Career Readiness: What is it really?

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 09:36 -- Emily Johnson

In many discussions of readiness, the focus is often on college readiness. However, the CRAfT team believes that career readiness is just as critical. We have been intentional about including career readiness in our plans, resources, and publicity because 1. Nearly every student will enter the workforce at some time in their life and 2. The skills students need to succeed in career are the same as those needed to succeed in college.

I’m sure you’re wondering: Are these skills really the same? Yes, but don’t take our word for it; let’s look at what business leaders are saying:

Forbes: Personality traits employers hire most

According to Forbes, 88% of employers value ‘fit’ over specific skills, meaning they are looking to hire individuals with traits that are valuable to a productive and cohesive team (Casserly, 2012, p. 1). Three of the traits employers value most are confidence, self-monitoring, and intellectual curiosity (Casserly, 2012). Those of you familiar with Texas’s College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) will note that these three skills are included among cross-disciplinary skills necessary for success in college and career. The College Readiness Assignments (CRAs) contained on this website were designed specifically to develop and assess these skills.

Fox Business: 10 skills every employer wants

Fox Business identified the 10 skills every employer wants in their employees as:

  • Commitment
  • Going the Extra Mile
  • Wearing Multiple Hats
  • Positive Attitude
  • Making Decisions
  • Passion
  • Organization
  • Dependability
  • Communication
  • Conscientiousness (Brooks, 2013, p. 1)

Notice that none of these skills reference specific software, hardware, or content knowledge. Employers know that they will need to train employees on the use of job-specific tools, but they can’t teach employees to have a positive attitude or to be organized. These are the kinds of skills they want new hires to come prepared with, and these are the skills that will translate well into any job.

Google: How to get a job at Google – 5 things they look for

Recently, Google demystified their hiring process by explaining the 5 things they look for in potential employees:

  • Learning ability (processing new information)
  • Leadership
  • Humility
  • Ownership
  • Expertise

Notice that expertise is last on this list, and that the other four items are general/cross-disciplinary skills. Expanding on this, Laszlo Bock, Senior VP of people operations at Google, says, “If you take somebody who has high cognitive ability, is innately curious, willing to learn and has emergent leadership skills, and you hire them as an H.R. person or finance person, and they have no content knowledge, and you compare them with someone who’s been doing just one thing and is a world expert . . . Most of the time the nonexpert will come up with the same answer. . . . Sure, once in a while they will mess it up . . . but once in a while they’ll also come up with an answer that is totally new. And there is huge value in that [emphasis added]” (Friedman, 2014, p. 1).

UPenn Wharton: Why good people can’t get jobs

In an interview for Knowledge@Wharton, The University of Pennsylvania’s online business journal, Peter Cappelli (2012), a management expert, summarizes what the three previous examples have illustrated: “If you actually look at the data from employers themselves when they report problems they’re having with recruiting, they never talk about academic skills as being near the top of the list. In fact, their complaints have been consistent for the 30 years or so that I’ve been looking at this. And their complaints are . . . they’re not conscientious enough, their workplace attitudes are not diligent enough, they don’t want to work hard enough — those sorts of things” (p. 1).

 

As you can see, business and industry leaders across the country are saying the same thing: we can give you knowledge, but we need you to know how to analyze it, process it, and work effectively with others to put it into action. Success in career, just like college, hinges not on content mastery but on cross-disciplinary skills, on one’s ability to reason, think critically, draw conclusions, manage their time, and persevere, etc.

These are exactly the skills that CRAs are designed to develop and assess. Just like a job interview or performance review, CRA Scoring Guides ask students and instructors to evaluate and assess multiple skills, not just content, and not just one final product. For an example, look at the Scoring Sheet for the CRA “Analyzing Congressional Representation,” a Social Studies assignment. 

You will see that in addition to the Social Studies standards, key cognitive and foundational skills are explicitly assessed. By including these skills in the assessment of a student’s work, the student can see that the abilities to reason, problem solve, and make connections between varying sources are important skills for success in college and career.

Career readiness is summarized well in this quote by Google’s Bock:

“G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless. . . . We found that they don’t predict anything. . . . The world only cares about — and pays off on — what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it). And in an age when innovation is increasingly a group endeavor, it also cares about a lot of soft skills — leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn. This will be true no matter where you go to work.” (Friedman, 2014, p. 1)

Whether a student’s path takes them from high school to college to career or from high school directly to career, CRAs can help them develop the skills they need to be ready.

 

References

Brooks, C. (2013, March 14). 10 job skills every employer wants. Retrieved from http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2013/03/14/10-job-skills-every-employer-wants/

Capelli, P., & Knowledge@Wharton. (2012, June 20). Why good people can’t get jobs: Chasing after the ‘purple squirrel’. Retrieved from http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/why-good-people-cant-get-jobs-chasing-after-the-purple-squirrel/

Casserly, M. (2012, October 4). Top five personality traits employers hire most. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2012/10/04/top-five-personality-traits-employers-hire-most/

Friedman, T. L. (2014, February 23). How to get a job at Google. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/opinion/sunday/friedman-how-to-get-a-job-at-google.html?_r=0