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Young people misinformed about skills required to progress

What young people think they should be doing to grow their careers is at odds with employer expectations

According to a study of 445 global Bachelor-level students and 80 global HR managers by CEMS and its corporate partner Universum, more than half (53%) of students believe that developing technical experience will aid their career. But less than four in 10 (36%) HR managers considered this to be important.

More than a third (35%) of the students surveyed stated that doing more than what is asked in the job description is the best way to get ahead, whereas this was cited by only a fifth (20%) of HR managers.

HR managers said young professionals can best develop their careers by working outside their comfort zone (61%), gaining broad experience (59%), and networking (56%). HR also placed greater emphasis on taking international assignments as a career driver (36%), whereas only a quarter (25%) of students thought this was important.

Neither students nor employers thought that working long hours would aid career growth, with only 5% and 4% respectively considering this to be something young professionals should be doing.

Roland Siegers, executive director of CEMS, highlighted the disconnect between what employers and potential candidates think boosts career progression.

“Although technical skills still have relevance, global recruiters believe that it is most important for young professionals to develop a diverse skillset, gain broad experience, and develop resilience by working outside their comfort zone. Importantly, they also believe international assignments are key in helping young people get ahead in the workplace."