Why Businesses Are Reluctant to Hire New College Grads

New college grad? Finding that job search a little challenging? You aren’t alone. Check out this column by Jeffery Selingo. Jeff is editor at large at The Chronicle of Higher Education and author of College (Un)Bound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students.

It’s college commencement season. Across the country, moms and dads, grandparents, and other family members are gathering on campus quads, football fields, and in basketball arenas to celebrate a rite of passage for the Class of 2013.

The graduates are now ready for the next stage of their life—a job (hopefully), their parents’ basement (maybe), graduate school, law school, or maybe the Peace Corps or Teach for America. They’re definitely older than when they went off to college. They’re probably heavier. And with a bit of luck, they’re more mature than when they left high school.

But did these graduates actually learn anything in college to deserve that diploma?
There’s much debate these days about the return on investment of a college education. Much of that conversation is focused on what students spend on college compared to what they get in return in terms of a salary. But if the purpose of college is to get an education, why don’t we measure the return on investment in terms of what students learn in college? After all, it’s the learning that we’re actually paying for when we write tuition checks, not training for a job that might be obsolete in two years.

Here’s the problem: we don’t know for sure how much students learn in college. As much as we spend on college, no bottom-line evaluation method exists for measuring what actually happens in the classroom and how that eventually translates into the value of the degree. Sure, there are the U.S. News & World Report rankings, but they mostly measure the students on their way in the door (how many students a college rejected, SAT scores) or how much colleges spend on faculty or students.

As much as colleges say they dislike the U.S. News rankings, they prefer them to any alternative that might try to rank colleges on how much students learn. Many colleges would like to keep prospective students and parents in the dark when it comes to how much value they end up adding to a student’s life.

There are now ways to measure learning, chief among them the Collegiate Learning Assessment. Known as the CLA, the essay-only test gives students a set of materials and asks them to synthesize evidence and write a persuasive argument. More than five hundred colleges use the exam to measure their curriculum and teaching, although few release the results, or even averages, publicly.

There are reasons they don’t want the public to know the truth. A few years ago, two researchers tracked a representative sample of 2,300 students at 24 colleges and universities who took the CLA three times in their college careers: at the beginning of their freshman year, at the end of their sophomore year, and finally, before graduation.
The study’s bottom line: 45 percent of students in the study made no gains in their writing, complex reasoning, or critical-thinking skills during their first two years of college. After four years, the news wasn’t much better: 36 percent failed to show any improvement.

The main reason for this, the researchers found, was a lack of rigor. Through surveys they learned that students spent about 12 hours a week studying on average, much of that time in groups. Most didn’t take courses that required them to read more than 40 pages a week or write more than 20 pages over the course of an entire semester.

Students who studied alone did better, as did students whose teachers had high expectations or assigned a significant amount of reading or writing. Those who majored in the humanities, social sciences, hard sciences, and math did the best. And the majors that did the worst? Education, social work, and the most popular major on US college campuses: business.

To determine how these students fared after college, the authors later resurveyed more than nine hundred of them after graduation. Not surprisingly, the students who scored the lowest on the CLA also struggled in life after college. They were three times more likely than those scoring at the top to be unemployed, twice as likely to be living at home with parents, more likely to have run up credit card bills, and less likely to read the news or discuss politics.

Now, many students graduating this month might think it’s fine that they skated through college. But for students and parents who paid the tuition bills thinking they were getting a rigorous and life-changing experience, they deserved better. So do potential employers who will hire this month’s graduates. We need more authoritative and accurate ways of measuring the value that a college adds to a student’s life than some arbitrary rankings system created by a magazine that doesn’t even publish anymore.

Become Successful By Understanding Peoples Personalities

Have you gotten annoyed at your colleague for being too loud or rambunctious? Or impatient at your employee for not getting to the point quick enough? How about thinking that your boss is a lunatic for wanting everything to be exactly the way he/she wants it (even if it makes no sense)?

I certainly get annoyed at my employees when they talk too slow, or when they don’t get a task done exactly the way I want it. And I’m sure I agitate them when I talk too fast, expect too much, and for being anal about the tiniest details 🙂

Understanding People
People are inherently and genetically different. When we truly understand the people around us, we will become successful entrepreneurs, dedicated employees & friendlier colleagues. It’s when we try to make people think like we think and act like we act, that we end up firing employees, quitting jobs (and probably getting divorced).

About a month ago I was lucky to hear inspirational speaker Allison Mooney talk to a room full of entrepreneurs at an EO event. She divided all human beings into 4 personality types:

The Playfuls
The Peacefuls
The Powerfuls
The Precises

The Playfuls

These folks are enthusiastic, funny and loud; They are extroverts who love talking; they speak before they think. They are best at networking, socializing & having fun. They are forgiving, unorganized and easily distracted. In business, they are the innovators, the idea-people & very creative. They tend to work fast (or not at all), so they can focus on doing what they enjoy most – having fun.

The Powerfuls

I put myself in this category. Us Powerfuls are assertive, decisive and productive; we are the do-ers, the human machine and the ones always taking control. We are the risk-takers who never give up on our goals. Powerfuls are internally strong and definitely need things done our way. We are all about working hard, getting to the point and accomplishing goals. For the Powerfuls, “now” is never soon enough. Our goals are never-ending.

The Precises

These people are meticulous. They think before they talk. They create structure, order and compliance. They are organized, neat, graceful and procedurally strong. They are perfectionists who hate making mistakes. Their shirts are ironed, their socks always match, and they love making lists. Without the Precise, our businesses would be chaotic and unorganized; our homes would be messy. They put work before play, and usually won’t stop until they get it done right. I see some elements of Precise in myself too, particularly in how I run my business.

The Peacefuls

These are the most calming of us all. Peacefuls are easy-going, diplomatic and patient. They hate conflict & do everything in their power to avoid confrontation. They are steady, comfortable in their own skin and grounded. They don’t have highs or lows, and are often-time hard to read. Happy, sad, angry, frustrated, excited – it all looks the same on them. You certainly won’t see them get as excited as the Playfuls or Powerfuls do. My business partner and husband Sim is a Peaceful. He is the epitome of calm and steady, and definitely brings balance to my life in the fast lane.

But how do we deal with people opposite of us? The reality is, we need all four personality types to run a successful business.

We need the creative people to come up with the ideas, and the critical thinkers to analyze, document & plan. We need the executors to make it happen, and the calm, rational folks to put things in perspective.

Give People What They Need

What do all four personalities need from us? Mooney describes it concisely:
The Playfuls need attention, affection & approval.
The Powerfuls need credit, loyalty and appreciation.
The Precises need space, quiet and sensitivity.
The Peacefuls need respect, value and harmony.

Treat Not How You Want To Be Treated

Do we actually treat people the way they need to be treated? Or do we treat people the way we feel they should be treated?
Just a couple of days ago, Sim and I were boarding a plane to New York. A guy (let’s call him Jack) in the row in front of us opened the overhead bin. He saw a jacket and small bag inside. He started repeating the F word over and over, until he finally turned to the older man (say, Bob) sitting in the aisle seat across from him and barked “for God’s sake, can you move your stuff into another bin so I can put my carry-on in here?” He kept rubbing his hands as if he was trying to clean off the germs.

Bob looked up at him and said in a super calm voice “Sure, of course. Would you like me to help you with your carry-on?” Jack grunted a “no thanks”. When Bob finished moving his stuff into another bin, he complimented Jack on his shirt and struck up a friendly conversation about what Jack did for a living. I turned to Sim and said “wow, this man is definitely very successful.” My instinct was, there is no way for someone to react so exceptionally well without years of practice in managing and dealing with people. Bob knew exactly what Jack needed, and he reacted with sensitivity & gentleness – which worked like a charm.

(We discovered a few hours into the flight that Bob was indeed a very successful Venture Capitalist).

When we understand people’s personality, we can give them what they need. This enables us to build trust, respect and long-lasting relationships…which ultimately converts into loyal clients. In fact, we can get along with just about anyone, when we know who they are & how they need to be treated.

Which of the 4 personality types are you? Are you a mix of 2 or 3 personality types? I’d love to know how you deal with the people with opposite personalities!