What Employers Want in New Employees

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Last week I had the opportunity to meet with two interesting groups. The first was a meeting with recent graduates of AMC. These young professionals completed their degrees at the College in the past five years, all are currently employed, and some are pursuing graduate degrees. Most of their questions were about the changes at their alma mater. Most of my questions were about how AMC had prepared them for their current careers.

To a person, they believed that AMC had prepared them well. What was interesting, however, was that they had a more difficult time describing the aspects of their education that most highly correlated with their professional success. They spoke of personal attention, great professors, a supporting environment, but little about any specific knowledge or skills that helped them to land and keep their first positions.

Later in the week, I was in a meeting with several representatives from major businesses in the area. I asked them what they value most about new employees and their responses were clear, concise and consistent. They were less concerned about knowledge and more interested in attributes. They looked for people who could think and write well, possessed a strong work ethic, and were willing and able to learn.

Their responses were consistent with the research. Study after study reveals the priorities of employers to focus on skills and abilities more than knowledge and facts. Just a few days ago, for example, CACEE (The Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers) released a study that included the responses of 450 major companies throughout their country.   CACEE is a national non-profit partnership of employer recruiters and career services professionals. Their mission is to provide professional networking and development opportunities, information, advice, and other services to employers and career service professionals. Their reports reflect good research, are well written and certainly relevant to graduates and employers around the world.

Consistent with the results from prior years, the five most important skills for graduates and new employees are:

  •   Teamwork skills (works well with others)
  •   Problem solving skills
  •                Communication skills (verbal)
  •                 Analytical skills
  •                 Strong work ethic

The reasons that these are the most valued characteristics for employees are fairly obvious. Employers recognize that the knowledge base of their industry will change. The information explosion in the world has brought new knowledge, new techniques, new strategies, new challenges and new opportunities. In few cases is any business or industry doing things the same way today as they did a decade ago. Employers know that the knowledge and techniques can and will be taught as employees are retrained and constantly engage in professional development.

But the innate skills and characteristics of team work, problem solving, communication, analysis, and a strong work ethic are immutable to the success of every business and industry. The values of these skills never change.

So whether they realize it or not, our graduates experience an education at AMC that develops and emphasizes these skills. Our graduates may not realize it. They may not be able to articulate it. But they certainly benefit from it. And that’s good for AMC and good for the employers who hire our graduates.

(As always, your comments and questions are welcome.)



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Guest Wednesday, 30 July 2014