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Summer Job Experience - Skills Still Critical Today

As the owner of an Executive Search Firm, we are retained to help organizations hire people – executives at the Director, Vice President and C-Suite level.  We work across industries and functions.  We work with employers of all sizes.  Our clients are demanding; the right hire can propel their business forward.  The wrong hire – a disaster waiting to happen.  Our clients hire us to find their next key leader. 

What Skills ARE Important?

Our clients have specific industry and experiential requirements.  Those are finite and, in all honesty, relatively easy to find.  The toughest skills to find – interpersonal skills, those that help a candidate interact with their leaders (Board of Directors, etc.), peers and employees.  We need people who ‘play well with others’ yet can lead on every possible level (project, functional and executive).  These are skills that are the foundation of a great career, learned early in a person’s job journey.  They are the skills entry-level professional employers need.  

Let’s look to what employers are looking for in their new college graduates  

The Association of American Colleges & Universities (see Association of American College & Universities) is an amazing source for finding what employers are seeking in their newly hired college graduates. This excerpt from an article, What Really Matters for Employment? by C. Edward Watson and Kathryne Drezek McConnell covers the essence of what employers are seeking:

  •  . . . . . . . the ability to effectively communicate orally was rated as the most desired skill by both groups. Hiring managers also reported that ethical judgment and decision-making, the ability to work in teams, and the ability to apply knowledge in real-world settings were very important skills they were seeking in recent college graduates. This is similar to the top-rated skills by business executives, who included critical thinking and analytical reasoning, as well as the ability to work independently, among their most highly sought attributes.   

Four President Searches

While we are working on multiple searches, we are in the midst of four President searches.  There is no overlap in industry - each has very specific industry experience and knowledge requirements.  The overlap is the ability to interact - with their Board, executive team and employees.  

Advice For Parents

Encourage your children to work - during high school and during the summer.  Camp jobs, often thought of by parents as an extension of being a camper, are amazing in terms of the interpersonal and problem-solving skills gained.  Imagine working with a cabin full of young children, interacting with other staff for programming, and working with the parents who want updates on their child.  

Advice For Employees

Keep looking for ways to test and further develop your problem-solving and interpersonal skills.  Your full-time job as well as your volunteer work will consistently test you and help you develop.  And keep learning - these skills can always be enhanced.