ad unit placeholder ad unit placeholder ad unit placeholder

10 things graduate employers find more impressive than your grades

Copied to clipboard

Throughout school and uni your success has been almost exclusively based on your grades- you’re judged on whether you get As, Bs or Cs, or whether you achieve that sought after 2.1, the importance of education in life is well known.

While we’d be lying if we said your academic achievements aren’t important to employers, they aren’t necessarily the be all and end all when it comes to landing yourself your dream job.

Yes, really! In fact, here are ten things that impress potential employers more than straight as:

1. Relevant work experience

Experience can be a lot more attractive than grades, particularly if it’s relevant.

For instance, if you’re applying for a marketing role and have a 6 month marketing internship under your belt, your potential employer knows that:

  1. You have some of the basic skills and knowledge needed for the role, so they won’t have to invest time and money into training you up completely from scratch.
  2. You know what you are getting into. You’re likely to have some grasp of what marketing is and are, as a result, less likely to  quit within the first few months and leave your employer with the palaver of having to re-hire!


Read about how volunteering can boost your employability.


2. Communication skills

If we had a penny for every time one our clients requested a grad with cracking communication skills, we’d be very rich indeed!

No matter how technical a job, soft skills will always play a big part in your success – you need to be able to relay ideas to your manager, speak to clients and persuade team members round to your way of thinking.

Sociable hobbies that involve effective communication, such as team sports, volunteering or event organisation and work experience in a customer-facing environment are great ways to suggest to employers that you’re a good communicator.


3. Enthusiasm

From an employer’s point of view, a candidate who is passionate about their company and their sector is an incredibly attractive prospect.

Of course an employer wants you to be bright, but if you don’t have the passion for their role then you aren’t going to go the extra mile for them.

So, how do you show a company really want to work for them? Simple: a CV and cover letter tailored to the employer, and a level of pre-interview research that would put a private investigator to shame.


4. Success outside of academia

Whether you’re an accomplished sportsperson, musician, writer, or comedian, success in other areas of your life can be more alluring to an employer than academic prowess.

While your grade 8 piano might not be directly relevant to the job spec, (unless you’re applying to be a music teacher of course), it implies that you can knuckle down, work hard, and have a drive to succeed.

This is important, particularly at the interview stage when an employer asks you the common interview question “what are your hobbies and interests?


5. Commercial awareness

If you’re on the graduate job hunt, this is a phrase that you’ll see again and again (and probably again after that).

Grads with business nous, as far as employers are concerned, are a rare breed.

Running a business venture at university, managing the finances for a society, or organising a fundraising event all show you’ve got an idea of how businesses work.

Still unsure? Find out exactly what commercial awareness is and why graduate employers value it so much.


6. Specialist skills

Whether you can speak Spanish like a regular Señor or Señorita, are a dab hand with C++ or Javascript, or can whip up a storm using Adobe InDesign, your niche skills are hot property.

You have something that will be incredibly useful to a subset of employers and can use this to trump any academic mishaps.

Check out these free online courses for learning.

Think about it: if a company needs someone to converse with clients in Italian, and you can do this, then that C grade in your Maths A-level isn’t going to hold you back! Languages do indeed boost your employability, here’s tips on how to learn a language.

Make sure you display any specialist strong-suits loudly and proudly on your CV.


7. Flexibility

Flexibility is extremely important to graduate employers.

Grad roles will often be quite generalised- so you need to be willing and able to chip in wherever you’re needed!

Giving examples of times you’ve thrived in unfamiliar situations, either on your CV or at interview, will show employers you take new tasks in your stride.


8. Initiative

Being able to stand on your own two feet, work autonomously, and have the confidence to follow through with your decisions, are all very appealing traits for an employer.

From their point of view, the less time they have to spend monitoring you, the more time they can spend getting on with their other work.


9. Leadership potential

While you’re unlikely to hop into your first graduate position and be managing a team of 20, employers will want to know that you have the potential to lead.

Why? When employers are looking for grads they’re hunting for good long-term, as well as short-term, prospects- they want to hire the future managers and leaders of their business.


10. Professionalism

Last (but certainly not least) on our list is professionalism.

An employer needs to know that they can put you in front of their clients/candidates/colleagues and that you’re going to be a good representative for their company and brand.

How you handle yourself in the application and interview process will give employers clues about your professionalism.

Make sure you have a squeaky clean digital footprint (those photos of Ibiza ’09 should be well hidden!) and that you have a professional email address (i.e. NOT [email protected]).

Find more career advice on our Graduate Blog – or search the latest jobs on our graduate jobs recruitment board!

Was this post useful?
ad unit placeholder ad unit placeholder ad unit placeholder