What Employers Want–The Total Package

THE ENTIRE PACKAGE: What do employers want to see when they begin evaluating college candidates for employment? The entire package! Extracted from responses to the question, “What are the five most important skills or competencies that a candidate needs to possess in order to be considered for employment?” The “total package” that candidates should possess includes these skills:

The Total Package: Candidates need to be academically prepared in their discipline as it pertains to their employment-this is considered a given by employers. Plus,

  • Communications skills that demonstrate solid verbal, written and listening abilities. The capstone is presentation skills that include the ability to respond to questions and serious critique of the presentation material
  • Computer/technical aptitudes based on the level required for the position being filled. Computer ability is now perceived as a given core skill; right up there with reading, writing and mathematics. The ability levels (expectations) for computer knowledge and application continue to rise.
  • Leadership-the ability to take charge or relinquish control 9followership) according to the needs of the organization; closely aligned with possessing management abilities.
  • Teamwork-working cooperatively and collaboratively with different people while maintaining autonomous control over some assignments.
  • Interpersonal abilities that allow a person to relate to others, inspire others to participate, or mitigate conflict between co-workers.
  • Personal traits. The shape of the above competencies are molded by a combination of personal traits, specifically demonstrate initiative and motivation; flexible/adaptable to handle chance and ambiguity; hard-working (work ethic) and reliability; honesty and integrity; and ability to plan and organize multiple tasks. Emerging as a key personal trait is an individuals’ ability to provide “customer service”-anticipating customer needs and the demeanor to respond positively to customer concerns.

The Wrapping: Several skills or experiences bind the package and are essential to holding it together. Without these skills, a candidate may not be able to deliver the package.

  • Critical thinking/problem solving-the ability to identify problems and their solutions by integrating information form a variety of sources and effectively weigh alternatives.
  • Intelligence and common sense.
  • Willingness to learn quickly and continuously.
  • Work related experiences that provided an understanding of the workplace and served to apply classroom learning.

This list should be no surprise to anyone-these skills and competencies have been bantered about since the new economy began to emerge in the late 1980’s. Why this section needs our attention is the context in which many employers expressed their qualifications. Because the economy is moving so quickly, candidates must enter their position already demonstrating their command of these competencies. There is neither time nor the luxury of training a highly qualified academic candidate in these skills. Employers demand that the “total package” be delivered at graduation.

Written by Dr. Lee June, Kelley Bishop, and Dr. Phil Gardner
Michigan State University
“2002-2003 Recruiting Trends”

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