The helpful folks at the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) have recently provided vital information for college graduates entering the work force. This is must-have information, for knowing what employers want in new hires should be part of every graduate’s career plan.
According to NACE’s Job Outlook 2013 Survey, the number one skill/quality employers seek in job candidates is “ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization.”
Here’s the NACE top ten in order:
- Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization.
- Ability to work in a team structure.
- Ability to make decisions and solve problems.
- Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work.
- Ability to obtain and process information.
- Ability to analyze quantitative data.
- Technical knowledge related to the job.
- Proficiency with computer software programs.
- Ability to create and/or edit written reports.
- Ability to sell or influence others (NACE, 2012)
This information is timely and relevant for me as well. For my doctoral dissertation, I am currently formulating research on the influence of Web 2.0 technologies on Millennial Generation students’ interpersonal communication skills and abilities. My own research echos the NACE finding — employers want new hires who can communicate effectively face to face.
In fact, Numbers 1 and 10 go hand in hand. Successful employees need excellent interpersonal communication skills in order to sell and influence others. Book after book, study after study, all proclaim that employers want effective communicators, but these works often cite “written and oral communication skill” equally. However, the NACE study is clear: the ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization is critically important.
Why is there such sudden emphasis on face-to-face communication among employers? Could it be that there really is a deleterious effect of growing up digital, of being a heavy user of Web 2.0-enabled technologies? Could it be that college grads of today are less skilled (or less predisposed) to communicate effectively face to face?
I have been curious about such questions since I began my college teaching career in 2004.
By next spring, I hope to have clear answers to such questions once my mixed methods research is completed. I intend to study the phenomenon of Millennial Generation students’ interpersonal skills and abilities in considerable depth. I am excited about what I will learn.
But in the meantime, I hope all my students will pay attention to what NACE’s study found out.