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Study: Millennials should sharpen soft skills to land a job

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A student at the University of Illinois at Springfield speaks to a recruiter at a campus job fair. (Source: Jeremy Wilburn/Flickr) A student at the University of Illinois at Springfield speaks to a recruiter at a campus job fair. (Source: Jeremy Wilburn/Flickr)

(RNN) - Although recent reports show that college graduates can look forward to a better job market this year, a new report has found traditional internships might not be enough to land a dream job.

A study released Monday by Millennial Branding showed that nearly all employers are looking for job candidates with at least one internship under their belts, however just 50 percent of them have actually hired any interns in the last six months.

"A degree doesn't equal a job anymore," said Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding, a research and management consulting firm focused on millennial youth. "Employers are not communicating their expectations."

Nearly 100 percent of employers - 91 percent - think students should have one or more internships before graduation. But few are willing to put in the time necessary to train an intern.

"Employers are trying to invest more into the employees that actually work there," instead of interns, according to Schawbel.

He attributes the lack of hiring to the struggling economy and a tightening up of resources. Still, businesses can benefit by taking advantage of resources they've already poured into interns.

"Businesses are losing a lot of money and time by not hiring interns full-time," Schawbel said.

The study also found that 65 percent of employers believe their talent needs have shifted in the last two years, and more than a quarter of employers have yet to communicate those changes to the students looking for jobs.

Despite the bleak numbers, 87 percent of employers surveyed plan to hire more new graduates this year.

So how do students land those coveted jobs in their field?

"From a student perspective, you can't take anything for granted," Schawbel said. "You have to make your own path and use all your resources."

The study found most employers are looking for candidates with emotional intelligence, including communication skills and working well in a team, rather than job-specific knowledge. Employers told researchers that soft skills were the hardest to find, and the most important to their overall business.

"Employers understand that everything else can be taught," said Jennifer Floren, founder and CEO of Experience Inc. "They look for the most promising raw material to work with."

Getting prepared before an interview also seems to have a heavy impact on employer perceptions. The report found 42 percent of employers are "turned off" by how unprepared students are in interviews, while 26 percent said recent grads have a "bad attitude."

Social media presence, or lack thereof, also is taken into account by employers. Although few said they did their recruiting mostly through social media networks, 35 percent said they use the networks to background check potential employees.

The report surveyed 225 employers, predominantly in the humanities.

Of those employers who are recruiting, 34 percent were looking for engineering and computer information systems majors, while 30 percent were looking for liberal arts majors. Only 18 percent were looking for finance or accounting majors.

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

By the Numbers (sidebar, student employment)

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What social media do employers vet potential job candidates with? 42%: LinkedIn 40%: Facebook 15%: Google+ 2%: Twitter What skills are employers looking for in new hires? 98%: Good communication skills 97%:

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