What do Employers Want?

by Patricia Rose, Director of Career Services

This fall, a number of employers responded to this question in a survey administered by NACE (the National Association of Colleges and Employers, of which Penn is a member). NACE published the results in Job Outlook 2011. Employers identified a number of factors that were important or extremely important, such as GPA, internship or leadership experience, and major. They also ranked the following “soft” skills or qualities as most important in new college hires; in order, they were:

• Verbal Communication Skills
• Strong Work Ethic
• Teamwork Skills
• Analytical Skills
• Initiative

This is not that surprising; these skills and abilities are frequently cited. What is more interesting is that employers were also asked how satisfied they were with their recent college hires in these areas. They were “very satisfied” with their new recruits’ teamwork and analytical skills, but less so with verbal communication skills, initiative, and work ethic.
The message to you as current students is that certain things may get you in the door: a Penn diploma, good grades, a sought-after major. Once you get there, though, you have to earn the success you envision for yourself. Raising your hand and taking the initiative, and working hard go a long way with every employer, in all fields. And good verbal communication skills will take you far. If you haven’t already developed confidence as a speaker or communicator, take steps now to improve. For example, be the one to present your group project. Ask for feedback from the professor after doing so. Take note of the areas that need work.

One way Career Services can help in this regard is through our interviewing training. Sign up for a mock interview with a counselor. If you are going to be interviewing in February for internships, participate in our mock interview day in late January. Current MBA students and employers have graciously agreed to provide the mock interviews. Check out our InterviewStream program, an online tool to practice responding to a range of interview questions. (Go to PennLink to access InterviewStream; you will need a web cam on your computer to use the program.)

Finally, since this is my final blog post of 2010, best wishes for the holidays and the new year. May it bring peace and prosperity to us all.

Author: Patricia Rose

Patricia Rose is the Director of Career Services at the University of Pennsylvania.