What employers want from graduates: diverse skills, instant value

Nearly 30% of employers judge new hires within two weeks of hiring them

Today, employers expect entry-level employees to learn on the fly and prove their worth within the first few weeks, Jared Lindzon reports for Fast Company.

A recent Harris Poll survey found that—of the 319 executives queried—27% reported forming opinions of entry-level workers within two weeks of hire, and 78% said they decided within three months whether those new workers would be successful.

"My generation, who grew up in the '60s and went to work in the'70s, we laugh because I feel like so little was expected of us. We had a year or two to prove ourselves," says Candice Carpenter Olson, co-founder of education company Fullbridge, which commissioned the survey.

Students say they're ready for the workforce. Employers disagree.

Now that workplaces are so data-driven, it is easier for companies to track performance and output, Lindzon writes, which means it is more difficult for employees to go unnoticed in their first weeks.

Additionally, many companies never replenished their staffing levels after trimming them during the Great Recession. This means each person is expected to carry a larger workload and have more diverse skills. Instead of hiring an IT person and an accountant, one person must now be able to take on both of those rolls.

"They need more out of every person that's on the team," says Nicole Cox, chief recruitment officer of Decision Toolbox, a recruiting agency. "They've looking for a broader skill set and a more well-rounded candidate."

How to ensure recent graduates succeed

During the application process, recent graduates should make sure they ask detailed questions about the expectations for the role, says Cox.

Gallup: The 'big six' experiences that turn successful students into successful employees

"They should really interview the employer as much as they're being interviewed," she says. "And after they're hired, ask if they're meeting those expectations."

Miscommunication is common among those unfamiliar with corporate culture and may lead to a misuse and misunderstanding of their abilities and skills.

Work-ready programs also help students graduate with an understanding of professional environments, Carpenter Olson says.

"They should walk into the game knowing all the rules and how to play it," she says. "From day one you want to demonstrate that you're actually going to make a difference, and they would really miss you if you left" (Lindzon, Fast Company, 10/1).

Thoughts on the story? Tweet us at @eab_daily and let us know.

Next in Today's Briefing

On the college hunt with Malia Obama, coveted prospective student

Next Briefing

  • Manage Your Events
  • Saved webpages and searches
  • Manage your subscriptions
  • Update personal information
  • Invite a colleague