Recent College Grads Called 'Unprofessional'

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College Grads Recent college grads are not getting good grades on their post-graduate performance. In a recent survey, human resources and business professionals said they felt that half of all college grads don't exhibit professionalism at work, and the executives don't expect any change in the near future.

The recent York College of Pennsylvania poll ranked inappropriate appearance at the top of the unprofessional work behavior list.

But the list goes on.

"College grads grew up on technology and don't realize smartphones, and now tablets, are huge distractions that send a message to the other person that this text, this email, this download is more important than you. It screams poor communication skills," says Pamela Eyring, president of The Protocol School of Washington. She thinks a recent Yahoo! HotJobs poll sums it up: "A third of more than 5,000 respondents said they often check emails during meetings."

Eyring says that soft (people) skills account for 85 percent of job success. "We're spotlighting the importance of people skills, professionalism, and protocol: how you shake hands, make eye contact, and dress appropriately at work," says Erying, who offers new fans business etiquette tips on her Facebook page.

One of Eyring's favorite tips is to get a "personal business card" with your name and contact info. "The Wall Street Journal reported (April 17, 2011) 'personalized business cards are enjoying a revival and job-hunters are finding them a handy way to differentiate themselves from the masses.' " Eyring agrees with The Journal that personal business cards don't shout, they flirt with potential employers, and are a quiet rebuttal to the jabber-jawing of Twitter and Facebook.

She has several other tips for the recent-college-grad job seeker. They may seem obvious to those who are more mature, but judging by the responses of the HR professionals surveyed, those new to the workforce could use a few reminders:

  1. Clean up your virtual image. Delete inappropriate photos and text from social networking sites, including your friends' sites. Replace them with professional photos and a one-to-two-page resume and references (from summer jobs or internships).
  2. Dress like a professional. Wear neutral colored suits. Ties and polished shoes for men, closed-toe shoes, traditional jewelry, and some makeup for women. (Employers view a little makeup as professional.) Also, don't show too much skin. It's employers' No. 1 complaint.
  3. Research the company. Know their history, vision and recent press.
  4. Turn off your cell phone. Remember, ringing or vibrating phones are distracting.
  5. Be on time. Arriving 10 minutes early shows anxiety. Arriving late could cost you the job.
  6. Make direct eye contact. Hold eye contact 40 to 60 percent of the time, shake hands making firm web-to-web contact (when meeting and leaving), maintain straight (not too stiff) posture.
  7. Write a thank-you note. Spend five minutes "writing" a thank-you note on quality paper and boost your hiring chances by 20 percent. Send it within 24 hours of the interview.

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