It is a generally known fact that many college graduates are unemployed, or underemployed due to the down economy. However, it is becoming more and more evident that one completely controllable factor in recent graduates’ failure to obtain employment is a lack of professionalism. Generation Y is known for its rather laid back attitude. Unfortunately, this does not always translate well to the workplace.
Last year, in the third study of its nature, the Center of Professional Excellence produced the Professionalism in the Workplace Study to chronicle the opinion of managers and Human Resources representatives about young employees’, particularly recent graduates’, level of professionalism.
Ninety-six percent of HR representatives and 92 percent of managers surveyed said that professionalism has a large impact on an applicant’s likelihood of being hired; and, as the study indicates, on their chances of remaining employed. The study defines professionalism as “interpersonal skills, appearance, communication skills, time management, confidence, being ethical, having a work ethic, and being knowledgeable.”
Despite the high value of these characteristics, it was found that a large number of new employees have a sense of entitlement that seems to prevent them from being professional and focused on their work.
Half of HR representatives surveyed felt that young applicants have more frequently exhibited a sense of entitlement over the past five years; this percentage has actually decreased since the initial study was conducted in 2009, however authors attribute this phenomenon to a growing pool of applicants due to the down economy.
Twenty-one percent of managers said the number of unfocused employees has increased over the past few years, and the majority of these unfocused are the younger employees who have a tendency be distracted by social media, or general Internet surfing and personal communication such as texting.
As we near graduation, and soon to be grads go through the interview process for potential jobs, there are a few key elements of professionalism to remember. Almost more important than the “do’s” are the “don’ts.”
It seems self evident, but the worst interview faux pas are inappropriate attire, being late, lack of preparation, and poor verbal communication skills. If a young applicant makes it through the interview by avoiding the above mistakes, and is actually hired, there is also a list of problems employers see in new employees that often get them fired.
Things such as poor work ethic, poor time management, a sense of entitlement, and a poor attendance were cited by a third of employers as characteristics often displayed by new employees. These mistakes, especially poor attendance, were the top reasons for dismissal.
Though professional skills are integral in being hired for, and keeping a job, they are not taught in college, or in most workplaces. The study suggests practicing communication and interview skills as well as taking professionalism workshops, or doing internships as the best ways to develop professionalism.