College graduates across the country are stepping off the graduation stage and preparing to step into a completely different role: job applicant. But have the term papers, presentations, extracurricular activities, and long hours in the library adequately prepared graduates to successfully transition into the workforce.
Not enough, according to a “The Multigenerational Job Search Study 2014,” a new survey by career network Beyond.com and research and consulting firm Millennial Branding. The survey of 2,978 job seekers and HR professionals found 73 percent of hiring managers believe colleges are only “somewhat preparing” students to enter the workforce. The survey also had bad news for liberal arts majors, with only 2 percent of companies actively recruiting graduates in that field.
The survey looked at four generations of job seekers: Gen Z (ages 20 or younger), Gen Y (ages 21 to 32), Gen X (ages 33 to 49), and Baby Boomers (ages 50-68). Next
“Cultural Fit” is Key
According to the survey, 43 percent of surveyed recruiters said “cultural fit” — job candidates’ ability to adapt to a potential employer’s culture — is the most important factor in the hiring process. Rich Milgram, Beyond.com CEO and founder, says this is where many colleges are falling short.
“Look at engineers. Not many take psychology courses to understand human behavior and social dynamics,” says Milgram. “But these skills are important to be able to work well with people. College doesn’t prepare for that in many cases.”
In addition to demonstrating a “cultural fit,” other important factors recruiters consider include “relevant courses” (21 percent) and internship experience (13 percent). Only 2 percent consider GPA an important factor in the recruiting process.
Job Boards Are Effective
So where are recruiters looking for job seekers? The survey found 45 percent of HR professionals found candidates on job boards, while 18 percent find candidates on the company website and 17 percent through employee referrals. The survey also found 71 percent of recruiters said referral candidates get high priority when deciding whom to hire. Next
Employers Want Personality
Positivity is key to job search success, according to Milgram. “People want to be around [other] happy people,” he says. “You want that person to be engaged, excited, and have their individual thoughts and opinions and be passionate about something.”
The survey found hiring managers consider a positive attitude (84 percent), communication skills (83 percent), and teamwork skills (74 percent) the three most valuable skills in a job-seeker.
Least important skills include “having a global perspective” (10 percent) and “working virtually” (10 percent).
College Isn’t Everything
According to the survey, 73 percent of employers feel that college “only somewhat” prepares students for the working world. Dan Schwabel, founder of Millennial Branding, says this is especially true for liberal arts majors.
“In the current economy, majoring in liberal arts won’t yield good job prospects so you have to pair a liberal arts degree with business courses in order to become a more appealing candidate,” Schwabel said in a press release.
“Students have to up their game by being prepared for interviews, presenting their best self and matching their work style with the right company culture if they want to successfully find a job.”
But a college degree might not be necessary for a job at all, according to survey results. The survey found 64 percent of employers would consider a candidate without a college degree, and 65 percent said that where a candidate went to school doesn’t matter. Next
Employers Can’t Communicate Needs
Employers are also failing to clearly convey their needs to job seekers. The survey found talent needs have changed for 61 percent of companies, but 54 percent haven’t communicated those changes to the next generation of job-seekers. Next
Students are Unprepared
More than a third (36 percent) of respondents said they are unprepared and 33 percent said students have a “bad attitude” when interviewing.
Candidates can stand out in the process by learning as much as possible, bringing a portfolio of work to the interview, and “bringing a case study” to show the results of an academic study. Next
Salary and Meaningful Work are Key
For job seekers across all generations, the survey found the most important benefits when finding an employer are “salary” (30 percent) and “meaningful work” (30 percent). Only 10 percent of respondents said healthcare benefits and only 2 percent listed a 401(k) plan as an important workplace benefit. Next
The Jobs Are Online
Online job boards are the most popular ways respondents are looking for work. Social media also plays a role with LinkedIn and Google+ generating more job applications. According to the survey:
• 28 percent of respondents are getting jobs through job boards, followed by company websites and referrals at 8 percent.
• Only 2 percent have secured a job by attending a career fair.
• More Gen Y respondents get jobs through job boards than older generations.
• 53 percent apply to jobs through LinkedIn, 19 percent through Google+, and 10 percent through Facebook.
Is College Worth It?
The survey found 71 percent of all generations pay their way through college, but 31 percent said their college degrees aren’t worth the cost. According to the survey:
• 41 percent said it will take them four years or more to pay back student loans
• 53 percent said colleges should be accountable for getting students jobs
• 33 percent of all generations said they would rather have started a business than attend college in the first place
• 59 percent said that college does not prepare students for the real world Next
Entrepreneurship is a very interesting field among younger generations of job-seekers. The survey found 65 percent of Gen Z and 61 percent of Gen Y candidates are either somewhat or very interested in starting a company, compared to 54 percent of Gen X and 40 percent of Boomer job seekers.
The survey also found Gen Y (47 percent) and Gen Z (60 percent) applicants are slightly more likely to work at a start-up than Gen X (43 percent) and Boomer (45 percent) candidates. Back to the beginning
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