Before I continue discussing the specific skills that employers are looking for in college graduates, I want to share another finding from the Job Outlook 2015 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The report on the survey included information about the influence of various attributes in the hiring process. Based on a 5-point scale, with 1 meaning “no influence” and 5 meaning “Extreme influence,” the following are the reported “2015 Average Influence Rating” for eight attributes about which information was gathered:
|3.9||Has held leadership position||3.9||Major|
|3.6||High GPA (3.0 or above)|
|3.6||Has been involved in extracurricular activities (clubs, sports, student government, etc.)|
|2.8||Has done volunteer work|
|2.4||Is fluent in a foreign language|
|2.1||Has studied abroad|
Surprisingly, no attribute scored at the level of 4 (“very much influence”) or above, although two items are close to a 4 and two are midway between 3 (“Somewhat of an influence”) and 4. What this tells me is that the importance of attributes varies widely among employers, and most likely depends on the type of position you’d be seeking and the specific field that you’d want to enter. Therefore, it’s very important that you find out what it is that’s going to be most important to your prospective employers and highlight those specific attributes on your resume (and in interviews). One of the best ways to get that insight is by conducting information interviews (see Tip 6: Conduct information interviews in my book for advice on how to do that).
There are also significant lessons in this message for those of you who are still in school. Based on what you’ve learned from information interviews, this ordered list can help you decide how to spend your time, whether it means taking on a leadership role in an organization, devoting more time on your studies to improve your GPA, or doing some volunteer work in the community.