Amp It Up!

Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2011, 4:12 pm
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Dawn Klingensmith, CTW Features

For the first time since 2007, employers report a double-digit increase in hiring projections for the class of 2011, according to a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. In a spring update to NACE’s Job Outlook 2011 Fall Preview, employers indicate they plan to hire 19.3 percent more graduates in 2010 and 2011 than they did in the preceding academic year.

But this sunnier outlook has not blinded employers to perceived shortcomings of young jobseekers, who have tended to fall short of traditional standards of professionalism. Jobseekers who take measures to counteract negative perceptions of their generation’s work habits will have the brightest prospects of all, says David Polk, a behavioral sciences professor at York College of Pennsylvania.

That recent grads bring to the workforce an outsized sense of entitlement – expecting rewards without putting in the effort – is the chief complaint against them, says Polk. His research on behalf of the college’s Center for Professional Excellence has shown for two years running that young folks’ professionalism is “less-than-desired.”

Two other “common and troubling” deficits are in accepting personal responsibility for decisions and actions and being open to criticism, Polk adds.

Too often, entitlement manifests right off the bat. When interviewing or starting a job, recent grads perhaps should avoid asking about opportunities for advancement, which employers interpret as, “How soon will I get promoted?”

Asking such questions is not the sign of a go-getter but rather of a short-cutter who is loath to pay dues, Polk says.

Promotions and raises are rewards for “consistent delivery of quality over time,” he explains.

Young workers should define success as what’s good for the organization and pleasing to their supervisors. The only way of knowing is to observe and ask, says Nancy M. Mellard, executive vice president and general counsel for the employee services division of CBIZ Inc., a national business services firm headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio.

“Ask about the corporate culture – what is valued there and what’s expected of you specifically,” she advises. “Don’t come in there thinking, ‘What’s in it for me?’ That’s not how you get ahead.”

It sounds counter intuitive, perhaps, but asking for help is part of accepting responsibility for a project, its outcome and the asker’s career, says Natalie Smith, a vice president with the Richmond, Va.-based public relations firm CRT/tanaka.

Though important, showing passion for their work can at times be challenging for employees. “You’re not automatically going to land in a job that you’re passionate about all the time,” Smith says.

That’s neither an entitlement nor a realistic expectation, she adds.

With each new project, it’s an employee’s responsibility to find something to be curious if not passionate about. “That curiosity factor is critical. If you dig around you can find something interesting so there’s not that disconnect,” Smith says, “and you’ll be more likely to want to do a good job.”

Poor communication skills and lack of ethics are other perceived weaknesses to address, Polk says. He recommends students engage in public speaking whenever an opportunity arises. And it can’t hurt to take an etiquette class, either, he adds.


Local events heading

  Today is Monday, Sept. 22, the 265th day of 2014. There are 100 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The board of education has granted Thursday as a holiday for the children, with the expectation that parents who desire to have their children attend the Scott County Fair will do so on that day and save irregularity the rest of the week.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The guard fence around the new cement walk at the Harper House has been removed. The blocks are diamond shape, alternating in black and white.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Rev. R.B. Williams, former pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rock Island, was named superintendent of the Rock Island District.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Abnormally high temperatures and lack of rainfall in Illinois during the past week have speeded maturing of corn and soybean crops.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Installation of a new television system in St. Anthony's Hospital, which includes a closed circuit channel as well as the three regular Quad-Cities channels, has been completed and now is in operation.
1989 -- 25 years ago: When the new Moline High School was built in 1958, along with it were plans to construct a football field in the bowl near 34th Street on the campus. Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 years later, the Moline Board of Education Athletic Board sent the ball rolling toward the possible construction of that field by asking superintendent Richard Hennigan to take to the board of education a proposal to hire a consultant.

(More History)