WEDDLE’s Research Factoid: What Do Employers Want?

WEDDLE’s Research Factoid: What Do Employers Want?

WEDDLE’s Research Factoid: What Do Employers Want?

WEDDLE’s continuously conducts both primary and secondary research on the Best Practices in job search and career self-management. Recently, we explored the implications of data collected by The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, The Partnership for 21st Century Skills and SHRM. Their joint report, entitled,Are They Really Ready to Work? Employers Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills of New Entrants to the 21st Century U.S. Workforce, provided the results of a survey of over 400 employers nationwide. Its purpose was to determine what skills employers want most and seem to have the most difficulty finding in their new hires.

Workers, of course, need basic skills but, increasingly, they also need what are called applied skills. The following were identified by employers as today’s five most important applied skills for employees: professionalism, teamwork, oral communication, ethics and social responsibility and reading comprehension. The percentage of employers citing each of these skills for high school graduates, two year and four year college graduates were:

  • Professionalism: High school graduates-80.3%; Two year college graduates-83.4%; Four year college graduate-93.8%;
  • Teamwork: High school graduates-74.7%; Two year college graduates-82.7%; Four year college graduate-94.4%;
  • Oral communication: High school graduates-70.3%; Two year college graduates-82.0%; Four year college graduate-95.4%;Ethics & social responsibility: High school graduates-63.4%; Two year college graduates-0%; Four year college graduate-0%;Reading comprehension: High school graduates-62.5%; Two year college graduates-71.6%; Four year college graduate-0%;What the Findings Mean

    These findings illustrate a key self-improvement concept in my system for building Career Fitness. I call it Develop All of Your Muscle Groups because one of the pathways to a healthy career is the continuous expansion of your capacity at work. To put it another way, the broader your expertise, the more valuable you are to an employer (and the more they will pay to hire and retain you). Think of it as a re-imagination of how you look at your career. In essence, you have to accept that what were traditionally considered endings in your career-the end of your high school or college education, the end of a job search, the end of an assignment at work-are now beginnings; they are the doors to the next stage in your growth as an individual in the world of work. In a vital and rewarding career, then, your development is never done; you are a work-in-progress.

    These findings also suggest that employers have imperfect notions of what skills they want you to develop. In other words, what I would not take away from these results is the following:

  • Employers don’t care about ethics and social responsibility among two and four year college graduates. Of course, they do. The fact that employers in this survey did not cite such skills for college-educated workers is incomprehensible, especially in light of the problems we’ve seen at Enron, Worldcom and other organizations. Whatever this poll may suggest, therefore, you can be sure that honesty and ethical behavior are prerequisites for employment regardless of your educational background.
  • Written communications are no longer important in the world of work. Of course they are. While the phone and face-to-face meetings are still widely used, the lingua franca of today’s business world is e-mail messages. With some studies indicating that as many as half of those communications are, in some measure, misunderstood, writing competence has never been more essential to your success on-the-job. You don’t have to be Shakespeare or Hemingway, but you do have to be able to express yourself clearly and accurately in English.
  • Finally, although not shown in the results above, the study also noted the growing importance of the ability to speak a language other than English. Of course, it’s critical to get your English skills down first, but once they’re honed, develop another muscle group and learn to speak a second language. It will expand your employment opportunities and enhance your ability to perform on-the-job (and enjoy the rewards such additional capacity provides).

    Please Note: As a part of our ongoing research, WEDDLE’s has been surveying both job seekers and recruiters on the Web since 1996. We’ve amassed hundreds of thousands of data elements probing:

  • what they do and what they don’t do,
  • what they like and what they don’t like,
  • and most importantly,

  • what they think works best.
  • To add your insights and opinions to our research, please visit the Polling Station at the WEDDLE’s Web-site.

    Section Two: For Your Consideration

    Peter Weddle has been writing columns for his own newsletter and for the interactive edition of The Wall Street Journal since 1999. The following column has been drawn from that work and updated for 2007. You can also find many of Peter’s tips and techniques in his guide WEDDLE’s WizNotes: Finding a Job on the Web and in his soon-to-be-published book, Career Fitness: How to Keep Employers From Kicking Sand in Your Face.

    Don’t Be a Cyber-Idiot

    Perhaps you saw the tape of the incident as it was endlessly replayed on news and sports shows a year or so ago. It showed a young man sitting dazed on top of a net over the home plate crowd at Yankee Stadium after he had jumped off the upper deck during a ball game. It seems he wanted to impress his friends and maybe land on an ESPN highlight reel. What he got instead was a court date and a new moniker. Courtesy of The New York Post, he’s now known as “the village idiot.” He wasn’t smart enough to think about the consequences of his actions.

    While most of us would shake our heads at such public stupidity, there are some among us who are guilty of acting the same way, at least on the Internet. What do I mean?

  • They trash their previous and even their current employers on blogs and discussion forums;
  • They trade in malicious gossip with e-mails about their former or current coworkers and bosses; and
  • They exercise their right to express their opinions by venting their spleen in crude and defamatory language.
  • And when they engage in such behavior, they are ignoring its consequences. They are acting like “cyber-idiots.”

    The village idiot was dumb on two counts: he could have hurt himself with his ignorant behavior and, perhaps worse, he could have hurt others if that net had ripped and sent him flying into the crowd beneath it. The same can be said for cyber-idiots.

    First, their comments can and do hurt others. They can undermine the credibility of their employers and undercut the reputations of their coworkers. Regardless of the accuracy of the idiot’s comments or their “right” to make them, posting them in a public forum where rebuttal is difficult or impossible can have only one purpose: to harm the other party. And, in most cases, that’s exactly what happens.

    Second, their comments can and do hurt them. A column in USA Today not so long ago cited several examples of workers who were fired by their employers for making inaccurate or inappropriate comments about the organizations in their own personal blogs. Did they have the right to make such comments? Absolutely. Was it smart to do so? Absolutely not. The commentary a person posts online-in e-mail and on discussion forums as well as in their own blog-will be part of the public profile they build for themselves, and that profile will be used to evaluate them for employment today and, thanks to the limitless memory of the Web, for the rest of their career.

    Ignoring the consequences of one’s actions simply isn’t rational. It can’t even be described as prudent risk taking. It doesn’t involve weighing the possible benefits of an action against its potentially negative outcomes. Instead, when village and cyber-idiots commit their acts, they focus exclusively on what they perceive to be the positive results they will achieve. And, the tragedy is that those results are all but insignificant when measured against the long term negative impact they are guaranteed to have.

  • The village idiot is likely to spend a year in jail and have a lifelong criminal record for his 15 minutes of fame; and
  • Cyber-idiots may feel momentarily vindicated or superior while expressing their views in an e-mail message or on their blog, but the harm to their own reputation will likely last as long as they are in the workforce.
  • Back in the ancient past before the Web, we were urged not to “burn our bridges behind us” when dealing with employers and coworkers. The rationale, of course, was that circumstances change: And that has never been more true than in the rapidly shifting environment of the contemporary world of work. For example:

  • The boss and coworkers we had in one organization can easily show up in the one to which we’ve moved;
  • The organization that previously employed us can acquire the organization that employs us now;
  • The opportunity we thought we had at our new employer can disappear or never appear at all and make the opportunity at our former employer suddenly look much better; and
  • The boss and coworkers we had in our previous employer might (a) live next door to, (b) have been graduated from the same college as, or (c) be somehow related to our current boss and coworkers.
  • The Internet has short circuited the six degrees of separation that used to buffer what we said and diminish its impact. In today’s hyper-connected world, acting like a cyber-idiot can and almost certainly will come back to haunt you. That’s one reason why you shouldn’t do so. The second reason is something your mother taught you; it’s called the Golden Rule-the key to success (in work as well as life) is to treat others as you would like them to treat you.

    Thanks for reading,


    P.S. Please tell your friends and colleagues about WEDDLE’s newsletter. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness and benefit from your recommendation. And, we’ll certainly appreciate it too!

    Section 3: News You Can Use announced the introduction of a number of new features on its site that are designed to help employers and job seekers make better and more timely connections. These include the Jobfox Resume Tracker which notifies candidates by text message to their mobile phone whenever their resume is viewed by an employer; the Jobfox Tracking Center which provides candidates with information on how they rank for a particular opportunity in terms of job fit and the employer’s level of interest; and the option for Jobfox users to make their online instant messaging presence available to potential employers so the conversation between them can get started more quickly. The site believes that these and other features will significantly enhance your ability to manage your own career, when you’re not looking for a job as well as when you are.

    Staffing Industry Report published statistics on where the greatest job growth occurred in the U.S. this summer. If you’re looking for a new or better job and are either already a resident or willing to relocate there, here are some spots where you’re likely to see plenty of opportunities:

  • Austin-Round Rock, TX
  • Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
  • Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA
  • Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX
  • Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
  • Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, CA
  • Orlando-Kissimmee, FL
  • Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NC
  • San Antonio, TX
  • WEDDLE’s continues to see heavy demand for its guides and directories to successful online job search. Now, you can own the 2007/8 editions of these highly regarded references. Completely revised and updated, they are the gold standard of research aids for job seekers and career activists. The publications are:

  • WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet. Called the “Zagat of the online employment industry” by the American Staffing Association, it provides full-page profiles of 350 of the best job boards in a range of occupations, industries and locations;
  • WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Directory of Employment Related Internet Sites. The “address book of the online employment industry,” it lists over 9,000 sites and organizes them by the occupational fields, industries and geographic locations on which they focus; and
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  • These books are a smart investment for the smart professional. They provide a real and important return every time you use them. So, don’t delay! Click on the appropriate link to your left or call WEDDLE’s today. Our telephone number is 317.916.9424.