Thursday, June 2, 2011

Employers consider verbal communication and many other skills very important, but are only somewhat satisfied by their newly hired college graduates

Every year the National Association of Colleges and Employers (also known just as NACE) conducts a Job Outlook Survey. Last December I discussed their 2010 survey. Data for the 2011 survey was collected between July and October of 2010.

Among other things, they asked employers to rate the importance of 21 skills/qualities on a five-point scale where:

1 = Not important
2 = Not very important
3 = Somewhat important
4 = Very important
5 = Extremely important

They also asked them to rate their satisfaction in those skills/qualities of their new college hires on a five-point scale where:

1 = Not at all satisfied
2 = Not very satisfied
3 = Somewhat satisfied
4 = Very satisfied
5 = Extremely satisfied

Last December NACE put out a brief press release mostly about the top five skills. Southern Connecticut State University once again leaked the whole survey on their career services web site. (Google search the phrase “NACE Job Outlook 2011” and you will see it under I downloaded the survey and have analyzed their results reported in Figures 38, 39, and 40 as weighted average ratings.

The bar chart shows results for both importance (blue) and satisfaction (red). Click on it to see a larger version. 14 out of 21 skills were rated as very important (above 4.0). If everything was perfect, then those skills considered very important would have satisfaction ratings (in red) that would match (or even exceed) the blue ones. Instead there’s both good news and bad news.

First the good news. Some of the red bars exceeded the blue ones, but mainly for the three lowest-ranked qualities: sense of humor, entrepreneurial skills/risk/taker, and strategic planning skills. (That also was true for friendly/outgoing personality).

The bad news is that verbal communication skills, which were ranked most important at 4.65, lagged behind in satisfaction at 3.86. So did written communication skills, and many other skills (including the entire top ten). Last year they just listed communications skills, but didn't separate written and verbal.

These results indicate that college new hires are not really meeting their employers expectations. If you are still in college, then you should consider what courses you need to improve your skills. For suggestions about verbal communications, read this article by Paul Hettich.

If you are a recent graduate, then you could join a Toastmasters International club to improve your verbal communications skills.

A bar chart is much better tool to compare rankings for the importance, satisfaction, and differences between them than the three separate tables presented in the NACE survey. Those tables were organized from largest to smallest, so Communication skills (verbal) was in the top row under importance, in the eighth row under satisfaction, and in the fourth row under difference.

Ibagli posted the image showing a university graduation.

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