How professional are YOU on the job? Raise a hand if you have ever answered a cell phone call, responded to a text message, or even spent time surfing the net for your next online purchase or Facebook status while at work—be honest here. Hands raised—we have probably all done this at one time or another, but is that level of professionalism what we’d want our bosses to see? ? Probably not. Still, according to a study done by researches at the Center for Professional Excellence (CPE) at York College of Pennsylvania, students and young employees continually fail to make the cut professionally. Nearly 38.2 percent of respondents said that less than half of new graduates exhibited professionalism in the workplace—a percentage practically unchanged in comparison with the results of the same survey in 2009. Of the traits that students fail to display in the workplace, internet etiquette, accepting personal responsibility and being open to constructivecriticism are among the highest ranked traits missing from recent graduates. “New employees are lacking the professional qualities that are deemed to be important. The largest gap exists for accepting personal responsibility and for decisions and actions and being open to criticism.”Interestingly, students also perceive this gap between importance and prevalence when rating the same qualities. However, they tend to feel they demonstrate more professionalism than employers actually experience,” says David Polk, whose company was commissioned by the CPE to complete the survey.
The CPE survey also finds that, again much like last year, new employees are continually more concerned with the opportunity for advancement than they should be—meaning that new workers want to touch the stars before climbing the mountain, so to speak. Nearly half of those surveyed stated that the “sense of entitlement” in young employees is to blame for instant gratification and the decline in professional ism in the workplace. Some respondents even stated that students and young employees want mid-career treatment in their entry level positions; worse yet others said that the newer job seekers lack a quality work ethic.
“Some of these problems in the workplace are the same things we are seeing in the classroom,” said Polk. “Students and employees alike are text messaging, surfing the Internet, and responding to cell phone calls at inappropriate times. It appears that for many the need to be in constant contact with friends and family has become an addiction. The addicted no longer see it as rude to be obsessively responding to calls or text messages.”
So does this mean all hope is lost for our young job seekers? Not at all. In response to last years survey results, York College in Pennsylvania created a series of seminars and educational classes for students and recent graduates, teaching the art of professionalism in the workplace. The results were outstanding, student respondents voted three to one that such programs offered by colleges were extremely valuable tools.
Now that you’ve got the facts, those of us with our hands raised, know we’re not alone, but clearly it’s time for change. And if you’re reading this wondering if your college campus offers such valuable programs and classes—you’re in luck! The University of Wisconsin—Green Bay and Career Services offer a variety of workshops, seminars, webinars, and classes throughout the academic year! Keep an eye on our events page for more information, so you can blow your next employer out of the water with your outstanding professional skills!