I Gotta Get a Job; Am I 'Professional' Enough?

Since the high number of unemployed Americans isn’t budging and jobs are limited, researchers are taking a fresh look at what matters most to those making the final hiring decisions.

Experts with the Center for Professional Excellence (CPE) at York College of Pennsylvania conducted a survey recently and discovered nearly 60 percent of the hiring decision is based on "personal professionalism." The survey also found that a lot of college grads are failing this test.

Business leaders are complaining that many recent college graduates have a hard time accepting personal responsibility for their decisions or acting independently, CPE says.

Managers also said “graduates do not seem to have a clear sense of direction or purpose in the office.”

One in every three supervisors who do the hiring say in the report that less than half of all new graduates exhibit professionalism in the workplace.

Top executives in America say college graduates and new young workers have a sense of entitlement for the job, show changes in their culture and values and lack of work ethic among new workers.

Entitlement is defined here as a worker expecting rewards without putting forth the effort to achieve them. Researchers say this is on the rise among first-year college graduates. Sixty-one percent reported the sense of entitlement among first year college graduates has increased over the past five years.

Experts say to fix this problem, colleges need to reach out and start helping students work on their attitude and demeanor before they graduate.

“Colleges need to do more to help students locate internships or gain hands-on experience, develop an understanding of professionalism, and work on communication and interpersonal skills,” the report says.

In a similar survey conducted by CPE, “appearance” and "communication skills" ranked high when business leaders were asked what they were looking for in a "professional."

"How an individual dresses for work can be a powerful extension of his personal brand," says Matthew Randall, executive director of the CPE.

"Clothes, accessories and even the footwear an employee chooses to wear help to reinforce or diminish his skills and qualities in the eyes of his employer, co-workers and clients.

Job experts say what you wear for a job interview, or even if you have a job, means everything when it comes to professionalism and impressions on other people.

“Getting noticed for a job or at work does not mean wearing tight pants, overdone makeup, short skirt or cleavage-revealing shirt,” Chris Hauri, founder of Mirror Image, a Chicago-based image and identity consultancy, told CPE.

"Nothing undermines how you are perceived in business as leaving nothing to the imagination."

For everyone in America looking for a job – or want to move ahead in the job you already have – there are seven jobs you need to learn, according to author Mark Sanborn.

"Don't panic," he says. “You won't have to work seven times longer or harder. These jobs can easily be integrated into your current work with minimal effort. If done correctly, they will greatly increase your value to your employer, customers and colleagues.”

These "seven jobs to learn" are listed by Sanborn, author of the new book, Up, Down or Sideways: How to Succeed When Times Are Good, Bad or in Between and published on the CareerBuilder.com website.

1. Experience Manager
Every interaction with another person creates an experience that leaves a memory of you and your work. How are you consciously designing these experiences to be positive? Enriching? Rewarding? Lasting?

2. Value Creator
All great employees (including CEOs, owners, board members, etc.) add value to the organization's offerings. Being a value creator is a form of job security. Value neutral employees are interchangeable or worse, replaceable.

3. Talent scout
Identify people within and outside your organization who would be a valuable addition to your team. Talent scouts have the ability to understand the talents and abilities that individuals possess and match them with organizational needs.

4. Ambassador
A person is known by the company he or she keeps, and an organization is known by the people it keeps. You represent your organization, as well as yourself, to customers and vendors. Learn the history of your organization well enough so that you can share it frankly and passionately with outsiders.

5. Amplifier
Increase the good that happens around you by noticing and noting it to others. Most people can spot what's wrong and complain about it. An amplifier knows the work around him well enough to spot what's right, praise the work, and praise the person or people responsible for it.

6. Router
Internet data is broken into chunks called "packets," and routers make sure those packets go where they are supposed to go. Similarly, a good communicator makes sure information gets to the right people in a timely manner.

7. Interpreter
Understand information and how it applies to the people and circumstances around you. Offer context. Offer insights. Provide the links that turn chaos and confusion into order.