The pandemic’s effects continue to be felt in almost every aspect of work and life. It fundamentally changed the way we work, and for many, it left them woefully unprepared to start a job. 

Post-pandemic, new hires are struggling with career readiness skills, and different stakeholders, including educators, career services professionals and employers, can work together to identify what abilities they’re lacking and support them as they work to obtain them.

With a refined approach to talent acquisition and development, this generation of workers can improve career readiness competencies. Learn how.

What is career readiness, and why does it matter?

Career readiness emphasizes the knowledge and skills that a candidate should possess to be successful in a job. Many desired skills are people skills, including self-motivation, critical thinking, communication, applying what you learn and perseverance.

Career readiness matters because there is currently a skills gap. Bridging this gap would help prepare people for careers. A career-ready workforce supports the entire ecosystem: career services, job seekers and employers, and it drives better outcomes for all. Yet there are cracks in the foundation because colleges aren’t doing enough to support career readiness competencies.

Colleges are failing to prepare students for careers.

When someone gets a degree, that should translate into them having adequate skills to embark on their career journey. However, almost half of recent grads said they felt underqualified to apply for entry-level jobs, according to a study. The study also revealed that those grads are questioning the value of an education and its ability to make them career-ready.

The findings from the report also include the belief that traditional degrees don’t indicate job readiness, and respondents said most of the jobs they applied for required a college degree. Yet nearly 75% of businesses say they are struggling to find quality hires, with most saying candidates lack valuable soft skills.

For more on the disconnect between college and career readiness, watch the video below.

This skills deficit isn’t solely the responsibility of learners, who have endured immense changes in learning frameworks due to the pandemic. If academic institutions and employers work together to emphasize skill development, those new grads can feel more prepared to be part of the workforce. Further, companies should continue to support upskilling, which benefits both the company and workers.

Beyond redesigning the curriculum, how people learn changed during the pandemic.

The pandemic accelerated digital transformation, impacting education and readiness.

The pandemic was a jolt to the 21st-century career readiness landscape. Educational institutions were woefully unprepared for this, and it affected learners. One report found that more than half of educators said they didn’t receive adequate training on teaching remotely to help their most vulnerable students. The report also found that the pace of learning slowed.

Overall, the consensus is that remote learning has left students and graduates lacking basic hard and soft skills. The biggest gaps remain in people skills and understanding workplace dynamics.

The lack of real-world experience and specialized knowledge leaves many jobs unfilled. In 2023, job growth has been steady, and unemployment remains low. As a result, millions of positions are open across the country.

How can career services and employers work together to support career development?

Focus on skill development — not just education.

Skills-based hiring is becoming a more mainstream way to recruit. In this approach, companies emphasize someone’s abilities and aptitudes over if they have a degree. Many businesses have dropped college degree requirements because they realize they don’t always translate to career readiness.

Career services can follow this same path to ensure students have in-demand skills that organizations are seeking. Responses from large employers highlighted these must-have abilities:

  • Agility and flexibility
  • Growth mindset and resilience
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Willingness to learn
  • Leadership
  • Critical thinking
  • Tech-savviness
  • Communication and emotional intelligence
  • Creativity and innovation


Developing these skills requires experience, and most won’t evolve in remote learning environments.

Modernizing career services and hiring through skills-to-job matching can.

What is skills-to-job matching?

Skills-to-job matching is a method of recruitment that matches a candidate’s attributes, abilities and attitudes to those necessary for a job. It’s the central strategy of an artificial intelligence (AI) job-matching platform such as pepelwerk. Job seekers create profiles that define their many skills, goals and competencies, while employers develop job profiles. AI algorithms then “match” the two based on relevancy.

There are no resumes or applications in this process, and it helps minimize bias. It helps companies find candidates they may have previously overlooked who aren’t quite proficient at a skill. They can then request the candidate develop that skill, keeping them in their hiring pipeline.

Career services can also use this skills-focused technology to modernize their role. Beyond the matching technology, the solution also offers dashboards to track outcomes, assessments for students to identify their skills, predictive analytics, career readiness content and virtual reality job exploration.

Preparing students for the future of work requires all parties to work together and use technology as a key tool. Learn more about how to be part of this movement by attending one of our career events.

Traditional hiring practices don’t fit the modern worker.