BMO Financial Group

BMO Financial Group
BMO Bank of Montreal

BMO Bank of Montreal

May 24, 2013 07:00 ET

Degrees of Importance: BMO Poll Reveals How Businesses Rank Personality, Skills and Education When Hiring Students

- Degree and alma mater rank at the bottom, while soft skills emerge at top of list for employers

- Half (51 per cent) of Canadian businesses plan to hire students or recent graduates this year

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 24, 2013) - As many students close the books on their educational pursuits and prepare their resumes for life in the workforce, a BMO Bank of Montreal survey released today shows personality traits outrank both credentials and education for many employers who are looking to hire new graduates.

According to BMO, half (51 per cent) of Canadian businesses plan to hire students or recent graduates this year. The BMO report ranks the traits on which business owners tend to place the largest importance when assessing junior job candidates who come directly out of school.

The report revealed:

  • Personality traits top the list for employers, with one-third (30 per cent) ranking this as the most important quality
  • Skill set lies second on the list, with one-quarter of employers (26 per cent) making this their top priority
  • Work experience ranks third, with only 15 per cent citing it as the most important trait
  • References and recommendations (8 per cent) and degree earned/school attended (3 per cent) rank at the bottom of the list

"With so many students looking for employment, it's encouraging to see Canadian companies with a notable appetite to hire students or recent graduates," said Steve Murphy, Senior Vice President, BMO Commercial Banking. "These organizations recognize that this group of Canadians offers a wealth of valuable traits and talents to the workforce."

"Employment among those in the graduate age range of 20-24 has trended moderately higher since the recession," said Sal Guatieri, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets. "For popular summer jobs such as those in tourism, students or graduates might see less opportunity this summer due to the strong loonie, and Canadian shoppers keeping a tighter grip on their wallets. However, the expected upturn in U.S. demand should have a positive impact on Canada's economy and job prospects."

The report also looked at how these traits rank among employers in the service and manufacturing sectors, and found:

  • Skill set ranks highest among employers in the manufacturing sector while degree earned ranks lowest (37 per cent and 1 per cent respectively);
  • Surprisingly, the manufacturing sector places more importance on personality traits than does the service sector (31 per cent and 28 per cent respectively)
  • For employers in Canada's service sector, the personality traits of a new graduate will hold twice as much sway as their skill set (28 per cent versus 16 per cent)
Traits Total Services Manufacturing
Personality traits 30% 28% 31%
Skill set 26% 16% 37%
Work experience 15% 18% 6%
References and recommendations 8% 8% 6%
Degree earned and school attended 3% 7% 1%

The report was conducted via Pollara with a sample of 500 Canadian business owners, conducted between February 25 and March 15, 2013. The margin of error for this survey is ± 4.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20. Data has been weighted by region and company size, based on a December 2011 Statistics Canada Study, so that it is representative of all Canadian business owners.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly-diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $542 billion as at January 31, 2013 and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.

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