These days, most millennials spend a fortune for a good education. But after they have graduated, they go through tough times trying to enter the job market and get hired. As it turns out, hiring managers have different priorities and fancy degrees aren’t necessarily on the top of the list. According to a survey conducted by the staffing firm Express Employment Professionals, employers were asked to rank eight qualities they looked for in potential employees, and attributes such as professionalism and attitude were placed higher.
Image : Shutterstock
So here is a lowdown of the four things that hiring managers value and think are worth more than an expensive education:
A positive attitude
Irrespective of whether you graduated from a top university with flying colours or just managed to scrape through an average course, what will really set you apart from other candidates is a positive, proactive attitude. Hiring managers value employees who are driven to deliver results and infect others in the organisation with their enthusiasm and go-getter spirit. . The last thing they want in the workplace is energy-sapping office politics or an environment of unhealthy competition. A person with a good attitude will not just put his education to good use at work but he will also brighten up the workspace with his positive attitude. Recruitment group Reed surveyed 1000 business owners, to find that 96 per cent of them valued a good attitude over a perfect skill-set required for the job.
Hiring managers value integrity, but integrity is also the key to long-term, sustainable success. It means to be true to yourself and to be open and honest in relationships. It is also a sign of how much you respect others. Hiring managers value people who have no qualms in admitting that they have made mistakes and are ready to learn from them; they are wary of those who appear secretive or hide their weaknesses. Anna Maravelas, author of How To Reduce Workplace Conflict And Stress, talks about a design company’s CEO who employs a unique tactic to test for integrity. When the interview is going well and you are feeling comfortable, the CEO would throw you off with a question asking if you would lie a bit for the benefit of the company. “It takes a lot of integrity to say ‘no’,” says Maravelas. Stand up for your values, as honesty is seen as a desirable quality by hiring managers the world over.
Be it an internship, a part-time gig or a full-time job, hiring managers value applicants with some prior experience in an organisation. According to Iowa State Unversity’s Engineer Career Services, 90 per cent of the students of co-operative education (programmes that alternate semesters of work and study) got jobs immediately after graduation. Among those who never worked during college, only 50 percent were hired after they graduated. Only if students expose themselves to future work scenarios will they realise how to put their education to good use. A fast-paced work environment requires the freshly hired to demonstrate results from the word ‘go’, which is why hiring managers value applicants who are already familiar with a professional organisational set-up and have a fair idea of how to apply their skills on the job.
Every organisation has a culture. Fitting well into the work culture of the organisation is as important for you as an employee as it is for your employer. A study published in Personnel Psychology reported many positive effects that a good fit brings to the organisation. Employees who understood and valued the culture of their respective organisations, were found to have greater job satisfaction; they identified more with the company; they were more likely to remain with the organisation; were more committed and showed superior job performance. Therefore, it makes complete sense that hiring managers value a good fit over an applicant with a better education.
While hiring managers value the above qualities, it is important to emphasise that none of these studies are devaluing education in any way. Education continues to be important, but it is not the sole criterion that hiring managers look at while trying to fill a position. It is relatively easy to help employees develop the skills relevant for the job, but it is hard to ‘train’ anybody in developing personality traits like integrity, creativity and attitude. So, do not just bank on that fancy expensive degree, prepare yourself holistically when you step out to hunt for a job.