There was a "clear mismatch" between employers' expectations of young people and of youngsters' understanding of what is expected of them, said the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
The research found that many employers were seeking experienced staff for junior posts, creating a "vicious cycle" for young jobseekers looking to enter the world of work.
Young people were having their confidence "crushed" by a lack of response to job applications, although some managers complained they were being overwhelmed by the large number of applicants.
The report added that poor careers advice in schools and a lack of support for those seeking work for the first time leaves many youngsters with little understanding of the world of work.
Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD,said: "When it comes to recruitment it can feel as though young people and employers are on completely different planets. Too many young people are struggling to find their first job, whereas many employers are finding it difficult to get the skills they need.