Searching for a job as a college student seems straightforward: write a résumé and send it with a cover letter to the prospective employer via an online application or email. Many students apply to jobs for which they feel well qualified, but then go on to be denied an interview or even a response.
It’s frustrating to be denied a chance to demonstrate your qualifications and not know why you weren’t given a chance. Was something misspelled on your résumé? Was your cover letter too general? Nothing on those two pages of writing could convince the recruiter?
And that’s what seems so flawed about the job search process: you essentially have two pages to convince the recruiter that you are qualified for the job. Not only do you have to show your relevant “hard” skills—job experiences, extracurricular activities, relevant skills (i.e. programming, Microsoft Excel proficiency)—but you also have to give a sense of your “soft” skills. Can you read situations well? How do you react under pressure? Are you a quick, analytical thinker? Can you think rationally when you have to make decisions impulsively? It’s certainly no easy task.
Having a service that can effectively evaluate your soft skills can certainly aid in the process. Strong GPAs and prestigious internships are great, but what matters most is how much you will be able to contribute to the company. Right now, the best way companies can initially evaluate applicants is simply by reading a résumé and cover letter: it’s efficient, and it gives the basic information about the candidate.
But this without a doubt cuts some deserving students out of the process. As a junior who has spent time at two universities and mingled with students interested in the same fields as me, I can say that I’ve seen plenty of friends who were denied a job in which they, in my opinion, would have succeeded. Typically, these cases are those in which one of them has solid grades combined with a great work ethic, agreeable personality, and genuine motivation and common sense. What they all lack is a relevant job experience.
Ah, yes, the job experience paradox. You want a certain job, but you aren’t seriously considered since you don’t have the right job experience, so you are never able to get that job that gives you the relevant experience. A frustrating paradox indeed.
But all hope is not lost. After speaking with professionals and professors, one thing seems clear: the ones who are going to be successful can be easily picked out. Not on paper, but in person. Traits like attention to detail, work ethic, and curiosity are easily visible in the person and tend to manifest themselves as innate qualities.
For a while, employers didn’t have much of an option: they receive thousands of résumés and have to pick only the ones that have qualifications that seem to indicate future success, such as a high GPA or a prestigious internship. With advances in people analytics, though, expect more windows to open. Not only will people know which sector they would succeed most in, but employers will also get to see if a particular person has the qualities they are looking for. Grades, job experiences, and leadership positions are all incredibly important. But having an extra layer that effectively evaluates an applicant’s soft skills will make life better for employers and employees alike.