Recently I received an interesting study from Instructure that showed:
- 85% of managers place the highest emphasis on hiring candidates with fundamental skills like attitude and hard work.
- When hiring, 79% of managers said that prestigious schooling was the LEAST important consideration, and only 40% emphasize trade skills.
- Only 8% of managers say millennials are very prepared to contribute immediately at work.
I think this is a wake-up call for anyone searching for a job, but especially for young people. You might have a spanking new degree from a school that has left you (or your parents) in debt to the tune of $100,000, but a hiring manager may not be as impressed with it as you may have hoped.
The key is that hiring managers want to know that you're going to show up for work on time, every single day. They want to know that you're going to jump in to help when it's needed, even if it means you stay late and miss your bus. They want to know that you get along with people, treat them with respect and don't get in a huff when things don't go your way.
It's all pretty basic stuff, but I think this survey shows that it's something that concerns hiring managers.It might be because there is widely held belief that millennials don't -- or won't -- work hard. (My friend and colleague Alison Green wrote a great post here on that subject.) It may also be because they have first-hand experience with clueless job candidates who ask immediately about vacation and benefits instead of expressing interest in the company and the job.
I'm sure there are several reasons, but let's look at what a job candidate can do to overcome such beliefs:
- Get a job. Yeah, I know. You're trying to get a job. But while you wait for that $60,000 a year offer from a big employer, show that you're willing to work hard. It's much better, for example, to show that you've put in time slinging burritos at Taco Bell than just sitting in your mother's basement playing video games. Some of the most successful job seekers I know worked such jobs during high school or college, and they say employers were impressed by their efforts.
- Volunteer. Even if you can't get a job, find some challenging volunteer positions to fill. Work for Habitat for Humanity during spring break or commit to Big Brothers or Sisters while still going to school. Those are attainable positions and will demonstrate your desire to help others.
- Write a blog. Start writing about issues in the industry where you seek a job, or even write a blog that focuses on positive events. Don't write anything that you wouldn't want your grandma or a CEO to read. You can use your writings to show you're a positive person who is staying abreast of industry developments and seeking to educate others.
- Attend conferences. Industry conferences offer you a golden opportunity to meet others and demonstrate your ability to be professional and communicate well with others. Even if you think it may be too expensive to attend, check into discounted rates for students. In addition, some associations may be willing to pay your way if you volunteer to help with the conference before, during and after.
The key to remember when you're a job seeker is that part of the challenge will be to overcome preconceived notions a hiring manager may have about you. Think about how you can overcome any obstacles before you enter the interview, and you'll already be ahead of the competition.