Hiring Managers Find New Grads' Attitudes Wanting

June 1, 2010 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – Human resource professional and business leaders in a recent poll apparently aren’t very keen on the professionalism shown by new college graduates applying for jobs.

A news release from York College of Pennsylvania said personal professionalism matters to hiring managers most when deciding whether to extend a job offer. Nearly 60% of the hiring decision for new college graduates is based on an assessment of the applicant’s professionalism, according to the poll of 520 human resources professionals and business leaders.

The survey found few applicants measure up. On a five-point scale where one was “very rare” and five was “very common,” none of the top five traits reached a mean rating of four.

York College researchers listed the specific traits that hiring managers classify under professionalism:

  • Personal interaction skills, including courtesy and respect.
  • The skills to communicate, and listen.
  • A great work ethic; being motivated and staying on task until the job is completed.
  • Professional appearance.
  • Self-confidence and awareness.

One trait that did get a “four” rating was a concern by applicants about opportunities for advancement.  That trait, however, is the least important to the respondents when they are considering a recent graduate for a position requiring professionalism.  

When asked if professionalism has increased, decreased or stayed the same among entry-level college graduates during the past five years, 53% indicated levels of professionalism are the same while 33% said professionalism has decreased.  Those who cited a decrease pointed to a young worker’s sense of entitlement for the job, changes in culture and values, and lack of work ethic among new workers.

Sixty-one percent reported the sense of entitlement among first-year college graduates has increased over the past five years.

The survey respondents were a nationwide random sample of human resources professionals as well as samples of regional and Pennsylvania HR pros and regional and state business leaders.  A total of 418 respondents were human resources executives.