What are graduate employers really looking for?

Positive-Attitude-379x379-pngThis month sees the start of the graduate recruitment cycle for this year. In the last couple of days many graduate employer schemes have opened for applications and many final year students have started to develop their CV’s  and personal statements to showcase their skills and experience to get them that dream job.

The graduate job market has experienced a recovery in the last few years, however,  it still remains very competitive and having a good understanding of what  a graduate employer really wants is essential for a successful application and interview process.

So…. what are graduate employers really looking for?

Researching different graduate opportunities will quickly show you that different employers are looking for a variety of different skills and experience.  So,  don’t be tempted to send out generic CV’s or applications. Employers are looking for targeted applications that demonstrate  how your  skills and experience match to their requirements. Here are some top tips to help you discover what graduate employers really want.

Learn to really read job adverts …Never be put off by a job title, always look beyond it at the skills/experience required. If you match up to 80% of the job criteria then it is worth making an application.  Get yourself a highlighter pen and highlight key phrases, skills and experience within the job advert.  It can also be helpful to build an understanding of how the role fits into the company. This will help you gain an good idea of the what the employer is looking for  and help you think about how your transferable skills will fit into and enhance your application. Don’t forget that  your creative education has given you a range of graduate attributes  that will make you stand out from other candidates, so make sure that you evidence them within your application.  Not sure what skills you have, why not make an appointment with the GSA Career service a seek advice on your skills development.

Gain focused work experience and build your experience beyond your degree programme…In a competitive job market industry experience is KING. Over a third of graduate employers are now actively recruiting from their internship programmes and this trend is likely to continue. This is why it is important that you don’t leave your job seeking to the last minute. Building  focused work experience into your degree  will be highly supportive of your long term plans and professional network.   Why not create a list of employers that you are interested in working for and make a speculative applications for work placements throughout your study.  Or consider how you can get involved with extra curricular activities such as volunteering,  mentoring and  enterprise activities to boost your CV and help you demonstrate your skills.

Be positive and professional …..Employers are always impressed with a positive professional attitude.  Take great care in writing applications and CV’s and make sure your tone and language is active. For example;  avoid weak phrasing such as ‘I feel’ or ‘I  hope’ and use power words ( Top 100 Power words: http://www.careerealism.com/top-resume-words/)  to help build confidence and show your motivation for the role on offer.

Interested in finding out more, contact the GSA Career service for further information.


  • Don’t put off your graduate job hunt until your final year, sign up to graduate job websites early in your student experience and become familiar with graduate schemes deadlines, application processes, wants and requirements.
  • Sign up to the GSA career service twitter and facebook and get involved with GSA Career service events.
  • Attend loads of graduate events and conferences, meet the employer and find out what they really want. Don’t forget that the Scottish Graduate Fair is happening soon ( Tuesday 15th  and Wednesday 16th October 2013 SECC see Strathclyde University website for further details; http://www.strath.ac.uk/careers/sgf/
  • Build your portfolio with lots of industry experience- if you do have a specific company scheme in mind research possibilities to undertake work experience/ internships with them and follow them on social media.

Further information

Find a Graduate Opportunity:

Graduate Job Market:

What do Graduate Employers want:


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