Lack of people skills biggest challenge in grad recruitment, research shows

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A lack of strong people skills among graduate candidates is a rising concern for UK recruiters, new research from global management consultancy Hay Group has found.

The majority of the survey’s respondents (90%) believe that fewer than half of graduate applicants in the UK have the sufficient people skills for the roles they are applying for, with 77 percent admitting that they have had to hire graduate staff who weren’t suitable due to a lack of choice.

Graduates, however, disagree with this assessment, with 70 percent believing that their career success will be determined solely by their ability to do their job and 51 percent saying that people skills potentially stand in the way of getting a job done. Overall 61 percent of graduates value technical skills over personal ones in the workplace.

David Smith, consultant at Hay Group, said:

“It’s not that today’s graduates lack potential. In fact, psychometric assessment specialist Talent Q analysed data of over 40,000 employees worldwide and found that graduates have as much potential as senior managers for self-awareness, self-control and teamwork, and more potential for empathy.

“This potential needs to be realised, however. It’s now down to organisations to recruit and develop graduates in the right way, so they appreciate the role these ‘softer’ skills play in their own development and the value they offer to the business.”

For the employers, this divide presents commercial challenges as well as those of development and progression. 93 percent of businesses believe that strong people skills impact the bottom line.

The average cost for on-boarding per graduate is between £500 and £1,000 yet 77 percent of employers are concerned for the future leadership of their organisation based on the people skills of their newer employees.

While 89 percent of those in charge of graduate recruitment claim that poor people skills hold back a graduate’s progression, almost half of graduates themselves expect to be promoted within their first six months of starting a job.

Smith added:

“Managing graduate expectations is essential: businesses must show graduates that, even if they’re not getting a promotion this time, their company is investing in them and they’re getting the training to progress further.

“It’s also about making the process as seamless for the employee and business as possible. Today there are tools such as smartphone applications and personality self-assessments to help organisations engage and develop graduates, to assist them with their own progression and job satisfaction, and to enable them to meet and exceed business leaders’ expectations.”

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