Today's Grads Need Strong Communication Skills

Northstar Notes

Too often, employers say, new employees are like drones, doing what they are told, without offering suggestions for improvement.

Published on: May 28, 2013

Social media aside, today's graduates continue to need strong communication skills to find employment.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers' Job Outlook 2013 Survey, employers want candidates with "outstanding communication skills" and "who are team players.

Other top abilities include "ability to make decisions and solve problems," "ability to obtain and process information," and "ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work."

Somewhat important candidate skills/qualities on the list are the "ability to create and/or edit written reports" and the "ability to sell or influence others."

Being in the communications business myself, I was pleased and not surprised about the emphasis on communication. I do find myself concerned about the impact of the internet and the "instant-ness" of it all. I am not alone.

In an October 2012 Project Information Literacy Research Report entitled "Learning Curve: How College Graduates Solve Information Problems Once They Join the Workplace," researchers learned a disturbing trend: many college graduates rely too much on Google and other "instant" sources to do conduct their own research. They lack the patience and persistence to continue to delve deeper when looking for info.

That's sad, especially when employers says they want college grads who will go out and search more extensively for information, digest that, and offer comments and suggestions.

Too often, employers say, new employees are like drones, doing what they are told, without offering suggestions for improvement.

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According to the survey, employers said they want college grads to have the following competencies:
•Ability to engage team members during the research process
•Retrieve information using a variety of formats
•Find patterns and making connections
•Take a deep dive into the "information reservoir"

They also want new hires to leave their work stations and make connections with co-workers. They want them to tap colleagues as important information sources.

Employers see new grads as reluctant to push away from their desks and ask questions and talk!

This could be the downside of social media. It is so easy to type and post. It takes more effort to pick up the phone and chat, or to get away from the computer screen and walk over to a co-worker to ask a question.

That's something we all could work on.

Time for me to get up and stretch my legs.

And good luck to all grads looking for summer employment and those first career jobs!