The Real Reason New College Grads Can’t Get Hired

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It’s because college kids today can’t do math, one line of reasoning goes. Or they don’t know science. Or they’re clueless about technology, aside from their myriad social-media profiles. These are all good theories, but the problem with the unemployability of these young adults goes way beyond a lack of STEM skills. As it turns out, they can’t even show up on time in a button-down shirt and organize a team project. 

The technical term for navigating a workplace effectively might be soft skills, but employers are facing some hard facts: the entry-level candidates who are on tap to join the ranks of full-time work are clueless about the fundamentals of office life.

survey by the Workforce Solutions Group at St. Louis Community College finds that more than 60% of employers say applicants lack “communication and interpersonal skills” — a jump of about 10 percentage points in just two years. A wide margin of managers also say today’s applicants can’t think critically and creatively, solve problems or write well.

Another employer survey, this one by staffing company Adecco, turns up similar results. The company says in a statement, “44% of respondents cited soft skills, such as communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration, as the area with the biggest gap.” Only half as many say a lack of technical skills is the pain point.

As much as academics go on about the lack of math and science skills, bosses are more concerned with organizational and interpersonal proficiency. The National Association of Colleges and Employers surveyed more than 200 employers about their top 10 priorities in new hires. Overwhelmingly, they want candidates who are team players, problem solvers and can plan, organize and prioritize their work. Technical and computer-related know-how placed much further down the list.

Jobs are going unfilled as a result, which hurts companies and employees. The annual global Talent Shortage Survey from ManpowerGroup finds that nearly 1 in 5 employers worldwide can’t fill positions because they can’t find people with soft skills. Specifically, companies say candidates are lacking in motivation, interpersonal skills, appearance, punctuality and flexibility.

(MORE: Black Swan Event: The Beginning of the End of Unpaid Internships)

One thing that does appear to make a difference is internships, according to a Harris Interactive survey of more than 2,000 college students and 1,000 hiring managers on behalf of textbook company Chegg: more than 80% of employers want new grads they hire to have completed a formal internship, but only 8% of students say interning in a field related to their major is something they spend a lot of time doing. Instead, the top extracurricular activities are hanging out with friends, working in an unrelated job and eating out.

And all internships are not created equal. Overall, only about half of college grads say they’re prepared for the workplace — and the number of bosses who think they’re prepared is lower than 40%.

Among students who don’t intern, only 44% consider themselves ready for the job market. That improves for students with unpaid internships; 58% say they’re prepared for the workplace. But among students who complete paid internships, that number jumps to 70%.

Part of the problem is that you don’t know what you don’t know, as the saying goes. Harris Interactive found a huge gap between students’ perceptions of their abilities and managers’ perceptions of those same skills.

(MORE: Three Little Words to Never Say in an Interview)

None of the students think they’re entirely prepared for the workforce, but they’re a lot more confident than the managers surveyed.

There’s a 22-percentage-point difference between the two groups’ assessment of the students’ financial skills, which Inside Higher Ed calls “alarming,” in an article about the research. Managers also take a much dimmer view of students’ abilities to communicate with authority figures, prioritize and organize their work, manage projects, work in teams and with diverse groups.

It’s just harder to teach these skills, experts say. “It is hard to correct a lifetime of bad habits in a short period of time,” Roderick Nunn, vice chancellor for economic development and workforce solutions at St. Louis Community College, tells the St. Louis Beacon.

704 comments
younotus
younotus

This doesn't describe any of my unemployed, recent college graduate friends, nor myself.  


When I graduated from a prestigious college with a liberal arts degree (mistake number one), I couldn't get a job making more than minimum wage. And it took me three months to get a retail job, after sending out over 800 resumes, as I graduated right at the crash. From those 800+ resumes, I received three call-backs. Two for entry level positions in offices. (P.S. I had worked part-time throughout all of college, in an office, doing more complex work than these entry-level positions). The one offer I received was in retail. I made less than 900 per month and had to move back in with my parents, and I was working as often and as much as my store would offer, and received no benefits. 


Three months later, I finally got an office job - making $10 an hour, two hours away from home. I left at 5AM (mega metro area - traffic) and arrived home around 7PM. I saved money and moved out of my parent's house one month later, to live in a sketchy neighborhood closer to work (it was all I could afford). Two months later, I was laid off as the company went bankrupt. 


Two weeks later, I luckily scored another job. I actually finagled my way into a STEM job, using my undergraduate work experience (despite this not being my degree). I worked as much as possible, saved as much money as possible, and moved to a safer neighborhood. And eight months later I was laid off as the company shut down. This time, I was unemployed for 10 months, applying to hundreds of jobs per week, and rapidly draining my savings account to pay the bills. I got three call-backs in this time. One resulted in a job. And largely because it was a personal connection. I am highly competent in my work, both hard and soft skills, yet that's what it took.


Fast forward three years. I've been working hard at the job, making slight financial progress and career progress. I like it, however, I'm still not breaking more than $30,000 per year - in a STEM job. I'm saving money to buy a home soon, because rent is getting ridiculous. And then I get laid-off as the company is shut down. That's three lay-offs since I graduated five-ish years ago. I've been unemployed now for 10 months. I completely drained my savings just paying the bills through these layoffs, especially the last one - to what amounts to a downpayment on a house. I had to move back in with my parents (possibly the worst part of this) but if it weren't for them, I would have no where to go. And I've done everything right. I've done everything I've been told to do, to have a good life. And still, I can't help but feel like I'm losing again and again and getting nowhere. I'm tired of starting over, too. 


Worse, I know many, many college graduates in similar situations. And these are intelligent, hard-working, absolutely employable people who also graduated with me from a top 20 university. People that I would happily hire. Anyhow, I don't really know how this story ends. Other than, I no longer buy into the false security of the typical 9-5 job. or a college education. In fact, I recommend most people don't go to college. Go to a technical school. Get a job that teaches you hard skills in an in-demand industry, that isn't going to cost you $100,000 over four years. And employ yourself doing that. (I have student debt, on top of the $70,000 that I ALREADY PAID to my university by working throughout school). At least, that's what I'm trying for now. I started a small business and hope it grows, 'cause I've given up on trying to take what I can get from someone else, only to lose it all time and time again. 



tbyam
tbyam

These articles, and commenters of these articles, always oversimplify a complicated situation.  I'm a middle aged person who's been in the workforce almost 30 years now, in more than one career, and I have some sympathy for their plight.  


Certainly I see some problems in the general narcissism parents are raising their kids to have; HOWEVER, the vast majority of the success stories in the world have narcissists at their center.  So exactly what do you expect?


Unfortunately, American management is overrun with narcissists who have often gotten their status because of said personality.  Since we've ALL been taught how hard work, paying your dues, getting credentials, etc, etc, etc is the path to success, do you REALLY think the young folks are out of line for expecting their mass of college debt to land them a better job than minding the register at Starbucks?


No.  And I'm talking to people my age and older.  The economy we grew up in is GONE GONE GONE.  It is NOT coming back.  Ever.  The world is small now.  We don't make things in this country any more.  It's time for everybody to realize that.


The reality is businesses, including colleges, exist to make money.  They don't have any interest in you once you're gone.  Businesses also have a vested interest in keeping an abundant supply of cheap labor.  So many of them are very comfortable with "spin" such as there aren't any qualified candidates.  Need more STEM workers, etc.  These arguments are used as tools to drive the price of labor down.  It helps justify cheap foreign labor and outsourcing.


Yes, businesses do that sort of thing. 


But, we live in a free country.  This is to the young people, and old if they care.  You aren't going to fix what I just said.  None of us are.  You will have to figure out your path to happiness, and you don't owe anybody squat.  If someone is biased against you because you're too young, too old, too pretty, too ugly, etc, etc. you aren't going to change their minds.  Move on.  It's all about making a living.  If you can do that and stay out of a cube farm, you'll probably be happier any way.  While I certainly don't have the answer, I do know that there are far more credentialed candidates than their are jobs, and most will have to do something else anyway.


Just remember, while you don't owe anybody squat, nobody owes you squat either.

erinsky89
erinsky89

@ benj009:

Wow, you're going to brag about hiring cheap foreign labor, exploiting them and paying them dirt? (I surmise that's probably why you hired foreign people who "aren't afraid of hard work"..... judging by your attitude.) Well, thanks for proving your low intelligence. Most of my generation works part/full time AND goes to school at the same time, so far be it to call them lazy. AND they are deep into debt due to their college education which ummm....got them nowhere. How would you like it if you paid out your a$$ for your foreign staff and they refused to do any work? I'm sure you'd be upset that you wasted so much money on something that doesn't pay off. That is how I feel with wasting my money (AND TIME) on college. By the way, I don't think that anyone is actually AFRAID of hard work (it's not that intimidating) however, self-respecting people will realize that the harder you work, the more you are somebody else's slave. I pride myself on not working hard. I'd rather work smart.

How about asking WHY college students have degrees in the first place, if they don't have any marketable skills? Oh yeah, it's so that universities can suck their money like vampires while wasting four+ years of their lives. I was trying to get a pharmacy tech degree (I already have a Bachelors in Biology, which is apparently worthless) but today I realized, what's the f***ing point? They are making me take an ethics class that requires me to do math calculations pertaining to some philosophical theory. I am not gonna sit here and get screwed out of another year of my life.

One thing college grads ARE good at is typing (they make you take a lot of English classes for some strange reason and type a lot of reports.) However, you can't even get a crappy job as a secretary without having four years of experience typing on a computer. In four years, they'll be asking people to have six years of experience to work at Burger King, no joke. I honestly believe that my generation will NEVER get ahead in life because employers are always finding criteria to weed us out. They are always finding dumb reasons not to hire us.


@Garrison-- I think that has already happened. How many young college graduates do you see who actually have decent jobs? Most of the ones I know work at stores.


Garrison
Garrison

If critical thinking and other soft skills are so important....... why does my interview consist of sitting a room with people I don't know answering questions about my resume?  Shouldn't there be an aptitude test to determine what sort of soft skills I have and then hire based on one of those objective measures? 


The hiring process in most companies consists of one phone interview discussing my skills and then a few other interviews with very little emphasis on testing whether or not I have the skills I'm describing on my resume. The Human Resource community really needs to get up to date on how they assess applicants and make it less subjective and more vetting whether the candidates have the skills they want.


Oh yeah... they probably should pay more than $35,000 grand a year for a college educated graduate that has consistently seen their debt load go up year after year if they want those skills. Or else there will be a skills crash in this country and the US will end up like Japan where young people just decide its better to go work at McDonalds for the rest of their lives. 

Dgvandehey
Dgvandehey

Wow, I think this author is just angry at young people. This is the most nonsensical article I have ever read. It's amazing Time would put such garbage up. This writer is part of a dying trend that is journalism today. Poorly researched, and based on her own opinion, this author misses so many opportunities to dig further into our current economic crisis, which has left so many people in our generation unemployed. I can only hope Time will fire this writer and she finds herself waiting tables at a truck stop. After seeing this article I will never read another article in Time. You have lost a reader forever.

IDK002
IDK002

University professors are promoted based, in particular, on the student satisfaction surveys routinely filled out by the students at the end of each course. Supposedly this "natural selection" process results in the curriculum and pedagogy that students like. 

Does "more likable" means "making more employable graduates"?

I am just wondering, what if salaries of the university professors were linked to the employment rates of the graduates?

tiredtoday
tiredtoday

This whole notion of ‘employers not being able to find suitable candidates’ is always one-sided with blame on the educational systems.The educational system is by no means perfect, but it’s not the only problem here.

What fails to be acknowledged is that processes used by employers to find job candidates also needs improvement.The majority of jobs are now applied for online and a large chunk of employers use computer algorithms to pull key terms out of applications/resumes and then interview the folks who the computers decide fit the bill.It’s pretty hard to know someone’s attitude and personality and whether it fits with the work culture from a computer.The candidates with both hard and soft skills do exist, but aren’t being found with this system—and employers need to acknowledge and change that.

Additionally, many companies have reduced the size of HR departments and changed their hiring processes.Most ad descriptions for jobs have a bulk of information that is utterly useless in actually explaining what is needed to do the job and many HR people do not necessarily know what is required to be good at a job because they are screening and interviewing candidates based on these haphazard list of qualities rather than a true understanding of what the job entails.

Finally, companies are also cutting costs and not providing employees with training and mentorship as they once did.They expect people to come in knowing exactly how to do a job within the company’s way of doing it, but are providing no support as to how to do this.In the past, employers invested in this kind of thing because they understood that it could help shape their employees and give the employees support that made them want to stay with a company long-term.

lotrfan29
lotrfan29

Well. Just learned another hard truth on LinkedIn from some HR person in a discussion forum.

Apparently, most jobs posted online nowadays are only posted publicly because employers are legally required to do so because of Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action laws. In truth, most companies already have a few people in mind.

For those of you saying college grads or Millenials don't apply to enough jobs and are lazy, keep what I typed above in mind.

betabay
betabay

Wow. This is a tough article to swallow. 


While I feel it helpful to cite the specific areas where college students, or anyone in that age bracket, can spend focused energy getting better at, it feels like an easy way out to state 'It’s just harder to teach these skills' (experts say).


It's likely not as difficult as it is to teach accounting or physics or german literature... It takes a commitment to teaching a type of curriculum that requires soft skills vs. rote memorization or purely quantitative abilities.


Internships are also a way out for academia. Internships are merely another way of saying 'experience'. You can help teach students how to use todays skills and apply them to whatever curriculum you're teaching.


One of the best examples I've found are the skills taught at GeneralAssemb.ly (full disclosure, I'm friends with one of the founders and have been involved in their expansions efforts). I regularly recommend students of all stages to use their online platform to learn relevant soft and hard skills that aren't taught at any college (please someone prove me wrong by showing me a school that does...would make my heart sing).


I hope that students and teachers reading this take away a simple lesson...THIS IS FIXABLE! 


Help students gain experiences and education. Stop focusing on the grade and help them learn real-world, transferable skills. These skills can apply to learning any topic and will make your alumni base grow instead of shrink in their earning ability, desire to give back, and the overall impact of your organization.


Nice article Martha.

tg_teja
tg_teja

As an undergrad engineer three months from graduating, I would just like to point out that this lack of interpersonal skills might not be a "lack" at all. It's a completely different stage to go from interacting with students in college on team projects to grown adults in the workforce. Being a woman and an engineer, that gap just widens. While these skills I agree cannot be taught, a person will adapt with time. 

virgilmaro1015
virgilmaro1015

THE AUTHOR OF THIS ARTICLE SHOULD BE ASHAMED. First of all, for writing articles with this level of stupidity, I can't even imagine all the shameful things Martha C. White had to do to get into Princeton or, ironically, to write for TIME magazine. 


I have a Chemical Engineering degree and I passed the FE (although it is not a requirement for eventually signing in Canada) and I have been unemployed for 8 months.  I also wrote the CFA exam Level 1 to polish my finance knowledge and I am waiting for my results.  I am bilingual in English and French.  I have lost my last job following layoffs at my last company.  


At least from my perspective and that perspective has received much support from other employees, a great majority of the people who were laid-off were extremely promising employees with excellent interpersonal skills.  In economic times like these, people are being laid-off and are not getting hired because management fears that great employees will replace them. 



ObservingTheTimes
ObservingTheTimes

This is the most revealing sentence in the piece: "44% of respondents cited soft skills, such as communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration, as the area with the biggest gap."


While it is true that many young job applicants could develop their social skills, the employers who complain about a lack of "critical thinking" or "creativity" among applicants need to get a grip on reality.  Most people aren't creative or original thinkers and they never will be.  No amount of college education will change that, given that college isn't a creative thing to do (you spend four years studying other people's ideas, after all).  If employers persist in screening out candidates with good technical skills in favor of "creative critical thinkers" then they are never going to find good staff.  They will always end up rejecting the most able people and hiring BS artists who can gab their way through the interview.


It is utter foolishness to expect 20-something grads to be creative.  Leaving jobs unfilled because you can't find enough creatives to fill them with is a sign of management suicide.

Josh73
Josh73

It seems that a lot of the problem has to do with a bizarre phenomenon I see in technology firms, that being the want to mismatch engineers to marketing or management jobs which eats up engineers from the labor market.  Then employers complain that these people don't have interpersonal communication skills and critical thinking skills. Well no duh, engineering minded people with high communication and critical thinking skills have always been few and far between.  Engineering degrees consist of 2/3 engineering classes and only a small number of general education classes.  If you have your heart set on an engineer with high communication and critical thinking skills, then one of your only safe bets is an engineer with an MBA, but fewer employers are willing to pay the amounts those people rightfully command.  However, a manager does not need to know how to make the technology in order to market it or manage it; he merely needs to know what it does.  In the end though jobs go unfilled, companies become stagnant, and the economy continues to circle the drain.

But anyone could figure the above solutions out, so in actuality the skills gap is just a lie to try to push down wages and outsource.  And those hundreds of job postings that you see on corporate websites that go unfilled for months and continually get recycled aren't real. They are just a ploy to signal health to investors.



JonathanWashington
JonathanWashington

There's Also Criminal Records That Has A Effect On Getting A Job

DanielKendall
DanielKendall

Well, if more companies hired veterans instead of profiling us as mentally challenged wife beaters waiting to have a severe PTSD episode I would take articles like this more seriously. Meanwhile many veterans who do have the skills and qualities employers work for can't find a job that's not with a contractor or police department because employers are intimidated by them and continue to hire inept children.

JasmineLindros
JasmineLindros

My company has a definite generation gap.  The "long-timers" are over 50 years old, and we've been working here 20 to nearly 30 years.  We get here at 6:30-7AM, we work until 4:30-7PM, and we kept our jobs through three recessions.  The younger generation is about 20-25 years old, and can't make it to the office before 8AM.  They use their dual computer monitors to keep current on three Twitter threads while simultaneously updating their Facebook page on their cell phones.  Last week we lost a nine-year client, who had generated about $340k/year in billing, because our secretary for the last two years couldn't put the finishing touches on a project that HAD TO be delivered no later than December 30.  When we found out about her failure, I finished the project in, literally, two hours, and she had been "working" on the project for nearly three weeks without any concrete results.  Our new CAD staff wanted a closed office - I kid you not, they both specifically asked for a closed, private office - so they could talk on their personal cell phones DURING WORK HOURS without being overheard by the rest of us, NONE of whom have closed offices, including the president, vice-president, and CFO.  The only non-delusional youngster we've had in the last decade was a young man who wanted to apply to Annapolis.  We could tell him to do anything, and all he said was "okay."  He didn't bring his cell phone to the office.  He showed up at 7:50AM every morning.  He wasn't used to hard work, but when I took him out for a day of fieldwork in the rain and the mud (I had to loan him my spare boots), and we both got wet and cold and really muddy, he STILL showed up at 7:50 the next morning with bandages on his blisters.  This kid rocked, and we wish like heck he had stayed, but Annapolis is gonna get a winner.  Every other Gen-Xer we've hired has been a lazy, self-infatuated, delusional child, and they've never lasted more than a couple years - some lasted less than a month.  What's wrong with younger workers is the fact that they don't actually WORK, and the rare exceptions are nuggets of 24K gold in an ocean of horse apples.

littlejohn25
littlejohn25

graduated with a 3.96 Gpa biology and chemistry worked 2 part time jobs to pay for the degree averaged 16 credit hours a semester every this equals no jobs of any kind after graduation which is depressing

what I have mostly gotten is false promises, you are over qualified, work for us as a volunteer for x months for a min wage part time job (gas is apparently free if you have limited funds) before we hire you or the "employer" not showing up to the appointment and sitting out in the waiting room the full day and sometimes multiple days my question is after all this stringing along these last 2 yrs of unemployment how am I such a loser that I cant get any part/full time employment

I know 16yr olds no experience beat me out of 15$/hr jobs and a couple of high school grads getting their first job 30$/hr (  state job) because their family is friends or being related to the employer and yet when crap hit the fans people wonder how inept individuals get into these positions some of the people doing the hiring don't even need to be in that position when they aren't hiring their groupies they hire to fill and just take the top of the list and they wonder why they have such a high turn over rate

what im trying to say is live my life then call me lazy and undependable not call me lazy and undependable  without knowing a thing about me  just based off of my age and the actions of a few there are lazy in every generation not just mine I can honestly say this I missed 2 days of school in the 4yrs I was trying to better my life  I missed the same 2 days of work in both those part time jobs why cause I went to a funeral and all my superiors was informed on the matter                          

 from the ages 13-16 I worked as a laborer at a small business 5$/hr   16-19 12$/hr  according to them I was their manager I ran the store when they had other appointments which including  taking records of all services provided and money transferred they trained me how to run their small operation(only reason I got the part time jobs later) without the training no one would have a clue how to do a thing imitation of the real is the beginning of the learning process thought I should throw that in here since apparently the lack of my success is getting my first real job to late in life 

I must apologize  for ranting and my lack of caring about proper grammar 


 

DerekVKapha
DerekVKapha

its funny because as much as you try and with the best of grades it's still tough. I've had some good friends basically beg for internships and even struggle for volunteering positions in hopes of getting a full-time position; while many would succumb to such a pittance I refused and will not subscribe to such an insult from private/commercial employers. Government jobs are gold and job stability is where it's at.

My advice is SAVE your money with whatever work you guys have now stop partying, overspending, buying in excess.  If you have the opportunity try and get citizenship to another country. I did and a lot of options have been opening up in terms of real estate and even teaching. The US isn't such a welcoming place for college grads anymore; just another scheme to squeeze money.



Miss-Olivia
Miss-Olivia

I see a lot of posts arguing about the work ethics of different generations.

 I think the problem is times have changed and its impossible to try to compare two generations who had such different expectations put on them.

Think of it this way. My dad had four brothers. My dad was the only one who went to college and he got in without having to pass Algebra 1. My mom got into a university without having taken two years of foreign language. All of my dad's brothers made more money then my dad even though none of them got a degree and all of them went to jail at one point which my dad never did.


Nowadays to get into college you have to pass Algebra 2 and most universities want some higher level math courses. Many require three years of foreign language. They all want high GPAs and extra curricular. In addition high school students are bombarded with information about how much more employable they would be with a degree. So they try to fulfill all these college requirements, get the best grades, enter competitions, apply for scholarships, and they don't have time to try and get a job too. 

In fact someone at my school wanted to get a job but her mom, who is a teacher, told her not to because focusing on her academics would bring her more money in the long run when scholarship money came in.  She traveled to other countries with the schools MUN team. She starred in theater productions. She went to Running Start and made the Dean's List. She is now attending American University on a $20,000 scholarship. There's a poster of her in our school's academic counseling center. When she graduates she will probably get a job that pays less then the ones my uncles did with criminal records and no college education. 

Hopefully you can see why a lot of college students are feeling frustrated. They've worked very hard only to find out that the things they did in college and high school might be the most exciting part of their lives because the skills they've learned aren't worth very much by people that have a very different idea of what the definition of "hard work" and "success" are.


I don't think that either generation in lazy, I just think that expectations have changed and that no generation can tell the other that they should have made different decisions because the times are too different.

kepha32
kepha32

BS. My motivation, my postivity, has been crushed by these companies. Try applying to every job you can for 2 years and being told you are overqualified. Many friends got jobs only by lying on resumes...not puffing themselves up, but by omitting degrees, or dumbing down work experience. Then the longer you are unemployed, the harder to get a job. They don't give you credit for applying to hundreds of jobs a month. You might as well be a lazy bum. Same result. Less stress

Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

"Specifically, companies say candidates are lacking in motivation, interpersonal skills, appearance, punctuality and flexibility."

with three applicants for every job opening, I am not buying this excuse



RipD
RipD

Checking back in after a while. Some good points being made here by millennials. I am reading what seems to be some anger and denial as well. To clarify a few things, most big companies want to hire, and will hire, recent college grads. What some of you don't seem to be hearing is who they will hire. People who don't have a good track record or don't demonstrate a willingness to work hard aren't likely to get the jobs.


One writer below mentioned a shift in attitude toward working-to-live rather than living-to-work. That's a fine and valid choice to make. If you were running a company had could choose between several candidates at the same pay, would you chose the one who perhaps had potential or the one who you were sure would work hard and be committed to help you be successful? Put yourself in the managers role for a while and think about who you would hire. You can choose to not let work consume your life, and I applaud that. But then please don't complain that other people who work harder get ahead. We all make the decision to find the right balance between work and personal life.


I'll share this again: I have to work harder to be competitive. Most of the people I work with are smarter and better educated. I can only keep up via hard work and tenacity. I could also choose to get another degree, but I have not done so. If I were to get laid off (not entirely unlikely), I would likely go get a Masters degree. I am where I am because I work hard. I would very much like to to be one or two promotions ahead of where I am. 


I'm in no way trying to denigrate the 20-something generation. A a group you're better educated than I am, and certainly more than I was at your age. As an insider at large company who knows how hiring works, I'm trying to share with you how it is. It is not my intent to be critical or offensive. 


MikeLand
MikeLand

I consider it a tremendous blessing I was born into work.  The parents changed my diapers on a sales counter at their store.  My first paying job was in 1st grade when dad paid me a nickel to assemble tricycles that arrived.  I got to help with inventory and he paid me $20.  Through the years I assembled bikes, stocked shelves, and then in Jr. High got my own register til.  It was a 10-drawer NCR machine and drawer # 10 was mine.  Mom put $30 in change it in and I sold hardware, auto parts, and appliance parts.  He closed the store in 1995 after Walmart came to the area.  I had already started working outside the store and was stocking at a grocery store, cleaning the meat market, and helping run a summertime concessions stand.  Then when he closed the store, I went to work as a funeral property seller.  When the funeral home cheated me out of considerable commissions, I left it and went to college.  While at college, I did work/study, had an outside job with a fuel jobber, and sold my plasma for $30 per pop about every four days.  I am also considerably blessed that with all my efforts, I never had a single penny of loans to get through college with two degrees.  Its because I never stopped working, ever.  So, now fast forward to today's kids.  Take my 25 year old nephew who has never held a job in his life.  He has tens of thousands in student loans and continues to run them up instead of doing any work to avoid them.  He stays mostly buried in his War Craft screen and barely ever leaves his room except to grab a soda.  Then there's the kid we fired at work.  We hired him from an Affirmative Action job fair at the local university.  From day #1 we had trouble with him.  His work ethics were horrendous.  His favorite line was, "Why do I have to do this?"  He was often late and he left early a lot.  He had to catch rides because under his own admission, he had 20 speeding tickets.  Then came the beginning of the end.  He completed training and we put him on a weekend shift alone.  So from his first weekend our network operations in NYC detected a critical hardware failure.  He did not answer the phone so I had to go up.  He had brought an Iphone speaker system and had it blasting rap music at top volume.  He did not hear the alarm that a component in a critical system was failing.  I put the system on its backup and told him to watch closer.  This happened two more weekends and finally one of the vice presidents flew in for his regular office visit and fired him.  A week later his mom calls and I tell her we fired him.  She says, "I can understand that, he loses every job he's ever had due to not caring."

ajene16
ajene16

This article is not naming the real reason why recent graduates can't get jobs. The people in hiring positions have a bias against recent grads and look for any reason to say that we are not qualified for the position. I have done so many interviews where I found the employer took an offensive approach to the interview, looking for any reason not to hire me. When I have given them no such reason, I am complimented on my interview skills and told that they want someone with more work experience out of college. Internships don't cut it anymore. So many employers are looking for work after college because apparently any work you do in college does not count, even if it is a prestigious internship at an embassy abroad. Even if you are a student who graduated magna cum laude, held various leadership positions on campus, held down two part time jobs, completed one major and three minors which are all relevant they, still find some reason not to hire you. One such reason is that it takes you an hour to get to work, so they rather hire someone 30min away even if you are willing to relocate.

benj009
benj009

@Dgvandehey  


And Time has gained me as a reader! You are wrong. Your generation is the problem. You guys get out of school and expect to have a $40,000 job right out of college. Life doesn't work like that. Get off your a** and pay your dues! I blame the parents. They have coddled their children for far too long. Life doesn't work like that. Life will chew you up, and spit you out!  


I have two restaurants. Most of my staff are made up of foreigners. Why? Because they will give their best, and they aren't afraid of hard work! Unlike young Americans. 

865_568
865_568

@IDK002  

It's not so much the professors but the administrators (the business end of school) who should be held accountable.  At my university, the only folks making over $100,000/yr are the admin idiots.  Oh, and the business school professors.  Because, you know, they deserve more pay than researchers working on a cure for Alzheimer's. 

PKennedy
PKennedy

@tiredtoday And no one cares these days where you went to college or even, in some cases, IF you went to college. All they really care about are work references. In some cases even the entry level jobs specify "no academic references, no college professors, no clergy, no friends or family" can be used. And yet, get this: they recruit on college campuses anyway.

PacVang
PacVang

@lotrfan29

This is true. I went into a company as a Temp and was offered a full time job after a month. Due to legal technicalities, they couldn't just hand me the job on the spot. The company has to post the job internally and then externally where I can then apply. But nevermind that, they fluffed up the job posting with ridiculous requirements to deter applicants. 

tiredtoday
tiredtoday

@virgilmaro1015 I think you just proved why you don't have a job, according to the article.  They say they want people with critical thinking skills.....instead of critically thinking about whether this is true, you just call someone stupid?

SheraHarvey
SheraHarvey

@virgilmaro1015This is one of the best posts I have ever read, on this subject. My husband and I have both had a hard time finding work since about 2008. I have a degree and he doesn't. We are both very good at what we do and it seems that, more and more, the people being hired are not good at their jobs.
Now I know why we can't get hired.

865_568
865_568

@DanielKendall

I'm a veteran, too, and I see your point.  Military life instills a kind of discipline that you just don't lose when you take off the uniform.  And when you're in school, it's like "why are so many lazy idiots in college?"  But, even within civilian schools, not every student is created equal.  I've met a few non-vet students who are surprisingly disciplined. But, it doesn't even matter, because they are still being crushed by the economy.  It's stupid.  The generic response is always "you're not trying hard enough to set yourself apart" or "you need X, Y, or Z to stand out."  This is not a societal solution!  It's only a temporary potential solution to some people in certain situations.  Anyway, I do agree that there are too many "children" in college.

PKennedy
PKennedy

@JasmineLindros This is true; however, all those people over 40 years old, if and when put back on the job market, will be passed over for jobs just for being "too old." Of course we learned better work (and educational) ethics "back in the day." However, no one would want to hire you if you were over 40 and your college degrees were back in the 80's or 90's.

Eben10
Eben10

@JasmineLindrosThere are two problems here - the economics of marginal productivity and the psychology of employee motivation - and I hope you find my rant more helpful than condescending, as, we need to put some of your narrative into the perspective of your employees. At any pace, the economics of the firm influences how the employee feels psychologically about their worth or contribution. Depending on the number of employees, the mix of capital and work space, the psychological needs of an employee can be neglected or promoted. The first problem is due to economic efficiencies allowing no room for people make mistakes. As the markets become increasingly more competitive, and hence, there is less room for error, the expectations go up. For example, NASA made mistakes, some of them were tragedies, but when the engineers got it right they were celebrated for their work. Now, economics has pushed the long-term returns from an organisation like NASA out of favor for the more short-term investor wins scenarios. This means human pursuits have to be evermore profitable at the margins to eke a buck. The Gen-Xers you describe as non-workers are simply stifled by the economic reality of our times - half dazed (the second element being psychology) and half doomed by the Marginal Productivity of Labour cost curve (economics again) of the firm. Any additional worker hire after this person then has to prove constant results in a firm faced with diminishing returns to labour - so on paper, they have to reach the same targets to be acceptable, or greater to be a gun also and, do so in a firm with strained space and resources. Imagine if you were the third wheel in a firm where the Marginal Productivity of Labour < Marginal returns (revenue) from one additional unit of Labour.

Case study 1

Your 24K gold nugget sounds like the outlier, a self-fulfilling narrative that could do no wrong. When two managers for up the hierarchy confirm a gung-ho initiates brilliance, then the wunderkind's work-ethic gets a double dose of confidence and they continue to improve. How does the excess carried by co-workers create instances where the wunderkind can comparatively 'ride' the storm; what I mean by this is that individually, there is not room in the economic margins for everyone to stuff up, but occasionally the workplace harmonises well enough to set that new comer on a pedestal.

Case study 2

Maybe the secretary was floundering because she was a lazy gen-Xer, which would make her age > 33 but < 50. Perhaps her performance was due to increasingly high expectations. Perhaps she felt that her contribution was meaningless because her manager always does a better job anyway. Firms face MPL constraints and the moment that a firm reaches this point without expanding its capital and workspace then the additional worker naturally adds less in terms of productivity than the former.

What can be done?

You might like to look at the literature on making your firm more agile i.e. flexible, adaptive and abreast of the market. Create a sense of purpose in your employees by having a 'must be there' atmosphere in the office at 7.40. If your employees miss the briefing then they will isolate themselves and the great workers will be able to evidence their performance - not through narratives built by anecdotes from fond managers - but by daily evidence and salient know how. Using the briefing also helps employees to create their own narratives and test run ideas i.e. it helps them to stuff-up, making mistakes, making liable the individuals and teams rather than the company bottom line. Get your Gen-Xers talking work before work to set the standard for the rest of the day.


Ask your team genuine questions:

So, how does using twitter help us reach our professional goals? Discuss with your colleagues. We know that Twitter does not help as it is not a professional network and any reasonable group of Gen-Xers and Gen Ys for that matter will get serious and reach the same conclusion. People are reasonable after all.


I hope this helps.



 

PKennedy
PKennedy

@littlejohn25 Grammatical errors aside, the problem could be your majors. The Bio, Biochem, and Biotech fields seem to demand no less than a PhD with a perfect GPA and full-time work references (not professors) and that's for the entry-level, petri-dish-washing job. A Bachelor's in Biology is almost less than useless. It's little better than a Liberal Art or a Humanity.

swg333tx
swg333tx

@littlejohn25 Your last sentence may sum up the weaknesses that show up in your job interviews.

SheraHarvey
SheraHarvey

@kepha32I have also thought of lying on my resume and leaving out my degree. Since I can't find work as an RN. I would be willing to work in any job, before I become homeless, but I can't even get an interview in retail.

PKennedy
PKennedy

@MikeLand All I can say is that most employers and hiring managers must have had experiences like that with what you're terming "affirmative action hires" because they come across as looking at ALL minorities with the assumption that we are ALL likely to act like that. Therefore, any of us out here who bear any resemblance whatsoever to what you may have had a bad experience with as an "affirmative action hire" suffer the consequences of prejudice and automatic assumptions. I notice that this person had to screw up big-time before getting sacked; but you will look at the next one of whatever this person was, with the assumption that they, too, "must be" going to screw up and won't even give them a chance (be they female, blonde, redheaded, short, disabled, deaf, Hispanic, Black, Native American, whatever).

swampwiz
swampwiz

@MikeLand I had friends in college that would sell plasma for beer money.

tiredtoday
tiredtoday

@MikeLand Those last 2 sentences really explain a lot.  If you're an adult, your mommy should not need to communicate with your employer for you. 

swg333tx
swg333tx

@ajene16 Sounds like the common denominator is you - you can't seem to grasp what the employers are looking for.  As for me, when I hire, I look for the young person who is interested in helping the company be successful in the future, not the one who spouts past accomplishments as a justification for being rewarded.  I'm sure your adversarial attitude comes shining through in your interviews.

PKennedy
PKennedy

@benj009 @DgvandeheyNo, some of us graduated from an Ivy with a degree in Bioengineering and couldn't even get an entry job as a Lab Tech washing petri dishes and had to practically BEG for a Call Center job a year and a half after graduating. Quit with the assumptions, people!

865_568
865_568

@benj009 @Dgvandehey

Way to generalize an entire age group of people, benj009.  Well, since we're going to play that game, why not play it right?  Let's talk about what the 30 and under age group today has done and what the 50 and older group has done.  Let's see.  We grew up in the 80s and 90s when, all around us, people with bachelor's degrees could land managerial jobs right out of college.  We were told that "if you play the game right, you get a cookie."  Well, guess what?  America's supply of cookies is running pretty low, unless, that is, you happen to be a huge corporation.  So, from childhood, we were fed B.S.

But the corporate institution that is college has never let on to that fact, has it?  And that's because colleges are run by fat, self-before-service Baby Boomer lawyers who are more than happy to deny opportunities to the younger generation if it means fattening their wallets.  I should know.  I've been feeding their wallets for almost 5 years.  But gee, I guess that's what I get for studying molecular biology and physics in the hope of one day contributing to medicine.

To make matters worse, when our generation came of age starting in the late 90s and early 2000s, we were told that a bachelors wasn't enough anymore.  Why?  Because somebody had flushed large chunks of the economy down the toilet.  Oh yah, then 9/11 happened, which is something the Boomers never had to face as young adults.  Our generation has fought in two wars.  I personally am a veteran of those wars.  But let's not make this personal.  We're generalizing here, right?  So, let's talk about all the draft dodgers in the 60s and 70s instead and how, to this day, the Vietnam Era veterans have been the most shafted veterans in American history.  

But there's more!  The Baby Boomers had the Greatest Generation as parents.  Those Americans survived the Great Depression and World War II and laid the bedrock foundation of modern America.  The WW2 generation DID ALL OF THE HEAVY LIFTING.  (And I don't care what anyone says, it was the WW2 generation that ultimately passed civil rights legislation, not their idealistic 20-something hippie idiot kids.)  So, these kids from the 60s and 70s, the ones who love to look down on Gen X and Y, are the real spoiled brats of American history.  They reaped all the benefits of their parents' hard work, never once acknowledging the easy path that was laid out for them, while continually saying "your generation is the problem" to their own children.  But, I mean, we're just generalizing here.

ItsMeSnapess
ItsMeSnapess

That was such a well educated response and absolutely true. I think there are many young college students out there that want to succeed and perform well but simply do not have the proper backing by corporations and companies. There are fears and insecurities of performing sub par and failing to be optimal.

ColeDenisen
ColeDenisen

@RipD  Please pardon the grammatical errors. There doesn't seem to be an "edit" function on this posting site. 

PKennedy
PKennedy

@swg333tx @ajene16I'm sorry, past accomplishments are all you have to show for anything. Who on this planet already knows what the future holds? You can't put future accomplishments on a resume or talk about them in an interview because they haven't happened yet. Sometimes the past is the only indication of what you CAN do.

kormanmatthew
kormanmatthew

@ajene16  But what if they have good interviews? What if they said all the right things?

I can't help but relate because me and this person sound like we have a similar history. Worked two extra jobs in school, had several internships, a good GPA, an extra minor, etc. I've had good interviews - good ones I was actually proud of. Studied the techniques, even took online classes just to help and see if I'm doing anything wrong. Maybe there's something I'm just missing, but it's hard to not to think something isn't fair when you're getting your soul crushed every other week from job rejections.