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Why grades aren’t everything: What employers are actually looking for
Many students who invest time and money in a college education try to earn high grades and graduate with an above-average GPA. In addition to the sense of accomplishment that comes with college success, graduates hope their hard-won degree will impress prospective employers so they can land a career job. While grades are important and reveal much about a student’s diligence, perseverance, and intellect, many employers are looking for other qualities as well in people they want to hire. Here are some of the most common characteristics that companies like to see in applicants for open positions.
Successful organizations understand the importance of clear communication, which is why they seek to hire people with that skill. In fact, good communication is typically one of the top three skills sought by companies that are hiring, along with knowledge of the job and the ability to work well with others. Effective communication includes good writing skills and speaking ability when presenting ideas and information to others. This may take the form of emails, reports, letters, or meeting summaries along with others modes of verbal interaction. Students can build a college portfolio that includes evidence of quality writing and successful oral presentations that an employer may find interesting and relevant to the available job.
The ability to get along with others from different backgrounds, possibly in a global context, is becoming an essential skill prized by more and more companies. Cultural diversity is a fact in the business world, and employers prefer to hire applicants who can demonstrate familiarity with a diverse environment and respect for all colleagues, no matter what differences may exist in terms of race, gender, or socio-economic background. The willingness to play a minor role and let others lead or be able to take the lead if offered demonstrates versatility, humility, and equality in job-related roles and tasks.
Although many companies do not request technological expertise, it is often an asset as companies become increasingly technologically-oriented and -operated. If you don’t already know the basics of online research, website management, and Web-based activities like shopping, you may want to take a course to become more comfortable with computer use and Internet access. The company that hires you may be willing to provide additional tech training if needed.
Creativity and Curiosity
Unless you are applying for a rigidly-defined job position, you may want to add to your college portfolio examples of creative work you have done. Depending on your major, this could include published articles, graphic design ads, and hand-built lab models. Seeing your previous work rather than reading about it in your resume can impress interviewers with evidence of your creative talents and abilities. Curiosity is also valued by many companies as indicative of potential professional growth, and you can reveal yours by learning all you can about the companies where you will be interviewing to show your interest in their history and current operations.
Although it is standard practice to provide the names of three or more professional references in your resume or on a job application form, choose three people that can speak about your personal code of ethics or character, your previous job experience, and your academic achievements. References who can speak about various aspects of the person you are help to paint a broad picture of your identity for the company to consider.
A college diploma can play a major role in landing your dream job. But additional considerations like those above could tilt the company’s favor your way after interviewing several applicants.
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