What is the top graduate attribute employers look for?

skills2If you have recently been exploring your creative graduate options,  it might not have escaped your notice that being able to clearly articulate your skills and graduate attributes to others is essential.

‘Graduate attributes’ has become a common term in recent years. It is a catch all phrase for the skills, knowledge and abilities that you have developed as a student on a degree programme.  It is probably best defined by Simon Barrie in his paper ‘Rethinking Generic Graduate Attributes’. He describes graduate attributes as;

the skills, knowledge and abilities of university graduates, beyond disciplinary content knowledge, which are applicable to a range of contexts’  Simon Barrie (2004)

More and more employers and opportunity providers expect graduates to be able to articulate and evidence their graduate attributes. They are key to writing successful CV’s and  applications as they demonstrate your suitability to a role and can make the difference between getting that opportunity and not.

So,  what is the top graduate attribute that employers/opportunity providers/funders look for in new graduates?  A recent survey from the Association of Graduate Recruiters http://www.agr.org.uk/Home found that 67% of opportunity  providers looked for………… commercial awareness.

What is commercial awareness? Put simply,  commercial awareness is having a knowledge of how a business or industry works. It is the number one attribute that employers look for in an application because it tells the employer that you have;

  • an understanding of what the company wants to achieve through its products and services.
  • an understanding of how it competes in the market (including who it’s customers and competitors are).
  • an awareness of what excellent customer care, client needs and professional practice are.
  • an awareness of what trends and developments  will affect/support the business in the future.

All of  the above will help you to build confidence in the opportunity provider that you can; contribute to their business quickly and settle into your graduate role more successfully.

How do you develop commercial awareness? Well this will depend on what sector you are interested in entering or what employer you are applying too. For example; If you are interested in teaching, then developing your  commercial awareness is more than building your teaching experience, it’s about understanding current trends in education and curriculum. Interested in the digital industries then understand where the growth areas are in the sector and technological advances, etc. etc.

Not sure where to start, great commercial awareness can be achieved through;

  • reading sector magazines to develop your knowledge of the sector, its trends and future predictions  as well as organisations, companies and professionals who are leading it.
  • Undertaking industry placements and not being afraid to ask questions.
  • looking at company websites especially the ‘about us’  and ‘media’ sections.
  • keeping up to date with creative business news….are you looking at Arts Professional http://www.artsprofessional.co.uk/  Arts Business http://artsandbusiness.bitc.org.uk/news-events-ab/news for example?

Interested in finding out more, why not come along to the GSAcareers session on Wednesday 16th October 4-5pm ‘Getting to grips with the creative industries’ and find out how you can develop your commercial awareness to ensure your success in the graduate market.  (See the GSA’s  VLE  calendar for further details)

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One thought on “What is the top graduate attribute employers look for?

  1. Pingback: 5 common mistakes to avoid when making an application…. | gsacareers

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