What are Employers Looking for From Graduates?

The purpose of attending college or university, generally, is to obtain a successful career in a field in which you have significant interest.  The dogma, for many years, has been that you need a college degree to find a lasting career in this country. This fact still holds true, but employers look for more than just a college degree from graduates. The college degree has become a requirement for employment rather than an extra bonus for employees. Now, more than ever, you must have qualifications other than a degree from a reputable college or university. Even more than this, your university degree must match the standards of recruiters and hiring managers.

Collegegrad.com conducted a survey of employers and asked what they cared about most concerning hiring their applicants. The results were as follows: 35% responded the number one criteria is the student’s major. 24% listed the student’s interviewing skills. 21% listed the student’s job and internship experience. Only five percent thought grades were important and 3% cared what school they graduated from.

What Does This Show?

Keep in mind this survey demonstrated the most important factors for employers when hiring college graduates. This means that since one thing is not the most important aspect in making a hiring decision does not preclude it from being a vital variable in the process. The number one criteria for consideration is a student's major, which makes sense but does not really help graduates. It should go without saying that you would apply for a position that matches your major. Let's look deeper at what employers are looking for from graduates.


Assume that almost all of the candidates that are applying for the same jobs as you have the same major. This puts you on an even playing field as them, so what can launch you over the top? The key here is experience. Everyone applying for the job learned the same concepts in their courses as you. You can differentiate yourself from the pack by already havng experience in the field. This can be done by finding an internship during your time in college which grants you considerable experience.

Interviewing Skills

It seems like a given that you have to be able to speak intelligently and properly to the interviewer, but many people never practice their interviewing skills. It is important to speak in a more professional manner at a job interview than how you would converse with friends. Talk to your career counselors at college about sample interview questions. They will provide you with a list of commonly asked questions at interviews and you can practice your responses to them so you are prepared when the real thing happens.

Soft Skills

You will have relatively equal knowledge compared to the other people applying to the job, but you can set yourself apart by having better soft skills. Soft skills are those that define your ability to interact with others. The ability to work in groups, communicate with customers, and explain yourself to coworkers is a very marketable skill.


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