Posted June 29, 2016 by

What makes a job seeker highly effective: Part 1

The 2016 Job Preparedness Indicator Study surveyed 500 U.S.-based hiring managers and measured gaps between what hiring managers are looking for and what candidates are bringing to the table. In addition, the study focused on job seeker success factors, and highlighted key elements of a successful job search.

The survey was conducted in March 2015 by the Career Advisory Board (CAB) established by DeVry University. Key findings from the study, related to issues facing hiring managers, are analyzed in the article below, and the accompanying video features Steven Rothberg, founder of College Recruiter, moderating a discussion about the findings with CAB co-chairs Madeleine Slutsky of DeVry University and Alexandra Levit, a consultant, speaker, and workplace expert who has written six career advice books, and was formerly a nationally syndicated career columnist for the Wall Street Journal.

This is the first in a two-part series analyzing the study and panel discussion with Rothberg, Slutsky, and Levit. The video was conducted from Google’s Chicago offices during NACE 2016 in June:


If the video is not playing or displaying properly click here.

Two intriguing factors emerged from the 2016 Job Preparedness Indicator Study, which is now in its sixth year:

1. Hiring managers focus on 23 key soft skills: Hiring managers are focusing on a list of 23 key skills they believe today’s job seeker should have. Those 23 skills are:

  • Integrity
  • Work ethic
  • Time management
  • Written communication
  • Problem solving
  • Adaptability
  • Technology skills
  • Ability to work in a matrixed environment
  • Strategic perspective
  • Networking skills
  • Business acumen
  • Global competence
  • Accountability
  • Self-motivation
  • Verbal communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Assimilation of new information
  • Decision making
  • Analytical skills
  • Innovation
  • Presentation skills
  • Real-world work experience
  • Risk taking

2. Hiring managers are unrealistic: Today’s hiring managers are unrealistic, according to the study. They expect job seekers to not only bring all 23 key skills to the table, but also require candidates to have the right education, related experience, and be a perfect interviewer, among other requirements.

These requirements are affecting hiring decisions and that should concern hiring managers, says Levit.

“When we look at the list of 23 skills that (hiring managers) said were important, they expect candidates to come through the door having a check box next to every single one of those skills,” says Levit. “You also have to be from the perfect industry, you have to be from the perfect background, you have to have graduated from a top university, and you have to be the perfect interviewer.”

Levit continued: “Essentially they want somebody who has the complete and total package and aren’t really willing to say ‘maybe this person is strong in x, but we will have to train them on y.’”

These stringent hiring requirements were okay a few years ago, says Levit, because there were more job seekers in the market than what company’s knew what to do with. But the playing field has changed, and hiring managers need to be more open.

“As it becomes more of a job seekers market, with the recession well behind us, this is going to be a problem because you are going to see positions that are going to be left empty for many months, and that the people who are still doing the jobs of two or three individuals will start to burn out, and then they will leave, then you will need to fill more positions.”

One positive note for hiring managers emerged from the study: Today’s college graduates are entering the workforce better prepared than they have in the past two, five or ten years. Translation: Today’s entry-level job seeker is advanced in all facets of the process.

“I see the needle moving here,” says Levit. “Universities are preparing college students a little bit better for the work world and they are coming out with some of these (23 key) skills already.”

However, even though college grads are better prepared, hiring managers and employers may overlook these, well-trained, rising stars because of strict hiring requirements. The trend isn’t about to change soon, either.

“We don’t see this trend really going anywhere, which makes me concerned for hiring managers, because generally they are pretty unrealistic,” says Levit.

For more advice for employers and hiring managers, check out our blog and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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