Want to improve your chances of landing that first career in sales? Stop touting your GPA and focus instead on your attitude and communications skills, because personality seems to be the most important thing you have going.
That’s the bottom line from a recent survey of employers conducted by the research consultants at Millennial Branding and the career network Beyond.com. They conducted a national study of nearly 3,000 job seekers and human resources professionals.
More than 70 percent of hiring managers who responded to the study believe colleges are only “somewhat preparing” students for their careers, and they have major issues with how applicants present themselves. About one-third of respondents complained about applicants who are “unprepared” or who have a “bad attitude.”
Some other highlights from the employer responses:
Job boards work, but referrals are even better. Nearly half of HR pros say they use job boards to put together a candidate field. Seventeen percent say they find candidates through employee referrals. However, 71 percent said referral candidates get a high priority in the final hiring decision.
Personality is key. HR professionals say hiring managers most commonly seek people with a positive attitude (84 percent), communications skills (83 percent) and teamwork skills (74 percent).
Grades? Not so much. Since 73 percent of employers say college is only somewhat preparing students for the real world, it makes sense that they don’t value your grades as much as you thought. Just 2 percent say your GPA is most important when they recruit you. Sixty-four percent say they’d consider a candidate without a degree, and 65 percent say it doesn’t matter where you went to school.
Be prepared. Based on the survey, you can really stand out in an interview simply by being prepared. Employers describe 36 percent of interviewees as unprepared, and 33 percent as having a bad attitude. If you want to improve your chances, employers advise, brush up on the company, bring a portfolio of your work and prepare a case study showing the results of previous work you did, perhaps during an internship.
What matters most? A cultural fit. More than 43 percent of HR pros say “cultural fit” is the single most important thing to them. Next most important: relevant college coursework and internship experience.
The flip side of the survey, which focused on job seekers, also yielded some interesting findings to keep in mind as you launch your own career. Among them: online job boards are the most popular way to get work these days, and career fairs are career fails. Nearly a third of respondents report success through job boards, while only 2 percent say career fairs are effective. Nearly half of respondents are applying to jobs via LinkedIn.
As for what is most important to younger job seekers these days, the song remains the same. Money and meaning were each listed by 30 percent of respondents as the No. 1 factor in their search.
Only 10 percent care much about health care benefits, and 2 percent are motivated by generous 401K plans.