As we’ve suggested in two earlier posts responding to one Bethel History major’s concern — “I want to be employable” — a liberal arts education not only forms well-rounded individuals, but highly skilled workers well-prepared for a rapidly changing economy and desirable to recruiters and employers in multiple sectors, even the corporate one.

A new survey of 225 employers lends further weight to these arguments. Of those employers surveyed, 30% said they were recruiting liberal arts majors — second only to those studying engineering and computer information systems, and far outpacing finance and accounting (18%).

Why is this? Dan Schawbel, founder of the consulting firm that commissioned the study, first pointed out that communication skills were both the most valued by employers and the hardest to find, but liberal arts majors “need to become good communicators in order to graduate with a liberal arts degree.” Second, he concluded that “Companies are looking for soft skills over hard skills now because hard skills can be learned, while soft skills need to be developed.” Jennifer Floren, CEO of the company that provided the data, echoed those sentiments in the press release reporting the results: “Of all the things employers look for when hiring entry-level talent, it’s the so-called ‘soft skills’ that are valued most:  communication, teamwork, flexibility and positive attitude are by far the most sought-after skills.  Employers understand that everything else can be taught, so they look for the most promising raw material to work with.”

Some of the results: (click here for more)

What skills are you looking for when you hire?

  1. Communication (98%)
  2. Positive attitude (97%)
  3. Adaptable to change (92%)
  4. Teamwork (92%)
  5. Goal-oriented (88%)

What skills are hardest to find, but most important to you?

  1. Communication (91%)
  2. Positive attitude (85%)
  3. Adaptable to change (85%)
  4. Teamwork (82%)
  5. Strategic thinking and analytics (78%)

What carries the most weight in the hiring process?

  1. Relevant courses (69%)
  2. Referral from previous boss or professor (65%)
  3. Internship experience (52%)
  4. On-campus leadership positions (50%)
  5. GPA (48%)

Where do you hire the most graduates from?

  1. Job boards (48%)
  2. Employee referrals (44%)
  3. Company website (42%)
  4. Online job boards (35%)
  5. Career fairs (27%)

(H/T John Fea)

<<Read the previous entry in this series

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