Top 5 Reasons the Kids are Alright
With only about a month left in school, another cohort of college and university graduates will be (and if they’re proactive, already are) flooding employers with applications for full-time work. Despite the challenges new grads are facing in the job market due to a sluggish economy and unretired Baby Boomers, and despite the bad rap their generation, the Millennials, endures due to stereotypes about a lack of professionalism and poor work ethic, new grads should not be discounted so quickly. They are, after all, the future, and while post-secondary institutions have been criticized lately for not providing students with the skills Canada’s workforce supposedly needs, studies indicate that employers still treasure the kinds of soft skills traditionally associated with a well-rounded post-secondary education. These top five skills include:
Group projects tend to be part of any post-secondary education, whether it’s in the sciences, business, or humanities. By the time a student graduates, they’ve had plenty of opportunity to hone those skills, so it’s important that employers allow new grads to talk about their experiences on teams, whether they involve lab work, group presentations, or putting on a production. What they tell you will also give you more insight into another vital set of skills – their interpersonal skills.
Good communication skills encompass verbal, written, and presentation skills. Many employers say communications skills are the most lacking among new graduates these days, which is a shame considering how crucial they are. Thankfully, these skills are fairly easy to test via brief, in-office writing assignments, and asking long-answer questions during interviews. Both methods require the candidate to organize, convey, and articulate their thoughts in real time.
To solve a problem, one needs to be able to think critically, creatively, and analytically before acting. Post-secondary education has always emphasized these skills, so new grads should be able to speak about past assignments that provide some indication of how they use their faculties to come up with solutions.
Millennials are known for their feelings of empowerment and their drive to make a difference in the world, which is in stark – and refreshing – contrast to the rebelliousness and cynicism that characterized Generation X. Global citizenship has been a major theme throughout their education, and universities in particular strive to produce engaged citizens. Integrity is the alignment between how a person thinks and acts, and many new grads will have it in spades.
Leadership tends to encapsulate many if not all of the above skillsets, not to mention certain intangible qualities, such as charisma. If the new grad you’re interviewing seems strong in many different areas and has a bit of je ne sais quoi about them, some of those qualities will be innate, but much of it is likely owed to the experiences they had in higher education as well.
It’s time employers looked past the bad press that new post-secondary grads and their schools have been receiving in the media. Post-secondary education continues to instill in its students the values and soft skills that employers desire in every new hire.