It’s Hiring New Grads Season… You Want Me to do What?

Many of you may well be wondering what it is that employers are really looking for when hiring grads. Many of you may well be wondering what it is that employers are really looking for when hiring new grads.

While some jobs are better than others and, donning your favorite pair of rose-tinted glasses, many of you will be merrily going into your first internship or practicum. Aside from that enormous student loan, things are looking great.

Reality Check

62% of respondents who are hiring new grads reported that in past hiring there was a 50% turnover in the first two years! Granted many leave for greener pastures, more money or better wages, but the shocking reality employers report is that 40% find themselves unsuitable for the job or unable to keep up with the workload or hours.

Some sharks are friendlier than others.

As a headhunter with more years behind me than in front (ouch!) I feel it is my imperative to help steady your aim, increase your workplace readiness and prepare you to have a more realistic outlook on what lies ahead and what will ‘really’ be expected of you once you are on the job.

And for the more seasoned professionals, myself included, woohoo, spring is in the air! So what better time to jump on the band wagon. Sure, it’s common sense to most of us, but when has it ever hurt to take a fresh new look at ourselves and where our strengths best fit into the present day marketplace. Take a boo at yourself. It can do nothing but good for everyone.

The Top 10 Soft Skills

With positive attitude deservedly ranking number one, not much else changes when it comes to competencies and behaviours, the soft skills that, according to this survey from Workopolis, are most valued by employers hiring new grads. These are ranked by volume of employers selecting each.

  1. Positive Attitude – 36%
  2. Good Communication Skills – 29%
  3. Teamwork Skills – 25%
  4. Strong Work Ethic – 23%
  5. Interpersonal/Customer Service Skills – 18%
  6. Flexibility/Adaptability – 11%
  7. Honesty/Integrity – 11%
  8. Time Management Abilities – 10%
  9. Reliability/Dependability – 9%
  10. Problem Solving Skills – 8%

My List of What Makes a Great Candidate

Fact: Work hard at mastering this list of competencies and values (that are most sought after by recruiters, hiring managers and business owners) and you will be well on your way to becoming any BC employer’s number one candidate of choice.

Common Sense
Understanding your employers priorities, and having the bare bones logic and motive to do the next right thing ie responding to and dealing well with customers. Making an effort to learn the business and its’ values will put you in good stead with even the prickliest of bosses. I’ll settle for even a small smattering of common sense if it’s backed by high drive and ambition.

Collaboration & Team Work
Know that your life and work will always better when you are working together with others. But it’s not always easy. Some are more pricklier than others. Appreciate the differences instead of viewing from a platform of right or wrong, and keep an eye out for the well-being of all in your team. Communicate respectfully and stand accountable for your part.

Making Use of Technology
Be willing to learn (and apply!) new uses of technology and software programs to make your work, and other peoples, more effective, efficient and productive.

Keep your cell phones out of sight Many employers view picking up personal texts and emails during business hours as theft. Seriously.

Listening, Speaking, Writing
In that order. Listen, comprehend and then apply what you learn. Make notes is essential when you’re in training. Don’t make people repeat themselves as this displays a lack of interest. Never assume – ask questions to gain clarity from co-workers, customers, and your superiors. Write clearly and keep to the point.

Judgment and Adaptability
Adaptability is crucial to your ability to provide stellar support to your boss and your customer. To see if you’re flexibility, think about a situation where you had guidelines but you were forced to break one of them. Employers are looking for whether or not you can exercise sound judgment to ensure a positive outcome.

Problem Solving
Be alert to what is happening at work and be able to identify, investigate, and evaluate potential and actual problems; be able to report them concisely and clearly orally and in writing

Continuous Learning
Take personal responsibility for your own learning by working with others, from manuals, home research, and of course your mistakes.

Planning & Organizing
Manage how you use your time – plan tomorrow the night before. Use daytimers, notebooks, ipads, diaries, calendars, whatever it takes to keep you productive and on time especially with tasks that inter-relate or overlap in time.

Confidence and Integrity
Last but by no means least, being the same on the inside as on the outside is integrity at it’s finest. You can’t hide who you are so put away the fear and you’ll be far less stressed about your actions and behaviours, making you more productive, reliable, happy and enjoyable to be around.

Barbara Ashton is the founder and CEO of Ashton & Associates, a leading executive search and recruitment firm serving Employers of Choice throughout the Okanagan and BC Interior.

Ashton & Associates Recruiting… Placing Powerful People. Every Time.

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This post has been approved for public release by Barbara Ashton. All certified posts carry this Google Authorship link to Google.