Each year the WBL Program does some sort of recruiting to keep the numbers in the program at a successful level. This year combined with other reasons, we (meaning I) decided to poll local businesses in relations to job searching. One reason for this is that at the current time, it is becoming harder to find a job worth keeping. Another reason, was an attempt to really find what employers look for in a prospective employee. Also, among the many others, what can students do now to prepare themselves for life?
Approximately 30 of the local (Brigham City Area) businesses responded. The respondents range from multiple doctors offices to the hospital to fast food establishments to HR Departments in the local branch of our state government including DCFS and our school district. My point is that there is a very wide range of variety trying not to focus on one particular profession. Although the results seem tweaked to my program, they have not been altered in any way, shape or form. Here they are:
1. While in high school, how important are the following activities to make a student more employable?
There are three other things that employers listed that students should participate while in high school to make them more employable: (Each was listed once) Student Council, Have a clear attendance record, Participate in church and or community service
2. When looking at a prospective employee's resume` how long do you typically spend?
3. The Following “Attributes” are ranked in order of importance according to the survey.
2. Problem Solving
3. Reading Skills
4. Computer Skills
6. Math Skills
9. High School G.P.A.
10. Knowledge of Science and or other core subjects
-Some other things mentioned are Coachable, Honest, Positive Attitude, Common Sense
4. What do you feel is the most important class that a student could take in high school to make themselves more employable at your place of work?
5. Have you ever hired anyone that looked amazing on paper and then once they started working, they did not turn out to be a productive employee?
7. How do you feel the current job outlook is for students in school?
8. What is the number one thing that comes to mind, that a person can do to get an opening over the rest of the competition? For example, have a better degree, know the right person etc. etc. (Here are the top 10 responses….in my opinion, in no order)
- Honest, Experience, Education
- Have a positive attitude, no sense of entitlement, willingness to work
- Being teachable. Get to know the business you are trying to become employed with...which includes getting to know the personnel.
- Work ethic. Working hard and taking the initiative to do what needs to be done without being micro-managed. Taking pride in their work, regardless of what the job is.
- Learn how to carry oneself and how to sell yourself in person just not on paper. I'll hire real world skills all day over just box smart skills.
- I can teach an employee to do the job but I cannot teach them to be friendly and have a positive attitude.
- Be personable, persistent and persuasive
- Prepare yourself with the knowledge, skills and ability the job is looking for.
- Interview VERY well, and you will get the job. Confidence and honesty is key. Just make sure you can back it up in your actual work performance.
- A desire to do the work and put in the time to learn the way things are to be done.
9. The Following are ranked in order of importance on which is the best way to receive a pay increase.
1. Work Hard and Smart
2. Show Initiative
3. Be Friendly and Courteous
4. Be Punctual
5. Volunteer for extra assignments when the occasion rises
6. Continuing Education
10. When asked what is the biggest challenge our students have to get over when entering the workplace:
· Lack of Work Ethic was by far number one, here are some comments from employers : “Most high school kids think that they don't have to work hard, they think they just have to be at work to get paid” “Most high school kids Don’t have to pay for everything so they don't care if they show up, get a raise, want to improve etc.” “Get off the Video Games and learn to mow the lawn etc.”
· Lack of Skill Was next on the list
· Lack of Knowledge came in third
· Lack of Opportunity was believed overall, not really to be a problem
In looking over the results: The program has come to some conclusions. First of all, looking at question 1: There are two things from the list that got noticed as the Most Valuable Thing you can do in high school. Now I realize I did not include everything a student can participate in however, Taking College Classes received a vote of 9% Most Valuable and Doing an internship received a vote of 25% most valuable. Furthering that thought, doing an internship, was looked at by 75% of the group as with "Very Valuable" or "The Most Valuable".
Moving on to question 2: 29% of the group looks at a resume` longer than two minutes. That means, our students, 71% of the time, have less than two minutes for their resume` to mean something. In talking with employers about the current economic state, there are plenty of resume's that they have to look at with each opening so Resume` building is rather important. However, if you look at question 5, 96% of the employers have hired someone that looked good on paper and turned out to be a bad apple. To me, that is amazing.
Question 3's goal was not to devalue the worth of core subjects but to gain more light on how really important is G.P.A. In talking with a friend who is a principal, he never even asks a prospective teacher's past G.P.A. but rather he wants to know how well can this person impact students for good. Can they relate their topic to their students in a way that truly prepares them for life. I think like this principal, other employers want workers that fit well in a team and have the "soft skills" and intangibles that are going to get the job done. In talking with a lady at DCFS, she related a story to me about interviewing a fellow and she asked him what a good manager to him was. His was reply was someone who will just give him his assignment and leave him alone. He doesn't want any help unless he asks for it. Well according to the results, nobody would hire someone that does not want to work in a team. She didn't hire him either.
Now question 4 would really seem as though I am tooting my own horn, however, it is not the case. I found it interesting that even with some medical personnel taking the survey, not one would put human biology as the most important class. Math was second highest and the internship dominated. Here is my thinking why: In the summer I had the opportunity to ask the HR director for all of the IHC hospitals around the Salt Lake area. My question was what is your type of nurse? Her answer was someone with plenty of CNA experience and just "gets it" I said just gets it like gets really good grades in anatomy and physiology? Her answer was no. She wanted someone who could come in, understand how that department works and fit well with the team that was there. I was under the impression and still am that a student can know every single joint, ligament, or bone in the human body and can be a crappy nurse and or doctor. And so it can go with any other profession. If you just don't "get it" you are not going to get the job. If you are lucky and do get the job, hopefully you are not in that 96% that was hired and the HR wishes you weren't.
Question 6 merely re-iterates my point that super high grades is not always the best thing in the world.
I will close with question 10. I was surprised to see the overwhelming majority think that students in this day and age have a low work ethic. And that most thought there was plenty of opportunity out there to be successful but rather it was a lack of effort. Do you feel this is really the case?