5 Top Business Skills All Graduates Should Have

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By DeVry University

May 4, 2021
5 min read

If you’re interested in working toward your dream job in business, earning a business degree and gaining top business skills have likely been part of the equation. A degree can help prepare graduates for future roles by offering the chance to learn and sharpen the specific business skills many employers may require.

Now may be a better time than ever to start your professional journey. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in business and finance is expected to grow on a national level by an impressive 476,200 new jobs between 2019 and 2029.1 With more opportunities opening up, are you ready with the skills you need to pursue your next goal?

What Business Skills Do Employers Look For?

Top organizations know that the people they hire are an investment in their company’s future. Incoming talent will affect whether and how they move toward goals and continue to grow. That talent needs to be ready to hit the ground running, and that means having foundational skills for success in the business world. These skills include basic business principles – things like accounting, marketing and analytics – but they also extend to the abilities to work well with colleagues and clients and to work toward organizational goals.

Beyond the Basics

The business landscape is evolving and today's most relevant skills are often different from those needed by previous generations. High performers need to be aware of those top business skills and be prepared to step up.

Job postings today frequently seek graduates who are well-versed in critical thinking and decision-making. They're also looking for skills that support business administration and business management (things like communication, collaboration and leadership) .

5 Top Business Skills for Graduates

What are some of these critical skills? What abilities should you make sure you take with you as you leave school and enter the workforce? Here are five that rank among the top skills companies look for—and how they serve business employees.

1. Communication

Communication frequently ranks high on lists of the most important business skills – and with good reason. Business is, at its heart, about people. The ability to communicate clearly and effectively impacts everything from morale and productivity to the bottom line. According to one study:

  • 78% of employees think communication should be a higher concern in their organization.
  • 52% said they’ve seen poor communication damage financial outcomes.

Good communication is as critical as ever with the recent global shift to more remote work. Whether you’re in a face-to-face meeting or discussing projects via conference call or email, clear communication across all mediums is essential to making sure business carries on as usual.

2. Collaboration

Collaboration is another skill typically on employers’ radars. In one study, 78.7% of employers surveyed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers said being able to work in a team is a top attribute they look for in job candidates.

An organization must be unified in its efforts to move forward or competing interests will stall—or completely undermine—progress. When employees don’t know how to communicate, resolve concerns or work in tandem with their teammates, conflicts and misunderstandings arise.

On the other hand, sharing information and involving the whole team in solving problems brings all the best thinking to the table. Teams that manage this are often ahead of the curve in keeping up in their field.

3. Adaptability

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in recent months, it’s that nothing in business is certain – change will occur.

Savvy employees have the skills for adapting to change and moving forward in new ways. The understanding and ability to do this is known as a growth mindset. Having a growth mindset means you know talents can be developed—through education, experience and being open to the possibility of change. Earning a degree in business is an entire exercise in learning new skills to meet goals. Carrying this attitude of learning and growth with you beyond graduation will serve you well over the course of your career.

Adaptability means being flexible enough to alter tactics in the face of change. Adaptable employees come ready to meet change head-on and willingly seek growth through things like online courses, corporate training opportunities and mentorships.

4. Analytical Reasoning

Business acumen is more than knowing data—it’s knowing how to make sense of and apply that data. Graduates need analytical skills that will help them research a problem and quickly find the right solutions.

These skills include things like:

  • Critical thinking
  • Research
  • Data analysis
  • Strong communication

The ability to use these skills in conjunction can be a big asset. Employees well-versed in analytical reasoning interpret data and act on it to further company goals. Their capacity to address problems effectively helps avoid wasting time and resources on less optimal solutions.

5. Decision-Making

Closely related to analysis and problem solving is decision-making. Today’s business leaders need to make good decisions quickly, sorting through the constant barrage of information to choose the best path forward.

Poor choices and slow response times cause frustration in even the most successful organizations. One survey of Fortune 500 companies ranked poor decision making as one of their biggest costs in time and energy.

A business education can offer insights and best practices when it comes to making decisions. Learning about business processes and how to make various types of decisions will prepare graduates to step up and take action in the face of tough calls.

Learn Business Skills for the Future

Building the skills that lead to success is a great starting point as you pursue your career goals. A business degree can help prepare you for the technical duties of your specific field. Just as importantly, it can teach you the broader skills that can help benefit every level of an organization.

Curious about starting on the path to a career in business with a degree from DeVry University? Explore our business programs and contact us to start building your personalized education plan.

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Related Information


1Local growth will vary by location. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/home.htm