Job Market: Assessing the future

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Employers seek out specific characteristics when hiring

Are you better off than you were four years ago? No, that was not supposed to be an impersonation of Mitt Romney’s campaign slogan. Four years ago, the Class of 2013 was preparing to enter the land of higher education. These seniors are poised to enter the job market, but there is question if they are ready to get a “grown-up” job.

There is more uncertainty about the job market than ever before, due in part to a presidential election and a lagging economy a According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, while Missouri’s unemployment rate is below the national average at 7.2%, the national average unemployment rate lags behind at 8.2%.

The workforce is becoming increasingly flooded with job seekers that have a college degree. With the growing pool of labor, available jobs are more difficult to come by.

There are, however, particular qualities that stick out to large companies such as Four Seasons, The Boeing Company and Express Scripts, each leaders in their respective industries.

“One must have a high level of emotional intelligence in order to work in any career field,” Stephanie Huffines, Human Resource Manager at Four Seasons St. Louis, said.  “One of the most essential attributes of a job seeker is the ability to build relationships within an organization.”

Four Seasons operates hotels at 89 properties worldwide. Fortune Magazine has featured Four Seasons in their annual “Top 100 Places to Work” rankings since 1998.

According to Huffines, there is no particular major that one must have in order to work with the Four Seasons. There are a few individual characteristics that the company seeks out when hiring.

“Number one, one must have a positive attitude because the nature of the job is dealing with people and change,” Huffines said. “If you cannot adapt then you’re stuck, Four Seasons is about change and hard work, in order to deal with adversity, one must carry a very positive attitude and persona.”

Huffines said that the workforce is very different than school and not all things will come fast.

“The idea that someone can get everything right at this second is not a reality,” Huffines said.  “You have to be willing to put in your dues and gain experience in order to move up in the Four Seasons.”

According to Huffines, there are qualities college students can begin developing now.

“Qualities to work on throughout a college student’s career for this industry include cooperation, innovative service thinking, the willingness to travel and above all, harboring a positive attitude,” Huffines said.

Another industry leader in St. Louis, The Boeing Company, will look to hire 12,000 to 15,000 new employees within the upcoming year.

“One must possess ability to think critically and creatively and possess strong teamwork qualities,” Stephen Davis, spokesperson for The Boeing Company, said. “One must be able to adapt to rapid industry change and re-apply new skills.”

According to Davis, the top college majors that Boeing hires from are engineering science, mathematics, statistics, information technology, design and manufacturing processes.  Aside from the fields of study that are normally associated with an aerospace company, many different positions are necessary to be filled that include sales, business, human resources and physical life science.

Davis said that learning should continue beyond college and that job candidates should develop and maintain ethical behavior.

“A college graduate must not lose that desire for learning; it should be a lifelong desire,” Davis said. “One must be continually motivated to learn while maintaining the highest ethical standards.”

Davis said that during one’s college tenure, Boeing will look for school projects and activities that would translate well to real projects within the company.  One of the biggest things an extracurricular activity can show a company like Boeing is the ability to apply classroom-learned skills.

“We recruit Saint Louis University very hard because we recognize their curriculum prepares students best for the job responsibilities at Boeing,” Davis said. “We have actually selected SLU as a top-tier recruiting institution.”

The Express Scripts is a pharmacy-benefits managing company that maintains its headquarters in St. Louis.   They are located on the campus of University of Missouri – St. Louis but harbor a good relationship with SLU and, more specifically, with the John Cook School of Business.

“We have had great success with hiring from SLU’s business school as well as the masters of Health Sciences program,” Jessica Wiese, Talent Acquisition Specialist from Express Scripts, said. “We carry a very good relationship with the students and faculty.”

Express Scripts employs around 33,000 people nationwide.  According to Wiese, the positions that they look to fill are wide-ranging and include information technology, human resources, business, sales/marketing, supply chain, finance/accounting, and operations. There are a certain number of specific personality traits that are beneficial as well.

“One must contain a strong work ethic, good attitude, passion and be team oriented,” Wiese said. “An education is extremely important and necessary but tailoring oneself to good traits go a long way to future careers.”

According to Wiese, it is important for students to understand that they will not apply only what they learned in the classroom. Extracurricular activities and internship experiences are also important to developing skills employers’ desire.

“Once [college students realize] that, they can begin to focus on specific qualities that Express looks for,” Wiese said. “You can be made better through experience of any kind whether it be internships or extra-curricular activities.”

Express Scripts looks for students with strong values, as well as skills. The company dedicates a company-wide initiative called Expressway that includes values of service, alignment, integrity, passion, mutual respect and collaboration.

“Express Scripts puts a huge emphasis on how an individual can work in the big picture,” Wiese said. “It has been shown that these qualities promote the type of individual we look for.”

According to Wiese, Express Scripts is seeing substantial growth and do not anticipate any slowdown or freeze on hiring.  Express Scripts will continue to seek out top talent.

Huffines also stressed the importance of college students seeking out qualities that build a complete person, not just a complete employee.

“You must contain the passion for helping and service while maintaining the integrity and willingness to learn,” Huffines said.

Will you be better off in four years?