively was the most difficult to find."

The Five Hardest Skills for Employers to Find in MBA Grads

Interestingly, soft skills also rose to the top when Bloomberg surveyed 1,320 job recruiters at more than 600 companies in a 2015 report to find out which skills employers want but can’t find. The most desired skills according to the survey were strategic thinking, creative problem-solving, leadership skills, communication skills, analytical thinking and the ability to work collaboratively.

But MBAs are also expected to be more than problem solvers with great interpersonal skills. Employers surveyed by FT rated skills according to how difficult they are to find in MBA grads when hiring, and the top five are:

  • The ability to use social media
  • The ability to train/coach others
  • Financial forecasting
  • Big data analysis
  • Brand storytelling skills.

(See also: The Real Cost of an MBA.)