A new job skills survey shows that soon-to-be college grads applying for jobs have an inaccurate view of their qualifications compared to hiring managers’ expectations.

The 2016 Workforce-Skills Preparedness Report titled “Leveling Up: How to Win In the Skills Economy” details the disconnect between managers and recent graduates regarding their preparedness for employment after entering the workforce. The report also cites which skills managers are most likely to consider absent or deficient.

PayScale released the report in partnership with Future Workplace. The report gives graduates solid details about the skills most likely to result in a larger salary and a promotion. The report also highlights the skills grads would do best leaving off their resumes.

PayScale developed cloud software that crowdsources data and uses unique algorithms to provide a database of salary profiles. Future Workplace is an executive development firm dedicated to rethinking and re-imagining the workplace. Future Workplace works with heads of talent management, human resources, corporate learning, and diversity to prepare for the changes impacting recruitment, employee development and engagement.

This report should be high on any college student’s must-read list this summer. It contains first-hand information about which skills are most common by geographic region of the United States.

A key point the report makes revolves around widening the skills gap that exists among recent college graduates entering the workforce. This gap is the reality that separates the skills college grads need to succeed in the professional world from the skills they actually can demonstrate when they leave college.

“The data we have collected shows that even though their education may make recent college graduates feel prepared to enter the workforce, only half of hiring managers agree with them. Managers feel crucial skills in recent graduates are frequently lacking or absent,” said Katie Bardaro, Vice President of Data Analytics at PayScale.

Skills College Grads Lack

One of the most essential missing skills evident in today’s college graduates is a lack of critical thinking and problem solving. Some 60 percent of managers noted that this soft skill tops the list of weaknesses.

Two additional skill areas may suggest a need for higher education and for students to reconsider curriculum priorities. Some 44 percent of managers feel writing proficiency is a vital skill lacking the most among recent college graduates. Not far behind is public speaking. The report cites that 39 percent of managers want to see mastery of oral communication training.

Personal and public communication skills are important in nearly all job categories. More than half of all hiring managers pointed to a need for college graduates to demonstrate an ability to pay attention to detail. Slightly less than 50 percent of hiring managers said college grads need to show greater proficiency in communication, leadership, interpersonal skills and teamwork.

“Graduates need strong communication and problem-solving skills if they want to interview well and succeed in the workplace,” said Dan Schawbel, New York Times best-selling author and Research Director at Future Workplace.

Effective writing, speaking and critical thinking empowers college graduates to accomplish business goals and get ahead, he added. These communication factors are critical to everything else.

“No working day will be complete without writing an email or tackling a new challenge, so the sooner you develop these skills, the more employable you will become,” Schawbel said.


Bridging the Skills Gap

The Skills Gap is the distance between what college grads asses their achieved job skills to be and the skill level hiring managers see in their abilities. Student confidence does not count in their assessment.

The study revealed that only 50 percent of managers feel recent grads are prepared for a full-time job. However, 87 percent of grads feel they are ready to perform. The skills gap is accentuated when it comes to Millennials (born 1982–2002) working for Gen-Xers (born 1965–1981) and Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964).

Hiring agents feel strongly that recent grads are unprepared for full-time jobs. Only 47 percent of Gen-Xers and 48 percent of Baby Boomers who work as hiring agents see recent grads as well prepared, according to the Leveling Up Report.

For job applicants in the technology industry, another kind of communication skill is lacking – knowing the top requested coding languages. Many recent grads lack programming skills.

It is significant that the managers did not place their emphasis on the need to learn specific software programs or other tech skills. Those areas are subsets of performance skills that well-educated graduates can address as their new jobs require.

According to the report, the programming languages that grads need to qualify for the biggest pay bumps are as follows, including the percentage of hiring managers in agreement:

1. Scala – 22%
2. Cisco UCCE/IPCC – 21%
3. Go – 20%

Both Scala and Go are emerging skills that have come into demand over the past five years. STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) employees are also in demand and command higher salaries, the report reveals.

Best Skills to Show or Hide

The report noted that the best skills held by workers at the manager or supervisor level are training management, property management and event management. The most common skills workers at the director level are donor relations, software development, management and senior financial management.

The report offered some sage advise on the best skills to leave off your resume as well. These are skills hiring managers view as foundational skills. They are common to most workers.

In management occupations, foundational skills include filing, typing and online research. In computer and mathematical occupations, those basic skills are data entry, system repair and Dreamweaver. In business and financial operations occupations, the foundational skills are property management, paying invoices and phone support.