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Skills for International Business Careers


Multinational companies that hire international business professionals are looking to see if you have what it takes to get the job done. In addition to meeting the educational and occupational requirements also listed below, you need to have the right temperament and skills for international business careers to impress people you'll be meeting and dealing with when you work with them in the U.S., or on their turf overseas.

Read on to learn what qualities will impress a potential international business employer and help you land the job.

6 Necessary Skills for International Business Career Success

In addition to an overall comprehension of business administration, international business students should have the following characteristics:

  1. Cultural sensitivity – Even well-known corporate giants have erred unintentionally when they have failed to research cultural beliefs and traditions in new markets. When conducting business internationally, you must be able to speak more than one language and should be well versed in the practices of the country where you work. Understanding the needs of clients is crucial to your success, as is the ability to perform as part of a multinational team.
  2. Communication and language skills – To excel in business, you must be able to convey your ideas effectively and efficiently. You should be a proficient speaker and writer. Take time to research which languages are most important in your field. For finance careers, Asian and Latin American languages are useful. If you are interested in information systems management, consider Russian or the languages of developing nations.
  3. Patience and flexibility – Don't expect to start jet setting to Paris or Hong Kong in your first month of work. Most international business women and men begin their careers in domestic operations and advance to positions abroad after demonstrating prowess at home. When new markets open to your company, opportunities may arise in countries that you never considered.
  4. Creativity – Turning your ideas into marketing tools will make you a highly-valued employee. Creativity is vital to multinational corporations, which must sell their products to a variety of customers. If your concept successfully redesigns a popular American product for sales in another country, it may propel you into a management position.
  5. The ability to work under pressure – The launch of a new ad campaign or product is extremely intense; unforeseen cultural issues and trade barriers can arise at the last minute. You will be at a competitive advantage if you can meet impending deadlines quickly, use problem-solving skills and nurture the ability to sense and evaluate new developments in your employer's country.
  6. The right degree – Earning the right degree is a must for a career in a competitive field such as international business. Once you've earned your bachelor's degree, you can expect to consider what you'd like to do within the international business field. An MBA will give you a well-rounded business view, while the Master in International Management (MIM) and Master's in International Business (MIB) will specialize in global management and allow you to focus on issues that relate to the international business arena.

Who Considers an International Business Career?

In their textbook, International Management: Culture, Strategy and Behavior, authors Richard M. Hodgetts and Fred Luthans pinpoint four critical qualities or factors that define people who consider international business careers:

  • Individuals most committed to their professional careers sign up for overseas work.
  • Unmarried employees are more willing to accept foreign assignments than any other group.
  • Of married couples, those without children or with very young, non-teenage, children prefer to move.
  • Because of the extra compensation and benefits, people with prior international experience are more likely to take another foreign assignment.