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What are graduate employers looking for when recruiting?

As you approach the end of your time of university, it’s highly likely that you’ve heard how competitive and challenging the job market is for graduates – and it’s true. There’s lots of talented people going after the same jobs, and employers only want the best.

So how can you stand out from the masses of applications for the same role? The key is demonstrating that there is more to you than your degree, or your qualifications – it’s by showing off your employability skills. What recruiters really want to see in you is how ‘employable’ you are, and that is defined by skills and attitudes that say more about how you will fit in with an organisation than your grades ever will.

What employability skills do employers value?

Here’s a list of just a few top employability skills that employers are looking for in their graduate recruits:


Articulating yourself well and the ability to communicate with people both inside and outside of the organisation is a big factor in making a good impression with employers.

Covering more than just talking, good communication skills include how well you convey your ideas, listen to others, and persuade and negotiate with people.

Leadership skills

Although you’ll most likely be applying for more junior positions when you’re fresh out of university, employers love to see that you have ambition, drive, and the ability to lead and inspire others – it shows that you’re a potential star team member in the long term. You don’t need to be a manager to display leadership skills, and demonstrating to employers that, if given the chance, you can motivate a team to achieve a common goal is a great way to boost your ‘employability’.

Managing yourself

When you start applying for graduate jobs, employers want to see you take things a step up from university, and that you can handle yourself professionally. From the way you present yourself at an interview, to showing you can handle yourself under pressure, prioritise and manage your own time, employers need to feel that you can work and succeed without constant supervision, and that they can trust you to represent their company appropriately.


In this article on the Telegraph website, where graduate employers were asked what they really want to see in new recruits, the HR Director of Microsoft UK said that “for us, it’s less about what you’ve studied and more about why you want to work for us”. You can have all the qualifications in the world, but the best way to sell yourself to employers is to convey enthusiasm and passion for what they do and why they do it. It goes without saying, but make sure you do your research and know they company values inside out before applying for a role, to make sure you’re aligned with them and can communicate that in your cover letter and interview.

These are just some of the employability skills that employers value and look for most in potential candidates. There’s a lot more to consider too, like decision making, problem solving, and what relevant experience you have – the good news is that whatever you’ve studied or worked as through university, you will have learned some of these top employability skills. The trick to winning over employers is knowing how to demonstrate you have them through your CV, cover letter and interview.

To find out whether we’re recruiting for a role that’s right for you, get in touch on

References: for-jobs/what- skills-do-employers-want employers-want.html?frame=2294720 skills-employers-most-want- in-2015- graduates/#7533d1519f6f

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