Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

The Thing Employers Look For When Hiring Recent Graduates

ARCHIVES
hxdbzxy/Shutterstock.com

When I was 17, if you asked me how I planned on getting a job in the future, I think I would have said: Get into the right college. When I was 18, if you asked me the same question, I would have said: Get into the right classes. When I was 19: Get good grades.

But when employers recently named the most important elements in hiring a recent graduate, college reputation, GPA, and courses finished at the bottom of the list. At the top, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, were experiences outside of academics: Internships, jobs, volunteering, and extracurriculars.

Chronicle of Higher Ed
 

"When employers do hire from college, the evidence suggests that academic skills are not their primary concern," says Peter Cappelli, a Wharton professor and the author of a new paper on job skills. "Work experience is the crucial attribute that employers want even for students who have yet to work full-time."

Before you retreat to the comment section and scream at me for saying that school, classes, and grades don't matter, let me say: I don't think this should be interpreted as a sign that schools, classes, and grades don't matter. Employers might not crave academic skills. But students often qualify for the "right" internships by getting good grades in relevant classes at challenging schools. In this calculation, a strong academic record buys you a strong experience record, so when an employer is evaluating your internships, he's indirectly evaluating your academic achievements, too.

But the U.S. economy isn't a monolith: Do some industries care more about internships than others?

The Chronicle has the answer: Media and communications companies are gaga for internships and uniquely indifferent toward your classes. Health care companies care the most about your major, and white-collar businesses care the most about your GPA. Ironically, education employers care the least about grades.

Chronicle of Higher Ed

 

Can America's employers really be that indifferent toward what college I attend? Could they really read "Harvard University" and just see "University"?

Consider the larger picture. Every year, about 3 million people start their first year of college in this country. About 1,600 of them enroll at Harvard. That means that, relatively speaking, nobody goes to Harvard. Harvard does not exist. Add up all the capital-E Elite schools that jostle for the top 20 national universities and colleges in US News' annual rankings, and you've reached just 1 percent of the higher-ed population.

So, while it's true that some consulting firms and banks take first-years exclusively from these campuses, they are fishing in a minuscule pond. Their elitism is diluted in a survey that spans the entire economy.

When you drill down into how a college's reputation affects hiring, employers' mean rating of "regionally known" colleges and universities was practically indistinguishable from their rating for elite schools.

Chronicle of Higher Ed
 

Internships occupy an awkward place in our labor market and in our lives. Many of them are indistinguishable from jobs; but while unpaid jobs are considered immoral, unpaid internships are considered common. On a day-to-day basis, even desirable internships can resemble worthless months of servitude, where meaningless tasks interrupt long stretches of numbing boredom. Yet, employers will eventually regard these agonizing periods of numbing boredom to be the most significant professional moments of our college career. 

(Top image via hxdbzxy /Shutterstock.com)

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.