The key skill that executives seek when recruiting college graduates? 43% say learning agility, in a new survey by the Futurestep division of Korn Ferry, which defined learning agility, as “the ability to learn from experiences and apply those learnings to new roles.”

Unfortunately, learning agility virtually tied (30%) with business acumen (31%) as the largest skills gap among college recruits, in the global survey of 1,753 respondents.

When asked the most pressing diversity goal for college recruiting efforts, the vast majority (71%) said “diversity of thought.” Among other diversity priorities, respondents ranked, in order: gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

In other findings, as the saying goes, “it’s not what you know, but who you know”, 26% of executives said a personal referral is their biggest incentive to make initial contact with a candidate. That was exceeded only by “previous examples of leadership and problem solving” (34%).

ALSO READ: The skills that graduate recruiters want most (and can’t find)

Finally, after deciding that a college candidate is not the right fit for a position, less than a third of respondents (29%) have a “keep warm” strategy for future opportunities, and less than one quarter (22%) add recruits to their long-term applicant tracking system.

What is the top attribute you look for when hiring a college student?

  • Grades  0%
  • Learning agility 43%
  • Previous experience  1%
  • Drive / passion  27%
  • Fit with our culture  17%
  • Motivation  12%

What are the key skill gaps in college recruits?

  • Leadership  16%
  • Learning agility  30%
  • Communication  11%
  • Drive and motivation  10%
  • Technical skills  3%
  • Business acumen  31%

What are you doing to engage college candidates?

  • On-campus information sessions  25%
  • In-person networking / social events  39%
  • Online / social events  3%
  • Online talent communities  7%
  • Social media (LinkedIn, Twitter)  25%
  • Host conferences  1%

What is the best method of initial interviewing college recruits?

  • Video interviewing  20%
  • On-campus group interview  47%
  • E-mail  2%
  • Phone  12%
  • Networking / social events  16%
  • Conferences  3%

What happens when you decide a college candidate is not a right fit for the role?

  • We send an email thanking for their interest  11%
  • We encourage them to apply for future opportunities with us  34%
  • We invite them to continue to interact with our brand via social media  4%
  • We create a “keep warm” strategy for future opportunities  29%
  • We add them to our longer-term applicant tracking system  22%

Image: Shutterstock

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