Are New Grads Ready for Work?

Students think they are but employers think they aren’t.

NEW COLLEGE GRADUATES believe that they’re ready to transition to the workplace, but potential employers aren’t so sure. In a new career readiness survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), graduating seniors consistently rated themselves higher than employers did on eight competencies that NACE has identified as indicating career readiness. Only in the category of digital proficiency did employers view students as being more prepared than the students themselves believed they were.

In three areas—leadership, professionalism, and communications skills—the gap between students’ and employers’ perceptions was more than 37 percent. In two more competencies—critical thinking and career management—the gap was closer to 24 percent. Their perceptions were only 14 points apart in terms of global fluency, and only 8 points apart in perceptions of teamwork abilities. These results suggest that both graduates and employers might have to adjust their expectations when new hires arrive for their first days at work.

Survey results are based on responses from 4,213 graduating seniors and 201 employing organizations.

To learn more about NACE’s career readiness competencies, see