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  • Job Outlook 2016: The Attributes Employers Want to See on New College Graduates’ Resumes

    Trends & Predictions
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    What do employers look for when they are seeking new college graduates to take on jobs?

    According to NACE's Job Outlook 2016 survey, they are looking for leaders who can work as part of a team.

    More than 80 percent of responding employers said they look for evidence of leadership skills on the candidate's resume, and nearly as many seek out indications that the candidate is able to work in a team. (See Figure 1.)

    Employers also cited written communication skills, problem-solving skills, verbal communication skills, and a strong work ethic as important candidate attributes.

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    In terms of attributes heading the list, current results are largely consistent with those posted in last year's survey. Respondents to the current survey gave slightly greater weight to verbal communication skills than was the case last year, and slightly less weight to analytical/quantitative skills.

    In addition, while academic major has the most significant influence on an employer's decision to hire one candidate over another, leadership roles, participation in extracurricular activities, and a high GPA are key factors. (See Figure 2.)

    The Job Outlook 2016 survey was conducted from August 5, 2015, through September 13, 2015, among NACE employer members. A total of 201 NACE employer members participated in the survey—a 20.1 percent response rate.

    NACE members can access the Job Outlook 2016 report for free through MyNACE.

    Figure 1: Attributes employers seek on a candidate's resume

    Attribute % of respondents
    Leadership 80.1%
    Ability to work in a team 78.9%
    Communication skills (written) 70.2%
    Problem-solving skills 70.2%
    Communication skills (verbal) 68.9%
    Strong work ethic 68.9%
    Initiative 65.8%
    Analytical/quantitative skills 62.7%
    Flexibility/adaptability 60.9%
    Technical skills 59.6%
    Interpersonal skills (relates well to others) 58.4%
    Computer skills 55.3%
    Detail-oriented 52.8%
    Organizational ability 48.4%
    Friendly/outgoing personality 35.4%
    Strategic planning skills 26.7%
    Creativity 23.6%
    Tactfulness 20.5%
    Entrepreneurial skills/risk-taker 18.6%
    Source: Job Outlook 2016, National Association of Colleges and Employers

    Figure 2: Influence of attributes

    Attribute 2016 Average Influence Rating* 2015 Average Influence Rating*
    Major 4.0 3.9
    Has held leadership position 3.9 3.9
    Has been involved in extracurricular activities (clubs, sports, student government, etc.) 3.6 3.6
    High GPA (3.0 or above) 3.5 3.6
    School attended 2.9 2.8
    Has done volunteer work 2.8 2.8
    Is fluent in a foreign language 2.2 2.4
    Has studied abroad 2.0 2.1
    *5-point scale, where 1=No influence at all, 2=Not much influence, 3=Somewhat of an influence, 4=Very much influence, and 5=Extreme influence.
    Source: Job Outlook 2016, National Association of Colleges and Employers
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