Show up on time. Stay all day. Work while you're on the clock. Dress appropriately.
As shocking as it may seem, these are some of the basic abilities that many of today’s entry-level applicants lack.
In the SHRM Online article Teach Old Fashioned Basics to Bridge Gap in Soft-Skill Behaviors, speaker and author Bruce Tulgan says that while it's well-known that a technological gap of science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills exists, there is a growing soft skills gap in the workplace. Mastering soft skills leads to work habits that contribute to what he calls "old-fashioned professionalism."
Aside from a basic work ethic, today’s entry-level applicants also come up short in areas such as learning agility, collaboration, problem-solving, empathy, humility, adaptability and ownership. These types of skills, needed to succeed in the workplace, are developed through a variety of experiences that students may not be exposed to in high school or college.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Mercer conducted the Entry-Level Applicant Job Skills Survey to better understand the skills that employers most commonly look for when seeking entry-level job candidates.
The survey report provides insight into the skills that employers need so that schools can better prepare high school and college students for entry into the workforce. The report lists several statistics such as:
- More than three-fourths (78%) of HR professionals indicated that dependability/reliability was one of the three most important skills for entry-level positions. About one-half (49%) indicated integrity was one of the three most important skills, and more than one-third said the same about teamwork (36%).
- On average, about three-quarters of HR professionals indicated that entry-level job applicants possessed the desired level of integrity (75%) and teamwork abilities (73%). About two-thirds reported entry-level job applicants possessed the desired level of respect (69%), dependability and reliability (68%), professionalism (67%), customer focus (67%), initiative (65%), and adaptability (64%); 55% possessed the desired level of critical-thinking skills.
- Overall, one-fifth (20%) of HR professionals were very or extremely confident in their organization’s ability to effectively assess the skills of entry-level applicants; 11% were not at all confident or only slightly confident.
While some may blame higher education and others may point to poor parenting skills, one thing is for sure—employers and schools will need to work together to ensure that the future workforce is equipped for accomplishment.
How does your organization assess entry-level job applicants for soft skills, and how are you developing greater levels of soft skills within your current workforce?
Please join @shrmnextchat at 3 p.m. ET on November 16 for a SHRM Young Professionals Advisory Council (YPAC) #Nextchat with special guests, SHRM 2016 Young Professional Advisory Council members Dan Cross (@CrossOverHR) and Courtney Hendricks (@CourtneyL_44), and SHRM Manager of Workplace Trends and Forecasting Jennifer Schramm ( @shrm_research). We’ll chat about soft skills—what employers want and how students can develop these skills before they enter the workforce.
Q1. Which soft skills are absolutely necessary for entry-level job applicants to have developed before entering the workforce?
Q2. What advice do you have for students when it comes to assessing and developing soft skill competencies?
Q3. How can HR professionals work with local schools and colleges to develop programs that will increase soft skill development in students?
Q4. What advice do you have for entry-level applicants when it comes to highlighting their soft skills in job interviews?
Q5. What do you believe are the reasons that today’s entry-level applicants are lacking basic soft skills?
Q6. What specific skills do you most commonly assess in the hiring/selection process of entry-level job candidates?
Q7. What programs, training or experiences do you offer employees to assist with soft skills development?
Q8. Next week is Thanksgiving! Tag or tweet the name of someone you'd like to thank for helping you develop your soft skills.
Miss this #Nextchat? Here's the RECAP with all the tweets.