GMAT : Analysis of An Issue

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An Issue

19. Some employers who recruit recent college graduates for entry-level jobs evaluate applicants only on their performance in business courses such as accounting, marketing and economics. However, other employers also expect applicants to have a broad background in such courses as history, literature and philosophy.


Do you think that, in the application process, employers should emphasize one type of background - either specialization in business courses or a more varied academic preparation - over the other? Why or why not? Develop your position by using reasons and / or examples from your own experience, observations or reading.


In recruiting for entry-level jobs, should employers stress a broad liberal arts education, a technical business background or should employers favour neither one over the other? In my view, while the ideal job candidate has significant academic experience in both realms, whether employers should favor one type of background over the other depends on the nature of the particular job and the anticipated length of employment.

First, a strong business background is more critical for some entry-level jobs than for others. Fledgling accountants, financial analysts and loan officers cannot perform optimally without a solid academic background in accounting, finance and banking. Even in sales of financial products and services, new employees need extensive technical knowledge to educate the customer and to be effective salespeople. However, in other entry-level positions-such as personnel, advertising and marketing, technical business knowledge may not be as critical as a broad experience with various types of people and an enlightened view of different cultures.

Second, the employer's hiring decision should also depend on the anticipated length of employment. In recruiting short term workers, especially for positions that are labor intensive and where judgment and experience are not of paramount importance, the applicant who is strongly business-oriented may be the better choice. On the job, this applicant will probably be more pragmatic and spend less time pondering the job and more time doing it.

However, an employer looking for a long-term employee may be better served by hiring an applicant with a strong liberal arts background. By way of their more general education, these applicants have acquired a variety of general, transferable skills. They may be more adept than their colleagues with business only backgrounds at recognizing and solving management problems, dealing with business associates from different cultures and viewing issues from a variety of perspectives. All of these skills contribute to a person's lifelong ability to adapt to and even anticipate changes that affect the company and to move easily into new positions as such changes demand.

In sum, recruiters for entry-level jobs should avoid preferring one type of applicant over another in all cases. Instead, recruiters should consider the immediate technical demands of the job as well as the prospect of advancement and long-term employment within the company.

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