5 skills employers are seeking but Millennials are lacking (through the eyes of a Millennial)

by Evie Somogyi, marketing intern and senior marketing student, Mike Cottrell College of Business

In the fall of 2016, the Mike Cottrell College of Business had the opportunity to invite business professionals to a Management and Marketing Department Advisory Council meeting.

During their discussion, they explained what employers expect from college graduates entering the workforce. The business professionals compared their expectations with the reality of what millennials have to offer.

As a millennial, I was surprised by some of their responses, and I knew that I had to share their insights with fellow millennials.

So, what are employers really looking for in a potential hire?

  1. Communication skills.

In the business world, the ability to communicate without technology is key. However, in a world of texts, emojis, emails and video conferences, face-to-face communication skills are dwindling. The visiting business professionals mentioned that soft skills, in general, are lacking in our generation. One of the business leaders mentioned that they “look for soft skills during the interview.” In reality, employers expect potential hires to already possess soft skills. They can take anyone with the proper soft skills and teach them technical skills.

  1. Public speaking.

Public speaking is a skill that a lot of people struggle with — including myself. The Washington Post mentioned in an article that, “Overall, fear of public speaking is America’s biggest phobia.” The ability to articulate an idea or plan is essential in business. This means that we have to be able to converse, present, and negotiate with confidence. The Mike Cottrell College of Business offers several courses to enhance our communication skills as well as the newly formed PROS program. I personally used my elective hours to take courses to help hone my soft skills.

  1. Be present.

When first starting a job, it is important to learn the culture of the company and adapt to that culture. While we (millennials) prefer to work from home — in our PJs — employers expect to see us in the office. It is impossible to figure out the culture of a company if we are never present to experience it. What better way to connect and contribute than to be present?

  1. Ability to work in a team.

Those dreaded team projects that we did in college are going to come in handy at the office. While millennials prefer their accomplishments to be individual, it is important to be able to collaborate when needed. In the real world, one person cannot do everything. Through the help of teams, people can specialize and get more done.

  1. Critical thinking skills

In a business environment, a lot of problems can arise. It is up to employees to figure out how to deal with these situations accordingly. The visiting business professionals agreed that “problem solving is important in a fairly complex world.” It is vital for employees to be able to “see an issue and adapt quickly.” They brought up the fact that entrepreneurs are natural problem solvers. When asked to rank the importance of different courses, they ranked entrepreneurship classes as one of the most beneficial courses in obtaining critical thinking skills.

While millennials have gained a reputation that will be hard to shake, it is up to us change our future employer’s minds. Through the help of our education, and professional development, I believe that we will be ready to surprise them.


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