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by Vault Education Editors | December 01, 2009

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At the European Professional Development Conference sponsored by GMAC and hosted by IESE Business School, recruiters spoke about what they look for in MBA candidates. The verdict? Academics aren't everything; employers beyond grades and test scores, focusing instead on a candidate's experience, adaptability and personality. At Google, for example, recruiters look for "cognitive ability," career track ("roles and promotions"), leadership, the ability to navigate a variety of challenges and "swap technical disciplines easily" and the "X factor" (in this case, "Googliness"), which is that intangible quality that makes the candidate unique and perfectly suited to the position and organization.

Recruiters called for schools to work more closely with students to train them to be more employable. Alison Parrin, the career development manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Google.com, Inc., told schools: "You spend a lot of time in bringing them out academically, but you don't necessarily do all you can to give them the employability skills that come out in interviews."

In this economy, business schools must bulk up their career services offerings to help students adapt to the competitive job market, and many have already done so. But the onus is on students to reach out to career services to learn those skills. Students begin the recruiting process within a month of arriving on campus, so their career should be at the front of their minds at all times. Remember: an MBA isn't just an education, it's an important career step.

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