W. P. Carey Alumni Share 8 Highly Valued Skills

We asked W. P. Carey Alumni: What skills do employers value most for entry-level business positions?

Here is what they shared:

  • Analytical Skills
  • Data Skills 
  • Communication Skills
  • Ability to Learn New Systems and Tools
  • Competency in Excel
  • Culture-Fitness and Strategic Thinking
  • Data Management and Automation
  • Basics of Digital Marketing

Analytical Skills

There are several skills managers look for when hiring for their teams, and being able to think analytically is always on the top of the list. I know you may hear people call this out a lot – but what does it mean? Think of it this way – no matter what role you start your career in, the most successful people are those who can break down complex problems into sustainable solutions. There isn’t a better moment I have during my work week than walking into a room and observing a team break down problem statements or business requirements into a series of cool solutions.

So a key piece of advice – be able to articulate and demonstrate this skill during your interview process. Doing so will help you stand out from other candidates.

Patrick McCormick, BS Management ’94, Imagine Communications

Data Skills

As an employer in the tech industry, I always look for talent who can analyze, interpret and visualize data. Do you have the aptitude to seek out data to answer complex questions? Do you have the skills to analyze and make sense of disparate data to aid decision-making? In my opinion, applicants who can demonstrate such skills are at an advantage. 

Champa Magesh, MBA MSIM ‘01, Trainline

Communication Skills

Today, the average person struggles with information overload. There are multiple forums of communication and often little time to reset. The ability for you to communicate your point in a clear and concise manner will enable your recipient to process that information and move forward with ease. A good example is if you are asked what time it is, tell someone the time, not how the watch was made. If someone needs more detail, they will ask for it, and appreciate you more for your brevity! 

Erin Maniatis, BS Supply Chain Management ‘00, Walgreen Co

Ability to Learn New Systems and Tools

Every new grad entering the workforce will use new systems and tools to make them more efficient in their role. The ability to understand how systems work, their dependencies, and why they are valuable can really help you excel in your role. From ERPs, CRMs to Ticketing systems, and bug tracking tools there will be no less than a dozen systems that you will need to understand and become an expert in. 

Brad Powers, SCM CIS ‘03, Passport Labs, Inc

Competency in Excel  

Although it is true that being a great communicator and having an ability to network is critical in business, there is one skill I’ve seen that helps new employees become superstars quickly: Excel.

While in college, take any chance you can to learn Excel and Excel-based tools (VBA, etc.), then practice, practice, and practice. Learn how to use Pivot tables, Sumif formulas, and graphs. All companies have data, but it is only when it becomes information that it is helpful. By improving your Excel skills, you can help drive informed decisions.

David Sharp, BS CIS/BS Accountancy ‘05 & MBA Supply Chain ‘07 Ocotillo Holdings

Understanding Culture and Strategic Thinking

Before entering the MBA program I had read several books for business and marketing executives on what was needed most at the C-suite level and consistently read a lot about Culture. During my MBA we had courses on Organizational Behavior and Strategic Leadership that really zoned in on some pillars around thinking strategically as well as understanding culture, and power dynamics, and that is the key to being able to implement strategy successfully. I walked away understanding that they really do go hand in hand, you don’t need one or the other, but rather both are critical to success.

In my world, when interviewing for entry-level roles, I am constantly looking for both a culture fit as well as someone that thinks strategically. I often ask questions that there aren’t necessarily “right” answers for, but rather a method of thinking that demonstrates they are strategic thinkers, that is the key!

Andres Polk, MBA ‘22, Andres Polk LLC

Data Management and Automation

There are few things more valuable than a foundation in Data Management and Automation. As more and more of the Finance process is digitized, companies do more with an ever-shrinking back office. The ability to free up value-add time by automating repetitive tasks is an exponential multiplier. The continued reinvestment in your data chops will pay dividends. 

Mike Morgan, MBA ‘14, Etegent Technologies Ltd

Basics of Digital Marketing

As a chief marketing officer for MarketingCrypto.io and former W. P. Carey Alum, I hire employees not based on their GPA or education but whether they have real-world digital marketing experience. It is free and easily accessible for anyone to get Google Ads certified through the site Partners.Google.com. Also, anyone can set up and run a Google Ads campaign, even for just a few dollars per day.

Candidates who already have some experience with Google Ads, SEO, or web design have an immediate advantage over someone who doesn’t. I don’t have time to micromanage or educate employees on all the basics of digital marketing so that is why I only hire entry-level positions of people who already have at least some experience. On top of that, it shows me that these candidates are self-driven and have a passion for marketing if they are proactively teaching themselves the basics outside of their classes.

Jeremy Katz, BS Marketing ‘10, Marketing Crypto

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By W. P. Carey Career Services Center
W. P. Carey Career Services Center