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Seven in 10 Executives are in Jobs They Had Not Anticipated in Their Undergraduate Days, Korn/Ferry Survey Finds

November 21, 2013
Strong sentiment among executives today that at least half of the class of 2017 will end up in jobs that don't yet exist; broad leadership skills favored over discipline-specific studies

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Your perfect job might not be the one you prepared for. That's the conclusion of a new Korn/Ferry (NYSE: KFY) executive survey on the skills needed to advance in a world where jobs are quickly evolving in the face of ever-changing technologies.

Fully 68% of the executives surveyed say they are working in a field different than the one they anticipated when they began their undergraduate studies. More than four in 10 believe a majority of the 2013 freshman class will end up in jobs that don't yet exist.

In addition, the survey found that 66% of executives believe students would benefit more by learning leadership skills rather than focusing on specific academic disciplines.

"This survey casts new light on education and executive development," said R.J. Heckman, President of Korn/Ferry'sLeadership and Talent Consulting business. "One takeaway is that while specific disciplines like finance and marketing will always be important, more ubiquitous skills, such as the ability to influence and motivate others, and apply past lessons to new challenges, are key to career advancement, regardless of industry or role," Heckman said.

"To use a baseball analogy, the leaders of the future will be 'five-tool players' who can run, field, throw and hit for average and power. They will be agile executives who can readily adapt to any industry and challenge," Heckman concluded.

Detailed Results

Did you end up in a career/industry that you had anticipated when you began your undergraduate career?





How many freshmen (class of 2017) will end up in jobs/careers that don't yet exist?

Less than 10%


Up to 25%


About 50%


75% or more


Is it more important for students to focus on specific disciplines or broader leadership skills?

Specific disciplines (e.g. finance, marketing)


Broader leadership skills


Did your career track/industry even exist when you entered college/university?





Methodology: The Korn/Ferry Institute regularly conducts surveys to glean insights on the current workplace and leadership environment.  Results are based on surveys of executives globally registered with the firm's online Executive Center,  The survey was conducted with more than 600 executives in August and September of 2013.

About the Korn/Ferry Institute: The Korn/Ferry Institute serves as a premier global voice on a range of talent-management and leadership issues. The Institute commissions, originates and publishes groundbreaking research using Korn/Ferry's unparalleled expertise in executive recruitment and talent development combined with its preeminent behavioral research library. The Institute is dedicated to improving the state of global human capital for businesses of all sizes around the world.

About Korn/Ferry International: Korn/Ferry International is a premier global provider of talent management solutions, with a presence throughout the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The firm delivers solutions and resources that help clients cultivate greatness through the design, building and attraction of their talent. Visit for more information on Korn/Ferry International, and for thought leadership, intellectual property, and research.

SOURCE Korn/Ferry International

Jeff Baum, +1-214-415-8220,

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