Information shows participation in activities may improve employability

Story and Graphic by DENISE SEYFER and LISA ROEHNER,

Employers scan hundreds, maybe thousands, of resumes looking for qualified candidates to fill their vacant job listings. However, some of these positions remain unfilled due to a lack of qualified candidates.

survey2Businesses respond

According to a survey disclosed in a 2012 news release by ManpowerGroup, “Based on the many conversations we have with employers every day, ManpowerGroup recognizes the ongoing challenge business leaders face when looking for the right talent,” said Jonas Prising, ManpowerGroup president of the Americas. “This skills mismatch has major ramifications on employment and business success in the U.S and around the globe. Wise corporate leaders…are developing workforce strategies and partnerships with local educational institutions to train their next generation of workers.”

Further, a Chegg study conducted online in the U.S. by Harris Interactive in August 2013 “revealed a gap between the skills hiring managers reported seeing in recent graduates and the skills the students perceive themselves as having mastered.” The study included responses from 2,001 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in two- or four-year public or private colleges and 1,000 hiring managers.

The report found 93 percent of hiring managers want to hire graduates who demonstrate the initiative to lead; 91 percent hope to hire applicants who have participated in extracurricular activities related to their field of study; and 82 percent want recent graduates to have completed a formal internship before graduating from college.

“When I see on a resume a candidate has a degree in marketing and looking for a job in marketing, I know they have the hard skills necessary to do the job,” said Aimee Sellon, a recruiter for Manpower in Milwaukee. “The biggest skills news grads are lacking are soft skills like communication and interviewing skills.”

Transferable skills or “soft skills” can stand out on the application of a new graduate.

Kristen Wright, a career counselor at Mount Mary’s Career Development Center, suggested becoming the treasurer of an organization if you are majoring in accounting.

Mount Mary offers its students many opportunities to enrich their learning and leadership experiences. By joining and participating in on-campus associations and societies, students could develop the transferable, “soft skills” employers crave.

On-campus student opportunities

Mount Mary offers its students nearly 30 student organizations and 14 different honor societies as well as two Catholic honor societies to enrich learning and leadership experiences. By joining and participating in on-campus associations and societies, students could develop transferable skills or soft skills that employers crave.

Soft skills is defined as “professionalism or work ethic, oral and written communication, teamwork and collaboration skills and critical thinking or problem-solving skills,” according to a report written by the Office of Disability Employment Policy on the website.

Arches, Mount Mary’s student newspaper conducted its own on-campus survey. We asked 78 students if they utilized on-campus organizations, whether those groups were social, athletic or academic, to acquire needed skills and experiences.skills

We found nearly 35 percent of students surveyed did not join any on-campus organizations or groups.

Reasons for the level of student participation differed from student-to-student. However, the highest percentage of reasons for lack of involvement on campus, showed 60 percent were involved in internships and work.

“Giving back to the community is important regardless of career choice. It can positively impact employment possibilities, especially if those volunteer opportunities relate to a career of choice,” Sellon said.

Some Mount Mary organizations with the highest student participation according to our study, were the Fashion Association and Mount Mary Athletics.

“There isn’t a specific sport or organization an employer [is] specifically looking for,” Wright said. “It’s the skills you gain from the extracurricular activity.”

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