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What Employers Look For But Don't Tell You

Posted 2/12/2016

"We look for well-rounded candidates who have successfully balanced university, work experience and extra-curricular activities, the ability to work in a team and a desire to learn and drive your own career. Your motivation to work in our industry".

This example of "What we look for" is taken from a leading employer's graduate web page. It's real data.

But think about it. Most graduates could say I meet that criteria (assuming they want to work in the industry). Nowadays, nearly everyone has some form of work while at uni and extra-curricular activities. And how many people can't work in a team? Or how many don't want to learn? Afterall, you've just finished years of high school and university education. And I'm sure nearly every graduate would say they want to drive their own career.

So the "what we look for" could be rewritten to say we want a typical graduate who wants to work in our industry. But that's not who they hire.

What they don't tell you are the characteristics they look for in preferred candidates. For example will they hire someone who is more creative than analytical? Does their culture look for people to challenge the status quo or do they prefer people who tend to conform and not rock the boat? Do they look for genuine leaders, or people who show initiative but will happily follow? And are they after ambitious people who will push the boundaries and move quickly up the organization? Or do they want more steady and stable graduates?

Understanding what an employer really looks for will help you make it through the graduate assessment process. Or it might turn you off and realize you're better off not even applying to them.


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