The Forage Talent Resource Center

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The Great Disconnect

"In my first year I was so focused on getting good grades and doing well academically. When I was doing my resume, I had a lot to put in the ’education’ section, but then I noticed I was spending 80% of my time on only 20% of my resume — and I had nothing else to put in the remaining 80%. I realized I had to start getting experiences outside of the classroom.” 

Entering the world of work is daunting for early talent. With only a short window to explore and prepare for their career paths, guidance from educators and employers is key. But is everyone on the same page? In late 2021, we conducted a global study across nearly 10,000 participants to better understand how aligned early talent, employers, and educators are on what it takes for early talent to successfully pursue a career. 

We learned that 1 in 3 students did not know what they needed to do. They:

  1. Don’t know what to trust or where to begin
  2. Have an inconsistent experience, accessing career advice through uncoordinated and unvetted means; and
  3. Rely on educators that often lack relevant expertise and connections.

What’s the impact of this? It’s created four areas of misalignment:


Employers and educators recommend that early talent take steps to become employable from their first year at college. Students, however, only consider taking those steps midway through college — and they become increasingly uncertain as they progress in their education about what the correct steps are.


While employers highlight the importance of extracurricular activities for showcasing consistent interest in a particular industry or role, students believe their limited time is better spent pursuing relevant industry experience.


Both employers and students want a human approach to the hiring process, but their preferred markers of authentic intent are misaligned.


Employers value candidates who can illustrate how their general skills translate to the workplace — but without access to those workplaces, students struggle to know what employers want, and instead agonize over gaining job-specific technical skills. 

“Good isn’t good enough anymore.” — Psychology Student (U.S.)

Employers, as the gatekeepers to the workforce, are uniquely positioned to solve this misalignment and create an environment that empowers the next generation of talent. Based on the findings, the report recommends:

  • Creating an instructive and accessible source of truth that lets candidates know with specificity what they should be doing — and when. Open-access and online frameworks enable employers to do this, while opening their doors and demystifying what it takes to successfully secure a role.
  • Creating open-access opportunities for students to develop technical skills through preskilling: a scalable solution that enables early talent to contribute faster and gain career awareness, improving organizational efficiency and business outcomes.
  • Creating opportunities to align on engagement and intent through positive friction, a method used by large global employers incorporating a mutually beneficial ‘hurdle’ in the application process that candidates overcome to demonstrate engagement and intent, and build skills.

Want to learn more about the research findings? Get your copy of the report here

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