You’re finally ready for a new challenge. You’ve gotten your feet wet and acquired some business experience but you’re getting to the point where your current 9-to-5 isn’t cutting it anymore. You’re ready to make a change and dive into the business world for real. This time, playing for the big leagues. But in order to become an MVP, you’ve got to know what it takes to be business savvy.
But how and where do you begin? Surfing the web can feel like drinking through a fire hose. With thousands of job postings, millions of position requirements and everyone and their mother dishing out “business advice”, it’s hard to determine what is beneficial and what is bootless when it comes to business.
So before making your push for the pros, check out this quick and simple guide to becoming business savvy.
Why strive to be savvy?
Savviness comes in all shapes and sizes—from tech savvy to politically savvy and everything in-between. Savviness essentially refers to having an above-average understanding of a topic or industry in addition to the technical skills and know-how required to be considered an expert.
So why strive to be savvy? Quite simply, the business industry is growing. Marketing and financial analyst positions are both growing faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Several HR positions also have a bright job outlook and as more and more baby-boomers leave the marketplace, who knows what’s in store for the business industry!
Beyond the industry opportunities, why wouldn’t you strive to become the most impressive business pro you can be? That way when you’re called up to the plate, you’ll be ready to swing for the fences.
The business-savvy stool
Think of your savviness as a 3-legged-stool. The first leg is your soft skills, which refers to your natural qualities. The second leg is your hard skills, or practical job skills. Finally, the last leg is your education—the degree, certification or experience you’ll need to land a big league business career.
For a properly balanced stool, all three legs need to be evenly proportioned. Finding the perfect balance can give you a leg up on the competition when you’re applying for the job of your dreams.
Check out the chart below to see the business skills that employers seek most. This info was identified from real-time job analysis software from Burning-Glass.com.*
After analyzing more than 400,000 business job postings, here’s what came to light:
1. Soft Skills
Soft skills are generally thought of as inherent skills that can be applied in several different industries, positions or situations. 77 percent of employers consider these abilities to be just as important as the technical skills an employee needs for their job.
Communication and Coordination: According to Burning-Glass insights, there are more than 400,000 job postings seeking individuals who have communication and coordination skills. Whether it’s written or oral, communication is one of the major infrastructures supporting any business.
Pushing yourself to improve your communication skills and seeking out ways to coordinate well with others will help you hone this sought-after skill.
Business Environment Skills: Another talent that will help you become business savvy is business environment skills, also known as business literacy. More than 360,000 employers in our analysis were looking for candidates who are confident in their knowledge of the business environment.
How much more value could you add if you educated yourself on the how the Dow Jones operates or how businesses are thriving today. Start by getting up-to-speed on industry trends by following a few of these top business blogs.
Problem-solving: This is another important skill employers seek in an employee. Declaring that you’re a problem-solver without ever getting your hands dirty will quickly reveal itself as an empty claim. Even if you don’t have business problem-solving experience, you can find ways to trouble-shoot wherever you are.
Work at a restaurant that always runs out of cups after the lunch rush? Do a little reorganization of dishwashing times to solve the issue. Never enough room in the community fridge at the office? Propose a budget plan to purchase joint mini-fridges between 3-4 cube mates. If you keep your eyes open, it won’t take long to sharpen the problem-solving skills that will pay off in your future business career.
2. Hard Skills
Hard skills refer to a more precise set of tactical skills an employee needs to complete their job requirements. Some of these skills are so specific they will likely need to be learned on the job but others are more universal.
Business administration: This skillset was the number one requirement for business candidates, according to our analysis. This doesn’t mean you need to be able to run your own business. But mastering basic business administration skills (such operations, marketing and logistics) will allow you to oversee areas of a business.
For example, let’s say you’re working for a small business and see a gap in the demographic they’re reaching, step up to the plate and make some informed marketing suggestions to reach those you’re company is missing.
Accounting: If you’re a whiz with numbers—you’re in luck! Nearly 130,000 employers are looking for people with accounting abilities. For most, a solid education will be what first provides the accounting basics that employers desire.
You can begin to hone your own personal accounting skills by simply managing your own finances. Seek out technology that helps you budget and balance your accounts. And don’t shy away from reconciling your bank statements the old-fashioned way to become familiar with the ins and outs of money in transit.
Sales: There are nearly 58,000 employers looking for individuals who have the ability to sell and do it well. Though at times sales professionals may get a bad rap, they are often the backbone of their respective company or organization. Being a good salesperson isn’t as simple as it sounds—there are many smaller skillsets that go into it. Communication, customer-relations and organization are just few examples.
Take the time to flex your sales muscles and advocate your current company’s product or services with your friends and family. Hands-on experience is all it takes to continue to build up your confidence and increase your attractiveness to future employers.
With all this talk about honing skills, we can’t forget to learn them first. 87 percent of business job postings require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree—so it’s safe to say education is a pretty important player on the roster. And, as a general rule of thumb, earning potential increases with education level.
For those of you who already have a bit of experience in the business sector, a degree may seem like an obstacle in your way. But earning a business degree will help you become business savvy, providing you with the knowledge and experience you need to succeed in the big leagues.
And with the technology and flexibility of education today, there’s no reason earning a degree should hold you back. Seek out programs that offer an expedited path to graduation or allow you to create your own schedule.
Your Next Steps
Now you know what it takes to become business savvy, so what are you waiting for? Stretch your soft skills, hone your hard skills and accelerate your education. Mastering this trifecta will put you on deck for the major league career you’ve been dreaming about.
If you don’t know where to start, check out the accelerated business programs at Rasmussen College. These programs can put you on the fast-track to the big leagues, allowing you to earn your degree in as little as 18 months!
*Burning-Glass.com (Analysis of job postings with a business major, Mar. 28, 2013 – Mar. 27, 2014)