The hiring process is just as difficult on the other side of the table. Managers are expected to compare applicants coming from different colleges, different towns and all holding different internships.
Guy Friedman, Founder and CEO of GFGroup, saw a need for a standardized business skills exam for undergraduates, which would give the applicants a chance to better demonstrate their skills in a uniform and measurable way to employers.
"The entry-level recruiting space is inefficient and expensive. It relies too heavily on criteria such as GPAs, Majors, extra-curricular activities and internships – criteria that is inconsistent across different majors and schools," said Friedman. "What we've done is create an exam that standardizes the way organizations measure the hard skills of entry-level applicants."
Called the Certified Business Laureate (CBL) Exam, the standardized test consists of practical business concepts in finance, , marketing, MS Office and writing proficiency. Friedman said that the exam was developed by business professionals and MBA professors for both job seekers and businesses.
"The exam was designed for individuals primarily looking for a job," said Friedman. "It's most useful for the entry-level group because there are few, if any, objective ways to measure a candidate's business skills and knowledge."
Students can sign up online as well as obtain a study guide manual to help prepare for the CBL exam. Once enrolled, students will be notified of the 230 testing centers around the country that will begin testing in March 2011. A curriculum committee of top professors from Wharton, University of Chicago and University of Florida have helped to develop the exam, along with guidance from a testing-design and psychometrics firm who calibrates the exam for difficulty and biases.
Although testing does not begin until March 2011, business students see the exam as a way to catch the eye of employers that were normally out of reach.
Patrick Reistrom, a recent graduate of Florida Atlantic University, said that the exam can help show a candidate's potential for the position since undergraduates have a difficult time portraying their abilities through internships.
"Being able to show an employer not only that you're interested in that position but that you passed the exam could give you a much better chance of getting the job," said Reistrom.
Michael Smith, a recent Manhattan College graduate, said that the exam can also help a student measure their own potential.
"The results could give you a very good overall sense of how well-rounded you were as a business student. Where are my strengths? Where are my weaknesses? This test seems as though it could really help with answering those questions," said Smith.
Excitement about the exam has come also from hiring professionals who see the CBL exam as an answer to current high recruiting costs and worthy applicants falling through the cracks. Vin McCaffrey, founder and CEO of Game Theory Group International, plans to use the exam as a consistent filter for candidates.
"I think a major challenge for any entry-level recruiter is to get a consistent view across a very inconsistent playing field," said McCaffrey. "This exam helps pull risk out of the equation through a more thorough and consistent screening process."
Game Theory is a talent managementfirm that has been put on the map with the help of McCaffrey by stating that they work to build a bridge between the professional world and the academic world. McCaffrey believes this exam will represent an accurate measure across all candidates and is worthy to his company as they try to match applicants with the needs of hiring professionals.
"[The CBL Exam] will help HR professionals benchmark candidates from all backgrounds and give them access to candidates outside their normal recruiting geography," said Friedman. "The CBL Exam promises to level the employment playing field."