It’s April. In more temperate climates, this is the month of spring, the month when flowers bloom and the earth awakens from winter cold. In the Philippines, at least until this year, this is the first month of summer vacation.

For those receiving their degrees this year, this is also the month to begin thinking about the road ahead.


What are employers looking for when hiring from the Class of 2015?   The US National Association of Colleges and Employers ran their Job Outlook 2015 survey in order to help the Class of 2015 plan for their job searches. 

The attributes employers look for on a candidate’s resume?  According to the NACE survey, the top five are leadership, ability to work in a team, written communication skills, problem-solving skills and a strong work ethic. Over 70 percent of respondents named these five attributes.  Seven other attributes were preferred by over 60 percent of respondents: analytic/quantitative skills, technical skills, verbal communication skills, initiative, computer skills, flexibility/adaptability and interpersonal skills.  It seems clear that employers are looking for a mix of hard and soft skills.

The NACE survey also asks respondents to rate attributes from 1 to 5 in terms of their influence on hiring. The two top items on the list, tied with an influence score of 3.9: has held a leadership position and the candidate’s college major. The top two and their influence rating remain unchanged from 2014. The message is clear--the relevance of your college major to the job you eventually plan to land is essential. However, extra-curricular activities showing your leadership potential are just as important. This ability to balance academic and non-academic activities shows up again in the next two attributes, tied at an influence rating of 3.6: a high grade point average (3.0 or above on a scale that tops at 4.0) and involvement in extra-curricular activities. The next two influencers, tied at 2.8, are: school attended and involvement in volunteer work. Other attributes with rates over 2,0 are: fluency in a foreign language and studies abroad.

So while the obvious attributes of school. Major and grade point average continue to influence hiring decisions, it seems clear that employers are looking for a well-rounded individual.


For those graduating from high school, this is essential information. It can help them plan their activities during their college years.

In particular, one critical factor involves a decision that current high school graduates are making this summer. Which school should they go to?

The US NACE survey clearly shows that the school is still a significant factor in hiring decisions. 

In a 2014 survey of employers by local recruitment hub,, 77 percent of employer respondents admitted to preferring graduates from the top four schools: University of the Philippines, University of Santo Thomas, De La Salle University and Ateneo De Manila University. In Jobstreet’s 2015 report, 71 percent of employer respondents continued to say that the school is still “very important” or “quite important” in their hiring decisions. The top four schools for 2015 remained unchanged from 2014, except that 2014 number four ADMU now ties with 2014 number three DLSU. The top ten in the 2015 list include: Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Mapua Institute of Technology, Far Eastern University, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila and Adamson University.

In the Jobstreet 2014 report, a few attributes are cited as affecting hiring decisions: willingness to learn, initiative, integrity, good communication skills, technology know-how and trainability. Jobstreet’s 2014 report also recommended highlighting internship experience, academic grades and extra-curricular activities in resumes.  In Jobstreet’s 2015 survey, 80 percent of the 450 companies surveyed recommended highlighting college internships. At least 50 percent of those surveyed cited part-time job experience and grade point average as important influencers in the hiring decision.

Whether in the US or the Philippines, the recommendations are similar. For the high school graduate, clearly, the choice of school and major are critical. Then the student needs to find a happy balance between academics and extra-curricular activities.


This question of the choices facing our youth is critical because the future of the nation clearly resides in them. The more general question of the situation of our youth can be examined using the Global Youth Wellbeing Index (

In the inaugural report released in 2014, the Philippines ranked 22nd out the 30 countries evaluated. It placed 5th among the 8 lower-middle income countries rated dead last among the four Asean countries in the list.  By contrast, in the overall rankings, Thailand ranked 10th, Vietnam 11th and Indonesia 19th. The countries rating ranked below average in virtually all of the domains, which include citizen participation, economic opportunity, education, health, ICT, safety and security. The country’s highest ratings were in educational satisfaction (even though public spending on education is low). Ratings in ICT were below average across the board. The report is quick to point out that youth perceptions are often at odds with objective data.

For the Philippines, a few ratings fall more than 20 percent below average: (a) a youth policy on citizen participation, (b) public spending on education, (c) virtually all of the ICT indicators, and (d) youth concern for personal safety from crime and violence.

Here is a worthwhile challenge for policy makers. How can we make life better for our nation? Make it better for our youth.

Readers can email Maya at [email protected]  Or visit her site at

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