Essential Skills Business Schools Don’t Teach You

Business school may give you a let up, but there are some fundamental skills business schools don’t teach that are required for success in the real world.

essential skills business schools don't teach

At a prestigious business school, you will likely learn an overview of management principles and how to handle difficult situations that typically arise for graduates. Once you hit the real corporate world, however, the situations you’ll encounter demand you rise to meet new challenges with more than what you learned in business school.


Below are some skills you need to develop if you want to stand out:


Active Listening

Your MBA program likely emphasized the importance of speaking skills, but overlooked the complementary skill of active listening. Many people mistakenly think that speaking is the dominant part of communication, while listening is for those who are beneath the speaker. It is all too common for managers to hear instead of listen and developing the skill of active listening is essential to succeed as a manager.

Goal Setting

Many MBAs seem to be in a hurry after business school and rush through things because they expect their goals to unfold immediately. It is essential that you set career goals, but you need to understand the amount of time and effort necessary to achieve them.


When you first start in the corporate world, the best thing to do is complete every single task handed to you with the utmost precision and maintain a positive attitude. Keep your end goals in mind every day and you’ll soon find that no task is too small for your attention.

Technology Literacy

With the widespread use of computers and the internet, it is expected that new employees are literate in popular technologies. What employers often find with MBA graduates is that they have an advanced knowledge of Microsoft PowerPoint, but only have a baseline understanding of Excel.

Technology Literacy

Similarly, while MBAs are excellent at using Facebook and handling email communication, they struggle to effectively utilize LinkedIn or utilize search engines for research.

Corporate Etiquette

Many seasoned business professionals notice that MBAs have a limited understanding of corporate etiquette. Everything from basic manners to appropriate personal appearance is overlooked and MBAs come off as informal and entitled. Developing interpersonal skills based on corporate etiquette is the key to making a good first impression and earning a credible reputation.


Of all the skills on this list, developing teamwork might be the area that deserves the most attention. The corporate environment is extremely cutthroat which makes people become self-centered and over-confident. Get involved in team projects and complete all tasks successfully before reporting back to the other team members.


The good news is that you can improve your teamwork skills by taking advantage of business management software to organize your shared work. You may also consider sales organization tools in the workplace. This will help the sales and order processes run a lot smoother without human error. Leading your team to achieve success is what will really impress senior management.


It surprises many recent graduates to discover that humility is a sought after trait when an employer considers hiring applicants with an MBA. Although employers want to hire the best and brightest, they also look for employees who are respectful of senior management. Showing off with your theories and appearing over-confident, ambivalent or resistant won’t help you in the corporate world. Instead, practice humility and doors will open for you.


MBAs would do better in their first years with a company if they practice patience. Many times an MBA who signs on as a management trainee later complains that it feels more like a continuation of their business school. Keep in mind that you are now receiving a salary to learn so continuing your education at the beginning is a win-win scenario for you.


Many high profile MBAs make the mistake of switching companies when things get difficult. It’s much easier for an MBA to brag about the ability to switch jobs than to stick it out and find a way to contribute to their current company.


Your first priority should be proving your loyalty to the company that hired you. Loyalty doesn’t simply refer to the number of years under your belt, but how much you are actually contributing.


Every MBA graduate should be able to think of those who contributed to where they are today. This includes everyone from professors to family members and more. It is your duty to thank and stay in contact with those who provided assistance for you to embark on your corporate career.


When MBAs achieve some success, they often forget about those who helped them get there, acting like they did it on their own. Expressing gratitude is a reflection of your character and comes out in your attitude.

ISR Practice

You may have learned about Corporate Social Responsibility in business school, but you also need to concern yourself with the practice of Individual Social Responsibility (ISR). Every employee, and member of society for that matter, is responsible for how we contribute to the larger community.


You should not be leaving this to your retirement when you can work today to make life better for those around you. Some ways corporate employees practice ISR is by educating the underprivileged, cleaning up public land and visiting with the elderly.


It’s important to remember that there are more things to learn outside of classrooms. Keep these tips in mind if you want to get ahead in the business world.