Over half of employers will also offer signing bonuses to lure talent, up nearly four percent over 2014. And business majors will be among the biggest beneficiaries, with majors in business ($3,958), accounting ($3,682), and finance ($2,918) projected to rack up the biggest bonuses. At the graduate level, MBAs can expect average projected bonuses of $20,250.
EMPLOYERS PRIZE LEADERSHIP AND TEAMWORK
Alas, companies yearn for more than just ‘book knowledge.’ When it comes to reviewing resumes and holding interviews, respondents were also looking for intangibles. This year, leadership and teamwork tied for No. 1 at 77.8% among the attributes that employers sought most. However, when respondents were asked which skill would differentiate two equally qualified candidates, they chose leadership as a tie-breaker, reinforcing the importance of extracurricular activities. Still, teamwork did rise by nearly seven points over last year’s survey, underscoring just how interconnected and team-based companies have become.
Written communication skills rounded out the top three prized attributes at 73.4%, down four points from the 2014 survey. Other coveted assets included problem-solving skills (70.9%); strong work ethic (70.4%); analytical and quantitative skills (68.0%); technical skills (67.5%); verbal communication skills (67.0%); and taking initiative (66.5%).
When attributes are weighed on a five-point scale – with 5 being “extremely important” and 1 being “not at all important” – a slightly different picture emerges. Here, teamwork ties with problem-solving and decision-making skills at 4.61, a hair ahead of verbal communication (4.6), planning and organizational skills (4.59), and obtaining and processing information (4.57). Surprisingly, the ability to sell and persuade ranked rather low (3.56) among employers.
As part of the survey, employers also graded recent graduates on their attributes. Graduates earned an A- grade in the areas of problem-solving and initiative and a B+ grade in verbal communication and leadership. However, they dropped from an A- to a B in teamwork. They also scored a B- in written skills.
GRADES MATTER TO MOST COMPANIES
Think companies are just looking for cheap labor, and grade points don’t matter? Think again: 68.1% of respondents screen candidates by grade point average, which is actually down from a 2013 high of 78.3 percent. Nearly 65 percent of respondents cited a 3.0 GPA as their cutoff point.
A quarter of respondents also shared that they planned to recruit graduates for overseas positions. Another third planned to hire international graduates, particularly in the computer and electronics and wholesale trade industries.
In addition, the industries projected to hire the largest numbers of graduates next year include accounting services (8,055), computer and electronics manufacturing (3,737), finance, insurance and real estate (3,298), and chemicals and pharmaceuticals (2,213). Wholesale trade companies project the largest hiring increase (66.8%), followed by retail (44.6%), utilities (36%), and manufacturing (22.7%). Conversely, industries cutting back on hiring include: information (-35.1%), engineering services (-5%), and chemicals and pharmaceuticals (-2.1%). Regionally, hiring is expected to increase in the Northeast (18.1%) and the Midwest (11.5%) and decline in the Southeast (-2.3%) and the West (-5.8%).
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