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Career Outlook

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What are employers saying about desirable qualities they seek in new hires?

The American Association of Colleagues and Universities (AAC&U) recently conducted a study to find out. Here is part of what they found:

  • Innovation is a priority for employers today. Nearly all employers surveyed (95 percent) say they give hiring preference to college graduates with skills that will enable them to contribute to innovation in the workplace. More than nine in ten agree that “innovation is essential” to their organization’s continued success.
  • Employers recognize capacities that cut across majors as critical to a candidate’s potential for career success, and they view these skills as more important than a student’s choice of undergraduate major. Nearly all those surveyed (93 percent) agree that “a candidate’s demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major.” More than nine in ten of those surveyed say it is important that those they hire demonstrate ethical judgment and integrity, intercultural skills, and the capacity for continued new learning.
  • Employers recognize the importance of liberal education and the liberal arts. The majority of employers agree that having both field-specific knowledge and skills and a broad range of skills and knowledge is most important for recent college graduates to achieve long-term career success. Few think that having field-specific knowledge and skills alone is what is most needed for individuals’ career success. 80 percent of employers agree that, regardless of their major, every college student should acquire broad knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences.

AAC&U "It Takes More Than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success" (April, 2013) Source: It Takes More than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success. 2013. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities and Hart Research Associates. http://www.aacu.org/liberaleducation/le-sp13/hartresearchassociates.cfm