This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

June 9, 2010

Teaching Professionalism

Recently, many in the United States were shocked to learn of major shifts in young people's attitudes about having children out-of-wedlock. The report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that "approximately 71 percent of females and 64 percent of males between the ages of 15 and 19 said they "agree" or "strongly agree" that "it is okay for an unmarried female to have a child". When we look at their celebrity role models young people, it is not difficult to understand how they developed these attitudes.

Young people also pick up other information, values, and attitudes from these role models---information they used to acquire from authority figures they respected. That is why a national survey of hiring human resources professionals and business leaders shows that many college grads fail to show the needed level of personal professionalism.

According to a new poll conducted for the Center for Professional Excellence (CPE) at York College of Pennsylvania, nearly 60 percent of the hiring decisions for new college graduates are based on assessments of the applicants’ professionalism.

HR pros and business leaders polled identified five primary characteristics of professionalism: 1) personal interaction skills, including courtesy and respect, 2) skills to communicate, and listen, 3) a great work ethic; 4) being motivated and staying on task until the job is completed, and 5) professional appearance, and self-confidence and awareness.

When respondents were asked if professionalism had increased, decreased, or stayed the same among entry-level college graduates during the past five years, 86 percent believed levels of professionalism had stayed the same or decreased. Moreover, one in every three respondents believed that fewer than half of all new graduates’ exhibit professionalism in the workplace. Those who cited a decrease in professionalism pointed to young workers’ sense of entitlement for the jobs, changes in culture and values, and lack of work ethic among new workers.

Based on the results of this survey, York College founded their Center for Professional Excellence where their students learn professionalism. York College is not alone; many colleges and universities have similar programs with different names. In addition, the Internship Institute's internship certification provides the much of the same material. ( Use code "COMP0610" for a 30 percent discount) Expect more academic institutions worldwide to realize the need for this education, as they become aware of the deficiencies in their graduates' preparation.

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