Saturday, March 4, 2017

According to the 2016 NACE Job Outlook Survey, verbal communication is the most important candidate skill, and employers grade their average new grad/recruit as a B+ on it

On February 27, 2017 Ellen Finkelstein had an article titled Verbal communication is the MOST important job skill. It showed up at Alltop Speaking under the heading of PowerPoint Tips Blog.

Ellen quoted from a web page posted on February 24, 2016 at the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) about their Job Outlook 2016 Survey that was titled Employers: Verbal Communication Most Important Candidate Skill. Their results (from Figure 41) are shown in the following bar chart (click on it to see a larger, clearer view):

“When asked to assess candidate skills/qualities, employers rated verbal communication skills the most important, according to NACE's Job Outlook 2016 report. 

Employers rated verbal communication skills (4.63 on a five-point scale) highest this year, above teamwork (4.62) and the ability to make decisions and solve problems (4.49), the two skills that tied for the top spot last year.”

But then she went wild by speculating and ranting about what might be going on:

How can this be?

How is it that verbal communications rates over teamwork, decision-making and problem solving, planning/organizing/prioritizing, several types of technical knowledge, and the ability to sell or influence?

Because communication is important for all of the other skills.

And because employers are not seeing good verbal communication skills in their candidates. Believe me, if they saw great verbal communication skills, they would be worrying about something else.

How does this happen?

Colleges do a poor job of training students in oral communications.

Professors give a poor example for students when they teach.

Employers do little to train their own employees in verbal communications.

But that web page didn’t include another important figure from the full NACE survey report. Every year at least one university posts it on a web site. (This time it was the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University). Data from their Figure 42 are shown in the following bar chart:

Employers graded their average new graduate recruits with a letter of B+ on their verbal communication skills. They were able to hire quite well trained graduates. (Figure 44 of the 2015 Job Outlook report also graded recruits with a B+).

Candidates also will be interested in what attributes employers most commonly sought on resumes. Verbal communication skills tied for fourth place there, as shown below in a bar chart based on data shown in Figure 39 (and also reported at another web page titled Job Outlook 2016: Attributes Employers Want to See on New College Graduates’ Resumes).

The NACE Job Outlook 2017 report is also out, but I haven’t seen it leaked by a university yet. We may have to wait a few more months to see it.

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