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Herman Trend Alert: What Some Recruiters Look For

As futurists, we are often asked by concerned parents what advice they should give to their children. What courses to take? Where will the jobs be in the future? Because of the speed of evolution of occupations and technology, we recommend that young people study liberal arts to gain a good grounding in a wide range of areas. Students learn how to research and explore, solve problems and make decisions, challenge and collaborate—vital skills in today’s workplace. We’ve seen another trend emerging recently.

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Herman Trend Alerts are written by Joyce Gioia, a strategic business futurist, Certified Management Consultant, author, and professional speaker. Archived editions are posted at http://www.hermangroup.com/archive.html

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From “Herman Trend Alert,” by Roger Herman and Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurists. Posted: Dec. 30, 2003, 9:00 a.m., EST

GREENSBORO, NC — As futurists, we are often asked by concerned parents what advice they should give to their children. What courses to take? Where will the jobs be in the future?

Because of the speed of evolution of occupations and technology, we recommend that young people study liberal arts to gain a good grounding in a wide range of areas. Students learn how to research and explore, solve problems and make decisions, challenge and collaborate—vital skills in today’s workplace.

We’ve seen another trend emerging recently. For years, corporate recruiters have sought college seniors who are well-rounded, have participated in a variety of activities, and still maintained a decent (at least a C) grade point average. Participation in these other activities demonstrates the ability to multi-task, to be versatile and adaptable, yet still maintain the focus necessary to succeed academically — a least to a modest degree.

But here’s a news flash: Participation in extra curricular activities is now taking a back seat to the number of years to college graduation. Did the student play around, take light loads, use college more as a playground than a learning opportunity? Or did the individual focus on the tasks at hand, concentrate, and graduate in four years…or less? Recruiters are looking at the time and energy focused on completing degree requirements — evidence of seriousness of purpose and dedication.

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Preference is given to students who worked to help pay for tuition, books, room, and board. Were the students committed? Have they learned how to apply themselves seriously in earning their own way?

Of course, there are extenuating circumstances, such as the student who supported him/herself through school or the student who changed majors because the individual was passionate about the field. But in general, recruiters are looking for graduates who were in college for four years or less, participated in extra-curricular activities, and worked at least part time.

Why are these issues becoming more important to corporate recruiters? Employers see a high positive correlation between these attributes and on-the-job success, promotability and retention. Expect more employers looking for predictors of success on the job to follow suit.

Copyright 2003 by The Herman Group–reproduction for publication is encouraged, with the following attribution: From “Herman Trend Alert,” by Roger Herman and Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurists. (800) 227-3566 or www.hermangroup.com.

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