90% of students say they have great interview skills. Their employers beg to differ.

A recent survey by iCIMS Inc. found that one-third of all entry-level job applicants are unqualified for the positions they applied to. 

According to the survey, which polled 400 employers and 400 college students, there's a significant mismatch between how students perceive themselves and how employers perceive them.

Of the 400 respondents who were employers, 60% told iCIMS that applicants do not know enough about the hiring companies and industries they're applying for. These employers also said that three out of four applicants don't send thank-you notes after interviews, and they wished applicants asked better questions during interviews.

However, 90% of student respondents told iCIMS they felt confident about their interview skills.

The survey also found a mismatch of expectations around skills and salary. While employers report that engineering, business, and computer science skills are the most in-demand, the survey found that less than half of students majored in these subjects. Also, according to the survey, students expect to earn over $53,000 in their first job—far more than the average $45,000 employers expect to pay them.

CEOs make urgent plea for skilled workers. Higher ed, take notice.

The five most coveted majors employers told iCIMS they're looking for in candidates, and the respective percentage of employers looking to hire someone from this major (compared with the percentage of seniors who graduated from that major in 2015) are:

  1. Business/Accounting, 81.3% vs. 19.2%;
  2. Engineering, 75.9% vs. 5.2%;
  3. Computer sciences, 64.3% vs. 3.1%;
  4. Economics/Social sciences, 33.9% vs. 8.8%; and
  5. Physical sciences, 20.5% vs. 1.6%.

Who is responsible for closing the 'skills gap'?

But despite the mismatch of expectations, the prospects for job-seeking grads aren't entirely bleak.

Some good news for them comes by way of a different survey, conducted by the National Association of College and Employers (NACE).

The NACE report found that employers plan to hire 5% more graduated than the previous year—a trend going strong for eight years in a row. 

The 4 most important job skills for an entry-level candidate

Writing for HR Dive, Valerie Bolden-Barrett suggests one way colleges can help employers and grads get on the same page: employer-college partnerships.

When colleges partner with employers, Bolden-Barrett says, graduates are more likely to develop the skills employers want.

Both employers and educators "share the common goal of getting graduates better prepared for their entry into the workplace," explains Bolden-Barrett (Bolden-Barrett, HR Dive, 5/11; Gee, Wall Street Journal, 4/25). 

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