Recruiters and Students Have Differing Perceptions of New Grad Proficiency in Competencies
April 1, 2022
Employers and college students agree on the most important competencies students need to develop to successfully enter the workforce, but are divided on the proficiency of new college graduates in these key areas, according to research conducted by NACE.
Given the gap in perceptions, college students who can demonstrate concrete evidence of their proficiency in key areas—for example, through internships and other types of experiences and activities—can stand out in the job market.
Employers responding to the Job Outlook 2022 survey deemed critical thinking, communication, and teamwork the most important competencies for students to be considered “career ready.” Students, responding to the 2021 Student Survey, identified the same three competencies as most important.
However, in terms of graduates’ level of proficiency in the competencies, employers and college students expressed very different opinions.
The employer perception doesn’t align with how college students perceive their own proficiency in the eight career readiness competencies. In nearly all of the competencies, college students believe they are more proficient—in some cases, by a significant margin—than do their potential employers. (See Figure 1.)
For example, nearly 80% of students rated themselves as very or extremely proficient in critical thinking; in comparison, just 56% of employers agreed with that assessment.
Interestingly, there was one competency where employers had a higher opinion of students’ proficiency than did the students: technology.
Source: Job Outlook 2022 (employer data) and 2021 Student Survey (student data), National Association of Colleges and Employers. The percentages indicating “proficiency” represent percent of respondents that provided a rating of 4 (very proficient) or 5 (extremely proficient) on a five-point scale.