Technical and Soft Skills Expectations During the Transition from Recent Graduate to New Hire

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Employer-applicant skill compatibility represents a major component of the career development process, particularly for new entrants to the job market. Newly minted geoscientists largely bring a distinct set of skills learned during their formal education and training, which combined with a broader view of the person are evaluated for career potential in today's major employers. University departments possess a strong view of their role in educating future geoscientists, including the skill sets imparted, the basis of education provided, and the expectation for how their students will evolve into colleagues in the profession. Regretfully, based on numerous surveys by both the American Geological Institute's Human Resources program and other independent studies, the formally transferred skills and expectations do not necessarily match those of many geoscience employers. While academia has increased its focus on increasing technical skills and greater specialization, most geoscience employers have further increased the technology gap between themselves and academia, leading most employers to seek broadly trained and well-educated graduates. Additionally, soft skills represent an area of major disagreement between what is considered important and what is considered feasible in a formal education. While debate continues both within industry and academia over the ideal set of soft skills, the great variance in soft skill demands lead to better opportunities for matching of graduate to employer. This debate further enhances the ongoing discussion of the role of the university, the importance of employer needs, and the health of the geoscience discipline within society. Fundamentally, the hiring and career development process remains as sequence of compromises for both the employer and the recent graduate.

  • Christopher Keane*
  • American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2001