Study Reveals Skills Disconnect Between Job Seekers, Companies

It's not just those out of work that are struggling to find the right opportunity in this job market, companies are also facing major challenges finding candidates with the right skills to fill their openings. According to a recent survey, only 14% of hiring managers report "nearly all" or "most" job candidates have the skills they are seeking.

DeVry University's Career Advisory Board recently released its "Job Preparedness Indicator Study," which found a disconnect between the qualifications hiring managers value in a candidate and the way in which job applicants describe their capabilities.

For example, only 14% of hiring managers said they found mostly what they were looking for in candidates, while 72% of job seekers are confident they know how to present their experience during an interview; 56% of candidates said they are confident they know what qualifications are required for employment.

The survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Career Advisory Board among 734 adult job seekers age 18 and up and 540 hiring managers age 18 and up at Fortune 1000-equivalent companies.

Career expert Alexandra Levit said the strongest message the survey sends is that hiring managers and job applicants are not on the same page.

"Training, or lack of training, is reflected in these results," Levit said. "They want job seekers to come pre packaged with these things. It's up to you to do it on your own. Most people don't have the time or money [to develop skills]."

The survey showed only 9% of hiring managers report they would be likely to hire a managerial candidate who lacked the necessary experience, but appeared eager to learn on the job.  With that said, only 30% of job seekers ranked prior experience as the top factor in leading to a desirable job.

For entry-level candidates, nearly 80% of hiring managers said they would be "extremely" or "very likely" to hire an inexperienced, but eager entry-level candidate.

Hiring managers place the highest value on strategic perspective, high integrity, global outlook, strong base work/work ethic and accountability, across all job levels, the survey found.

Levit said the skills gap starts in college, and that students are not being taught many of the attributes they will need later in life to land a job.

"Schools aren't necessarily prepping students for on-the-job skills, things like initiative taking, time management, being accountable and having a strong work ethic," are lacking she said. “These things need to be firmly entrenched while in school. They are teaching students more and doing better than 10 years ago, but there is still a long way to go."

This lack of proper training has only been perpetuated by the recession, she continued. Often, when a company is struggling its training budget is the first thing to be cut, which is a negative for workers and employers alike.

“[Employers] forget that if you invest in workers they will stick around. It’s a sad trend."