Dear fresh college graduates, your work attitude matters more to employers

Let me start this post with a true story.

One of the biggest mistakes I have made in my working life was to approve the hiring of someone who came from one of the top 3 desired schools by employers and who graduated Cum Laude. One red flag during the interview which I noticed (but mistakenly ignored) was the fact that this person kept asking what the salary would be.  Rather than be mindful of possible implications of that kind of work attitude, I went ahead and recommended the person for hiring, thinking that grades reflected a higher level of intelligence that would compensate for a self-interest attitude.

WRONG!!! Not only was the person totally wrong for the job required but I found myself either re-doing or completing tasks assigned. What my instincts told me about a self-interest attitude became even more evident as time went on. I was actually relieved when the person eventually resigned.

What does that story have to do with you, my dear college graduates? There used to be a saying: “It’s one thing to GET a job; it’s another thing to be able to KEEP it“. But if I were to go by a recent survey, you probably won’t even get hired, in the first place, unless you bear the right kind of work attitude that employers are looking for.

A total of 550 companies that used to select interviewees submitted their responses to a survey. Read carefully what the survey reveals.

    • The Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) topped 2016’s surveyed companies’ preference for sourcing fresh graduates. This is a huge shift since last year, PUP only ranked 5th in preference, after UP Diliman, Ateneo, La Salle, and UST.

Preferred schools 2016

  •  According to the survey, employers find that PUP graduates possess the most traits they look for in applicants — hard-working and often going the extra mile in their job. They also do not tend to complain about tasks and do not give up on assignments given to them. They are eager to learn and have the drive to uplift their life – which, in turn, compels them to work harder.
  • Six out of 10 companies consider the school applicants have graduated from before hiring.
  • Even if school is important to employers, they place greater weight on the applicant’s behavior and the function they want filled in the company.
  • Eight out of 10 companies hire fresh graduates to fill vacant positions.

These survey results say a lot about the chances of a fresh graduate to get hired. Employers are looking for self-starters, those who do not need to be hand-held or require much training before being productive. They want employees who can think out of the box sometimes and come up with creative solutions. They want employees who will not balk at being asked to do something “lowly” or “clerical” which graduates with an entitlement attitude often shy away from. Employers are looking for potential employees who adopt an “whatever gets the job done” attitude.

It would be unfair to lump all millennials into a category that describes their generation but I have read several articles that describe millennials as “entitled” (here is one such article). Of course there are many exceptions to this. I know a lot of young people who are making a mark in the world. But I also know young people who graduate and actually expect that, because they come from a great school with impressive credentials, they should be placed in a junior executive position, trained extensively, and must not be made to do work that they feel is below them.

I remember my initial years at work. Despite having graduated with top honors, my first employer did not treat me any differently from the rest. And that was perfectly okay. Part of my so-called training included trips to client offices bearing heavy working papers or delivering their printed financial statements. I photocopied, proofread countless financial reports and did crazy things during financial audits (like being hoisted up a crane on a pallet to tap tanks at a chemical plant to make sure they were full, or doing an inventory of farm animals, including listing numbers on branded cattle as cowboys made them run through a narrow corral). And…I learned A LOT!!!

Dear graduates, as you step out from a protected school environment into the real world of work, you bring with you everything you learned in your years at university. But, at the same time, you are like a freshman in school, still new to the realities of real work. If you set out with the right mindset and attitude, you can be sure you will do well wherever you are placed.

Here are a few tips from someone who has been there and who now looks back with the wisdom of hindsight.

  • Be a sponge — soak up new experiences and knowledge with gusto. Good or not so good, every new bit of information and new experience will surely be a lesson.
  • Accept even the least glamorous work; it has a purpose – Children of taipans are made to work as ordinary employees at all levels by their parents. This comes from the belief that you will make a better manager and executive down the road when you know what it takes to get things done from all perspectives. I remember one summer when my son went to a cousin’s restaurant to help out. Guess where he was assigned – making sure the comfort rooms were always clean. Think about this: Would you want to dine in a restaurant if the comfort rooms were gross and dirty?
  • Work hard – Employers like employees with good work habits and perseverance. Not everything you will need to succeed in life comes bottled in a formal training program. In fact, most of your skills will come from actual, hands-on experiences and many times, from the most difficult ones. Don’t worry about failing; worry about failing to learn from them.
  • Embrace work requiring skills that you don’t have yet – If you don’t have the skills, learn them.  A person with multiple skills is more valuable to a company than one who is an expert in only one area. There may be times when you will be made to work on something totally off your university-acquired knowledge. Rather than whine about it, be open-minded. This is a chance to learn new skills — skills that you could use down the road in other situations.
  • Patience, patience, patience – No job will be perfect. There will be things you’ll like (and NOT LIKE) about your boss and officemates. Stick it out for some time to gain tenure and enough skills before you move to another job. Frequent job hopping does not look good on a resume.

Back to the report…..they also surveyed the top industries where fresh graduates go.

Here are the top 10 industries where fresh graduates end up

Here are the top 10 industries where fresh graduates end up also listed, from highest to lowest, the average salary of a newly hired graduate. IT-related jobs still rank highest at an average of PhP 22,567. Don’t worry if you do not have an IT-related degree. Usually, these are averages and are only snapshots of salary coming into a job. What you do when already in a job will determine how fast your career path improves and consequently, improves your salary.

Salary Report 2016

Good luck with your job hunting and remember again, it is one thing to GET a job; it is another to KEEP it.


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