What employers want

April 2007 » Business Briefs
Communication skills remain at the top of employers’ list when looking for potential employees, according to a report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). Employers responding to NACE's Job Outlook 2007 survey named communication skills and honesty/integrity as a job seeker’s most important skills and qualities.
Communication skills remain at the top of employers’ list when looking for potential employees, according to a report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). Employers responding to NACE's Job Outlook 2007 survey named communication skills and honesty/integrity as a job seeker’s most important skills and qualities.

"Communication skills have topped the list for eight years, and honesty and integrity have tied for the top spot for the last three years," says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director.

Employers also cited strong interpersonal skills, motivation and initiative, the ability to work well with others, and a strong work ethic as key attributes. (Each earned a rating of 4.5 or better on a 5-point scale, where 1 is not important and 5 is extremely important.)

"Certainly, having the requisite skill set to perform the duties of the job is critical, but much of what employers prize cant be taught in the classroom," says Mackes. "As a result, they look for evidence beyond grades that the candidate has these soft skills and attributes. This is one reason why employers look for new college graduates who have gained some kind of relevant work experience, typically performed through an internship or cooperative education program."

In fact, nearly three-quarters of employers responding to NACE’s Job Outlook 2007 survey indicated they prefer to hire new college graduates who have gained relevant work experience.

But great soft skills and relevant work experience may not be enough. Nearly two-thirds of responding employers said they screen new college graduate job candidates on their grade point average (GPA). The biggest group-58 percent-reported that they use a GPA of 3.0 (on a 4-point scale) as their cutoff.

Source: National Association of Colleges and Employers

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