Monday, February 25, 2013

Verbal communication skill is the top ability desired by employers from new college graduate candidates in the NACE 2013 Job Outlook Survey

In late summer and early fall the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveys employers about new college graduates. Their 2013 Job Outlook Survey was published on November 1, 2012 and described in a press release on November 8th titled Employers Look for Communications Skills, Ability to Work in a Team in New College Grads

One of their questions asked employers to rate the importance of candidate abilities and skills on a scale from 1 to 5 where:

1. Not at all important
2. Not very important
3. Somewhat important
4. Very Important
5. Extremely important

A bar chart shows the rankings. (Click on it to see a larger, clearer version). Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization was first on the list of desired candidate skills (4.63), and was considered more than very important. The rest of the top five abilities were working in a team (4.60), making decisions and solving problems (4.51), planning organizing and prioritizing (4.46), and obtaining and processing information (4.43). (Ability to create or edit written reports was ninth at 3.56, or almost a point below that for verbal communication).

Another question asked employers what attributes they seek on a candidate’s resume. Results are shown on another bar chart. The top ten attributes were leadership (80.6%), problem solving skills (75.3%), written communication skills (74.7%), ability to work in a team (74.2%), analytical/quantitative skills (72.0%), strong work ethic (73.1%), verbal communication skills (67.2%), initiative (66.7%), computer skills (64.5%), and technical skills (64.0%).

I’ve previously blogged about both the 2010 and 2011 surveys. Emphasis on the importance of communication skills isn’t new. The press release for their 2010 survey said that:

“Employers taking part in NACE’s Job Outlook 2010 survey, ranked communication skills at the top of the skills they seek in potential employees. Rounding out the top five were analytical skills, the ability to work in a team, technical skills, and a strong work ethic.”

What amused me about the 2013 survey was that the results for abilities and skills were not displayed as I have done via the first bar chart. Both the press release and the Student version of the survey instead had a Top Ten List with those abilities illustrated by little clip art cartoons.

Results for attributes sought on resumes were displayed on a series of little pie charts arranged in five rows with four columns each (except for a bottom row with three). Perhaps they were trying to make the information look like the dashboard for the flight engineer on an RAF Lancaster bomber from back in World War II, as shown above. To me the first ten little pie charts instead looked like silly Pac-Men ready to nibble their way off to the Northwest. I much prefer a horizontal bar chart, which lets you easily compare the percentages.

You can find the Acrobat  .pdf file for the full report by running a Google search with the phrase: “Job Outlook 2013 11 | 2012”, and the Student version with the phrase: “The_Job_Outlook_for_the_College_Class_of_2013_Student_Version)” .

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