Recruiting graduates is a great way to bring fresh blood and new ideas into a business, but it also carries a degree of responsibility as you are effectively helping the candidate launch their career. It’s crucial, therefore, that you select well – not only for the benefit of your organisation but also for the graduate – as that will give you all the best outcome. So what’s the priority when looking to recruit a graduate to the team? Work experience and outside interests would seem to be important but, according to the findings of a recent survey conducted by Anne Corder Recruitment, it’s work ethic that actually scores the highest.

In fact, nearly 70% of businesses that responded stated that they would look for evidence of a good work ethic ahead of anything else when they were filling a graduate role. Transferable skills also ranked highly, while none of the respondents actually highlighted work experience as being a key factor. As we emerge from the Covid pandemic, the lack of emphasis on experience is encouraging as graduate candidates will potentially have found it difficult to find and hold down a consistent job in the last two years. Along with the rest of the population, graduates who did actually manage to find employment may have been either on furlough or working remotely. Whatever the situation, though, it’s still possible for graduates to show commitment, ambition, enthusiasm and initiative by introducing new ideas, hitting targets and going above and beyond wherever possible.

In addition, as a graduate you can also swing recruitment decisions in your favour by taking some simple actions:

Review your CV to ensure that it’s accurate, up-to-date and includes an email address for potential employers to contact you on. Keep it simple, don’t waffle and avoid overstating your experience as that can find you out eventually. Finally, read it through to check for any spelling errors or inaccuracies
Prepare thoroughly for your interview. If it’s face to face, make sure you dress appropriately, and if it’s on Zoom it’s a good idea to create a simple background and ensure there are no distractions. Spending time on researching the business can also be beneficial
Ask appropriate questions as this will demonstrate to the interviewer that you’re genuinely interested in the role and the company
Be yourself – whether it’s in person or on Zoom, the interview is your opportunity for you to allow your personality to shine through and to differentiate yourself from all the other candidates
Take advantage of social media, and especially LinkedIn, to showcase your knowledge and talents, and, by the same token, avoid posting anything controversial to any of your channels
Include some positive achievements. And if you don’t have any meaningful work experience, mention highlights such as volunteering, Duke of Edinburgh Award, sports and any roles you may have held at university, for example

Rosa dos Santos, owner of Exact Sourcing, has seen thousands of CVs and worked with hundreds of graduates during her career and she believes that finding that perfect first job is all about demonstrating that you have a positive work ethic. ‘Here at Exact we work with both employers and candidates to ensure that we achieve the perfect match,’ says Rosa. ‘Post-Covid, we’re learning that employers are now much more focused on a candidate’s attitude to work than on their previous experience. That’s not to say that they don’t take experience into account, but rather that it’s not the be all and end all. Demonstrating that you have a positive attitude and that you have the drive to succeed is far more important, and that’s something we stress to all our graduate candidates. Getting your first job can be a very exciting step forward, but only if you and the company that recruits you are well aligned, and as a recruitment agency that’s our ultimate goal.’

Exact Sourcing is a recruitment agency in Cambridge and Newmarket, and we also serve Ely, Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill, Royston and Sawston. If you’re a graduate looking to launch your career and would like some help and advice, please contact us for an initial chat.