What do Employers look for when hiring graduates?

In a highly competitive job market, new graduates must work hard and put their best foot forward to be able to secure their first role.

While experience is naturally always favoured, companies also take into consideration a range of other factors and skills, which may help land you a position.

To give yourself the best possible chance, start with:

Academic Qualifications

Logically employers look at candidate’s academic qualifications taking into account grades, level of education and how relevant the study/subjects are to the particular role.

Make you include and talk to the details of these qualifications, impressive marks and any practical learning experiences when applying or interviewing for a role.


Employers often look for candidates who have gone beyond the regular requirements of a Bachelor or Master’s degree.

Upskilling beyond university education is a great way to show potential employers you are serious about developing your skills and building a long-term career in the field. Any extra work or experience completed should be listed on your resume and highlighted in an interview.

Examples of this could be include:

  • Certifications (Both completed or currently completing)
  • Internships/Mentoring
  • Online tutorials or courses
  • Personal Projects/Sample work
  • Open Source/Community Projects
  • Online Challenges
  • Initiative and Proactivity

Initiative and proactiveness are two valuable skills employers look for in candidates as it means the person will generally exceed performance targets and be capable of taking on extra work.

These skills can be tough to demonstrate in an interview, which is why employers ask behavioural questions such as “Tell me about a time you went above and beyond”. Go in prepared for a question like this with a prepared answer talking to a previous situation using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, and Result). You can also have a few examples of where you have been proactive in part time work situations or previous experiences in your toolkit.

Passion and Enthusiasm

Companies always look for talented people who are genuinely passionate and enthusiastic about that line of work.

When passionate, they are more likely to hit the ground running, simply as they enjoy the position, and in turn the work they are doing.

This can be demonstrated by the way the candidate delivers answers to interview questions, bringing to life their passion and excitement through both verbal and body language together showcasing their knowledge of the field.


Company’s generally search for a mix of technical and soft skills. This combines your aptitude for the hands on ‘doing tasks’ which may have been learnt through job experience, internships or study, together with ‘soft’ skills – like leadership, communication, or teamwork – that may have been developed from part-time work, life experience and even extracurricular activates.

Ensure you can demonstrate you have a mix of both to set yourself apart from other candidates.

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