Are College Students Ready for Work?

Joseph Stubblebine
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While most people consider a college degree a prerequisite when it comes to building a career, it appears that most college graduates are less than fully prepared for the search and interview process itself. A recent study, The Multi-Generational Job Search, conducted by Millennial Branding and Nexxt points out the key ways a college degree does and doesn't prepare a college graduate for the working world.

According to the study, while a college degree and elements of the college experience are deemed useful by HR professionals, the most important element in a successful career placement is "cultural fit." Job recruiters want to know that a college graduate is able to adapt to the company's culture. An ability to understand human dynamics and adherence to expected social behaviors is key for a successful job applicant.

Hiring managers consider personality to be one of the key elements in to finding a successful candidate, particularly people with positive attitudes and good communications skills. This may be bad news for some recent college graduates, given that HR professionals find 33 percent of them display bad attitudes during job interviews. Students may be underprepared for these interviews in part because companies tend not to communicate their changing employment needs to the collegiate marketplace.

With 59 percent of those surveyed stating that they do not believe college graduates are prepared for the real world and a full 73 percent believing that colleges are only partially successful at preparing their graduates for the working world, it is clear that college students need to prove themselves as they set out on their search for a career.

There are some things recent college graduates can do to make themselves more attractive to job recruiters who no longer place a college degree at the top of their "must-have" list. HR professionals in the study were impressed by the college courses graduates had taken that were relevant to the job they were seeking, as well as internships. Job-seeking college graduates should highlight this kind of experience and knowledge on their resumes to establish themselves as good fits at potential companies.

In addition, while most college graduates first go to job boards in their search, 71 percent of HR professionals state that applicants who come to them by means of a referral are given high priority in the hiring process. College graduates would therefore be well advised to use some of the contacts they made during college, including during any internships, to bridge the gap between college and the working world.

While the Multi-Generational Job Search study indicates that many college graduates are indeed not ready for work, many of the perceived deficiencies are those of perception and presentation. If a college graduate seeking work presents himself professionally, looks for elements that indicate a good "fit" with the company, takes advantage of any referrals and puts forth a positive attitude, he may be able to prove himself ready for the working world after all.


(Photo courtesy of scottchan at


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