A Note to New Grads (Part One)

Ahh, to be a rookie again.

One of the first questions I asked 700 women in the research for my next book was, “In your current or most recent position, do you work with or hire college grads?” The question didn’t ask respondents to distinguish between male and female grads, which is important to note, because – frankly – the results weren’t all that great. Here’s what they said:

While 68% of respondents work with or hire new grads, only 26% felt those grads were prepared for the realities and demands of the workforce.


Roughly three quarters of the 700+ executives who took the survey don’t believe the new class is cutting it. Moreover, this was obviously a question that struck a chord because more than half of survey participants left a comment on it. I’ll start with the positives.

There’s no doubt employers understand new grads are incredibly tech-savvy, have a spectacular ability to multi-task, and bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm to their jobs.

But here’s where it got dicey.

Out of the 328 comments on this question, 104 respondents specifically mentioned they believed new grads felt “entitled” to (as-yet) undeserved rewards and otherwise demonstrated a low work ethic.

Okay, so it’s already extraordinary that – on this survey at least – almost three-quarters of women executives don’t believe new hires are well-prepared for the workforce, but it’s doubly shocking that a full one-third of the folks who left comments listed work ethic as the primary cause.

So…this is the part where you (and I mean everyone – not just new grads) need to get honest about whether you are putting in the time and displaying the commitment required to counter feedback like this and really succeed in your field.

Let’s slice this up a little bit more.

When survey respondents were asked “Of the choices below, which skill do you feel is MOST lacking in new grad hires….” here’s what they said:

Communication skills – 30%

Critical thinking and problem solving – 27%

Taking initiative – 25%

Follow-through – 18%

In Part Two of this post, we’ll dive in to the top two, i.e. communication skills and problem solving. Stay tuned!


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