Skills to Learn for MBA Placements

The placement season could be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences for any MBA student. The uncertainty of finding a job without proper training and experience seems tricky when you do not know where to start. It becomes vital to ensure you have what it takes to stand out from the crowd. In that case, Creadom is the right place for you. This article is a step-by-step guide to help determine the skills to learn for your MBA placements.

The placement season could be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences for any MBA student. The uncertainty of finding a job without proper training and experience seems tricky when you do not know where to start. It becomes vital to ensure you have what it takes to stand out from the crowd. In that case, Creadom is the right place for you. This article is a step-by-step guide to help determine the skills to learn for your MBA placements.

To start off, let me share a simple framework that will help you determine the skills required for an MBA student to strike the exact career outcomes that you have been hoping for.

The framework in question is built on a concept borrowed from the marketing world: Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning (STP). You can always check out this brief video if you are new to this concept:

If I were to sum it up in one line, STP is a marketing model that redefines whom you market your products to and how.

In this framework, you will be marketing yourself to the companies and the HRs who take part in your campus placements. This makes you the product and the companies your consumers that we will have to segment according to your interests.

Skills to learn for mba placements

Step 1: Segmentation of the companies

Let me start off by explaining the process of segmentation in the marketing world:

An online travel agency that organizes worldwide adventure tours has segmented its consumers into 3 segments based on certain common characteristics and needs:

  1. Segment A: Young married couples primarily interested in low-cost, adventurous trips in exotic locations.
  2. Segment B: A middle-class family looking for a low-cost, family-friendly tour
  3. Segment C: Upscale retirees looking for luxurious and stylish vacations in popular locations.

Similarly, you, as a marketer, would start off by segmenting your audience so that you would know exactly the different kinds of people you could market your product to.

Since we are considering YOU as the product and COMPANIES as your audience, the first step is to segment the companies based on certain parameters.

Companies could be segmented by:

  • The industry – E-commerce, consulting, FMCG, etc.
  • Job roles offered – Product management, marketing, sales, etc.
  • The size of the organization – Start-up, mid-sized, MNC, etc.

You could go ahead and add more parameters if you deem fit. However, the above three parameters should serve the fundamental purpose of segmentation. So, make sure you add these parameters to your analysis in all cases.

Now that you have segmented your companies into the parameters you have chosen, the next step would be to go ahead and target them.

Step 2: Targeting your preferred job roles

What exactly do you mean by targeting?

Obviously, you, as a marketer, cannot market your products to everyone. It is just not feasible. Moreover, a product that is intended for everyone, is actually intended for no one.

If you were to think of it in terms of your placements, you can’t be preparing for both finance and marketing job roles. It’s just not possible because both require a different kind of preparation.

So, if you are the product, for you to please both those segments of companies, you need to have different kinds of product features altogether – which by now you would have understood, is not feasible.

Therefore, you need to decide which segments to target.

If I were to take the example of a travel agency, it would have to target a segment of consumers to market its services to.

For example: if the travel agency were to analyze the profits, revenue, and market size of each of its segments, it would arrive at the following figures:

(a) Segment A: Rs. 55,00,000

(b) Segment B: Rs. 42,00,000

(c) Segment C: Rs. 50,00,000

Based on the above three calculations, we can easily pinpoint the fact that segment A is the best choice to go forward with. Therefore, the travel agency targets segment A to market its products.

Obviously, this is only a suggestive example. In the world of placements, it could mean that you start to analyze where your natural strengths lie and which of them offers the better job roles or placement package.

Think about it. Do you think it is feasible for you to prepare for all the job roles offered at your campus? NO.

Therefore, you need to choose the target segment.

You get the point.

How many job roles should I target for my MBA Placements?

An important rule that must be kept in mind is that, ideally, you should not choose more than 2 job domains. Focus on 1 key domain that you would like to explore.

Having different goals would only cloud your mind. The entire process will go haywire as different domains will require different skills.

Freshers are bound to be confused about the several options available to them, as the lack of experience or knowledge about the domains makes it difficult to recognize their “calling” and which industry or field they could be good at.

In such a situation, make sure that you choose 2 domains that are closely related to each other. Randomizing your options and choosing domains that are poles apart adds to the difficulties as you lose sight of your main objective.

We have made this simple color-coded list for you to make this targeting easy for you. From this list, choose the two domains which are either in the same color group or are the closest to each other.

Choosing marketing and finance as your two domains, for example, makes no sense because they require entirely different skills.

Therefore, it becomes crucial to ensure that you only choose domains that necessitate similar skills and toolsets. For example, product management and marketing primarily share similar qualifications.

Therefore, choosing the next neighbor is the best option. There could still be a few exceptions to it, for example, someone who wants to aim for both consulting and finance.

Now that you know that you can only target 1-2 job roles, the next step would be to position yourself as an expert in that field of course for the next 6-10 months.

Step 3:  Positioning

Once you have decided upon the segments you would like to target, the next step is to position yourself in a favorable situation for the company.

Start off with an important fact: any job role in the world, that is ANY job role (including, say, being the founder of your own startup), can be divided into a set of soft skills and hard skills.

In fact, let me share with you a simple formula that you must always remember:

Any Job Role = {Hard-skills + Soft-skills}

Consequently, the roles you have chosen for yourself can also be broken down into a set of soft and hard skills, which tend to be common across companies.

Therefore, your task would be to determine the hard and soft skills required for each job role in each domain.

How do you determine the skills to learn for your MBA placements?

There are 2 ways you could go about it:

1. Through on-campus job descriptions: Get all the Job Descriptions (JD) of the various companies that take part in your campus placements. You will find that placement committees of most B-schools share the JDs of all the companies that hire within the institution with their students.

2. Through online job portals: Hop on to This website provides the details of all the JDs floated in every other b-school. This could help you scrutinize each JD that fits the job role and sector you are hoping to attain.

Once you get your hands on the JDs, list down all the soft and hard skills that the companies typically look for in a specific job role.

For example: In one of the job roles in the e-commerce sector, you can expect UI/UX to be an important skill set that you would require for their marketing and sales roles (suppose).

Be it the skills required for an MBA finance student or an MBA marketing student, JDs can help you analyze the skills that are expected of you. This enables you to prepare for them beforehand and sets you apart from other applicants.

Now that you have determined all the skills you would need, how do you prioritize the skills you would need?

For this purpose, we build the skill clarity matrix, which helps us identify the skills that any MBA student really needs.

What is a skill-clarity matrix, and how will it help you determine the skills needed for MBA placements?

The Skill Clarity Matrix is a 2×2 matrix that highlights the best skills to learn for your MBA placements. The x-axis denotes the level of differentiation you can attain against your competitors, while the y-axis explains how relevant those skills would be for your chosen job role in the chosen sector.

The Skill Clarity Matrix - Skills to learn for MBA placements
Credits: Muskan Bhola, IIM Rohtak

(a) QUADRANT 4: Skills that are irrelevant and not differentiable:

According to the above matrix, the most apparent act would be to strike off quadrant 4. There is no need for you to acquire the skills displayed in quadrant 4, as they are characterized by low relevance and low differentiation.

In short, these skills are those that are extremely common and irrelevant to your target segment.

(b) QUADRANT 3: Irrelevant to your job role but extremely unique:

Quadrant 3 displays those skills that are incredibly uncommon but irrelevant to your job role.

According to the above quadrant, CFA certification would do no good if you were preparing for a marketing or sales role. Although CFA is a valuable certification and in high demand in the finance domain, it will bring you no advantage in the marketing domain.

Therefore, the skills in quadrant 3 can also be ignored.

(c) QUADRANT 1: Must-have skills but not differentiable:

This quadrant consists of the skills expected of every individual applying for a specific job role. However, this skill would not set you apart from everyone else applying for the same role, as it is a very common skill to have.

In the words of marketing, this quadrant is composed of “points of parity”. In the business world, “points of parity”  refer to all the qualities that all businesses, or in this case, you, should have to be competitive and on par with each other.

Therefore, your aim should be high relevance and high differentiable skills.

(d) QUADRANT 2: Highly relevant and extremely unique:

This quadrant highlights all the skills that would prove to be relevant to your job title and set you apart from all other competitors.

Hence, this quadrant consists of the primary skills to learn for MBA placements.

In other words, quadrant 4 defines the points of differentiation. Points of differentiation refer to all the characteristics of a product or service that distinguish it from its competitors.

For example, if you are interested in marketing and sales in the e-commerce sector, then digital marketing and UI/UX would prove to be extremely useful for you. Not only is it relevant to the job that you are applying for, but it would also help to differentiate you from all your competitors.

Therefore, quadrant 4 is the one you would want to focus on and develop your strategies around.

Therefore, you will be able to identify and prioritize the skills that are most useful for you in your upcoming placement season!


I believe you are able to feel more hopeful and confident about your placement season. In this article, I helped you with the exact steps that you need to take to not only zero down on your desired job role during your MBA, but also to ace the placements with ease.

It is understandable that this phase is probably one of the most important and stressful times of your life, and it is quite alright to feel confused. The fact that you are ready to do something about it proves that you have what it takes to reach the goal you have been hoping for.

The above article equips you with the framework to identify and prioritize the skills to learn for MBA placements. The STP framework helps identify the skills that you will need for your MBA placements and the skills clarity matrix helps you prioritize them.

Firstly, segmentation allows you to segment the companies in your campus placements on the basis of three parameters: job domain, sector, and size of the organization.

Secondly, we target the specific job domain in a specific sector of an organization with a specific size and prepare accordingly.

And finally, we position ourselves according to our target segment. Identify the skills that you will need to crack the placements and prioritize them accordingly.

To aid with this process, we developed the skill clarity matrix to prioritize the skills as per the level of differentiation and relevance to your chosen target.

Finally, I am sure that this framework helps you with the needed skills to learn for your MBA placements. All the best for your preparations, don’t forget to comment with your thoughts and any exact questions you may have

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