Do graduate job seekers know what graduate employers want?

tickboxWhat makes a candidate for a graduate job a good match? Well, that depends who you ask.

Anyone who has recruited for a job will know that, very often, applicants don’t seem to understand what the job requires. And if the employer has one view on the subject and the would-be employee has a different view, there is never going to be a match made in heaven.

At gradireland, we try to take the guesswork out of this process by questioning graduate recruiters every year for our annual Graduate Salary & Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey. At various times, we also question student and graduate job hunters about their views: this year, we asked everyone entering the gradireland National Student Challenge some questions on their views about graduate jobs.

The good news is that the employers and the students agreed in several areas. But there is one important area where there is a gap in understanding.

We asked graduate employers about their selection criteria: apart from academic results, the most important factors this year were core competences and relevant work experience.

We asked the students this question: ‘Besides academic ability what is the top skill or attribute that you feel graduate recruiters look for when selecting students?’ Work experience came second in the list, an encouraging response that shows students are aware of how important this is.

But coming back to those competences, the answers don’t match up so well. We asked employers where they see the greatest shortfall in skills among new recruits, and the answer is not an area that the students saw as a priority.

Students believe that motivation is the number one attribute that employers look for. And they are right to give this prominence: that came number two in the employers’ list. But top of that list, chosen by nearly 50% of employers, was communication. This came only fourth on the students’ list – suggesting that they don’t take this skill nearly as seriously as they ought to.

The gradireland Graduate Salary & Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey 2012 was published in May 2012.

For tips on competences and how to demonstrate them in your job applications, read the article What recruiters want.

One Comment on “Do graduate job seekers know what graduate employers want?”

  1. I think that with graduate recruitment, it can be harder for candidates to differentiate themselves from others, particularly when they have not had a vast amount of work experience.
    I think that it is important to try and get an understanding of what a particular employer values and be sure to emphasise these points on their application

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