Academic journal article College Student Journal

The Hard Truth about Soft Skills: What Recruiters Look for in Business Graduates

Academic journal article College Student Journal

The Hard Truth about Soft Skills: What Recruiters Look for in Business Graduates

Article excerpt

The purpose of this paper is to better understand what recruiters are looking for in potential job applicants. Past studies tend to be unclear on how GPA ranks in relation to soft skills (traits and social skills important in interacting with others). Also, most of these studies were conducted at either Ivy League colleges, where the admissions policies filter students by academic ability and might dilute the importance of GPA to recruiters, or in Fortune 500 companies, where expensive training programs shape employees and may make academic performance less important than other qualities. Our survey of recruiters at a regional university career fair found that factors demonstrating soft/social skills ranked highest in recruiter preferences. Surprisingly, GPA and work experience tended to be least important to recruiters. Minor differences were found between Fortune 500 and non-Fortune 500 recruiters, but preferences were largely consistent between groups. By understanding this apparent shift in recruiter preferences, universities can better position themselves to help students develop desired skills. In addition, this study has important implications for brick and mortar universities struggling to find their place among all the online alternatives, as focusing on programs to develop soft skills may be a competitive advantage for them.

Keywords: Recruiter preferences, interpersonal skills

**********

We have entered a new age--the age of communication. This is probably not new news but like every era, the change brought about oftentimes has unintended consequences. In this case, thinking through the unintended consequences of this communication revolution may mean reexamining the kind of characteristics organizations might be seeking in new hires, and thus mean changes in how business schools prepare students to obtain jobs. For example, a quirk of the communication revolution is that the proliferation of quick ways to communicate has potentially made us worse communicators. While we may have become experts at texting, our reliance on easy, lower-order communication may have eroded our higher-order communication skills, such as negotiation and conflict resolution--two skills necessary for successfully working well with others (Tumlin, 2013). As a result, we may be seeing the beginning of a paradigm shift, where in the past academic achievement was the key to landing a job (e.g., Werbel, Phillips and Carney, 1989), and now recruiters are becoming more concerned about hiring people who can communicate and work well with others (Alsop, 2006; Colvin, 2014; Taylor, K. A. 2003; Taylor, W. C. 2011; White, 2013).

Many new studies have come forth discounting the importance of grade point average and lifting the relevance of social skills in obtaining a job (Bryant, 2013; Nisen, 2015; Schramm, 2013). This study will contribute to this research in three ways. First, while many associations (e.g., Schramm, 2013), magazines (e.g., Adams, 2014) and companies (e.g., Bryant, 2013) have posted their recent research findings that companies are placing a high preference on candidates who can communicate and work well with others, it has not been entirely clear where academic success falls in their preferences. Many of these studies do not appear to include academic success in their lists of applicant qualities. Second, these previous studies have primarily focused on organizations (e.g., Google) that heavily recruit from Ivy League schools, where recruiters may be able to uniquely disregard academic success because entrance into these universities may be enough of an intellectual indicator. Potentially, this suggests that recruiters actively seeking job candidates from universities that serve a wider public might place more importance on academic success than recruiters focused on the Ivy Leagues. This study addresses this issue by surveying recruiters at a university career fair where student capabilities are far more diverse than those found in the Ivy Leagues. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.