MBA Recruiters’ No. 1 Pet Peeve: Poor Writing and Speaking Skills
| Peter Klein |
Sure, leadership, team skills, and functional integration are important. But if MBA programs continue to graduate students who can’t write and speak clearly, employers will stop paying the MBA wage premium. The WSJ’s Career Journal quotes Whirlpool’s director of global university relations Chris Aisenbrey:
“It is staggering the frequency of typos, grammatical errors and poorly constructed thoughts we see in emails that serve as letters of introduction,” says Mr. Aisenbrey. “We still see a tremendous amount of email from students who are writing to the recruiter like they are sending a message to a friend asking what they are doing that evening.”
In the WSJ/Harris Interactive survey of corporate recruiters, the top complaint is inferior communication skills.
As part of his interviews with M.B.A. students, Darren Whissen, a financial-services recruiter in California, provides an executive summary of a fictitious company and asks them to write about 500 words recommending whether to invest in the business. At worst, he receives “sub-seventh-grade-level” responses with spelling and grammar errors. “More often than not,” he says, “I find M.B.A. writing samples have a casual tone lacking the professionalism necessary to communicate with sophisticated investors. I have found that many seemingly qualified candidates are unable to write even the simplest of arguments. No matter how strong one’s financial model is, if one cannot write a logical, compelling story, then investors are going to look elsewhere. And in my business, that means death.”
As a university teacher of undergraduates, MBA students, and PhD students, I share the recruiters’ frustration with shockingly bad reading, writing, and speaking skills. However, graduate school may be too late to correct such errors. Grammar should be learned in, well, grammar school. Should universities really be investing resources in teaching remedial English, math, and science? (HT: Craig Newmark)