Passion! Positivity! Excel(?!) – it’s what employers (THEY) want from graduates (YOU)…

It seems every time I blink another skills survey lands with a dull thud in my inbox. And here come two in a row! Perhaps I need to update my spam preferences?

However, with a little imaginative comparing and contrasting, things get pretty interesting (no, really).

Let’s take a look at what employers say they want from job applicants (survey 1), and what applicants *think* they should (and shouldn’t) be talking about (survey 2)…

Excel – Despite being over 30 years old, remains the most in-demand software for graduate proficiency. 100% of recruiters reported that their organisation was increasingly using data to shape decisions and increasingly requiring graduates to be able to manipulate and understand data.

HOWEVER – 76% of applicants said they didn’t think their computing skills were appropriate to include in a CV. (no, you did *not* read that wrong – who are these people talking to?! – ed.)


Only 15% of recruiters expect graduates to bring specific subject knowledge with them to the role. Also, contrary to media reports, few employers expect graduates to be ‘the finished product’ [and] expect to train and nurture graduate hires.

HOWEVER – 37% of applicants don’t believe they have any skills that are relevant for the workplace and 46% admitted they don’t know how to translate their skills and achievements into appropriate language for employers.


Digital Fluency – exposure, rather than technical understanding. Students should embrace the digital channels you use, whether it’s Buzzfeed, WhatsApp or Snapchat but be able to articulate their benefits. “Graduates’ bring a new perspective. Their insight is invaluable – they use digital channels the current team is only vaguely aware of.” – Marketing Director, global brand.

HOWEVER – 38% of applicants don’t rate awareness of social media platforms as worth mentioning, ditto 14% for managing a YouTube channel and 13% for running a blog.


90% of recruiters identified ‘passion’ or ‘positivity’ as the single biggest factor affecting their hiring decisions. “We would go for a passionate less academic graduate with some experience over unenthusiastic Oxbridge every single time.” – Managing Director, Tech Start-Up. “All our graduate hiring decisions are made on one thing – attitude.” – Recruitment Partner, Retail Bank

HOWEVER – 47% of applicants feel self-conscious and embarrassed talking themselves up, 36% don’t know how to promote themselves without sounding boastful and 31% worry they would be exaggerating their abilities by using professional language.


ZERO – The number of employers who responded that a graduate’s environmental or ethical skills/traits were significant in their hiring criteria (once again, no you did not read that wrong – ed.)

HOWEVER – …actually there is no ‘however’ for this point, just *ugh*…



Not what you expected? You and me both. Read more about the employer survey* from the good folks at Career Design and more about the *ahem* ‘young people’ survey from Lifeskills via those lovely people at Ri5.

And if any of the ‘Howevers’ describe how you feel about your skills, experience and job prospects then We Are Here To Help – Get in touch on 01273 642855, email or see the Careers Service website.


* including why being data-savvy and showing curiosity will make any number of employers sit up and take notice of your job applications. Yes, this is a cliff-hanger blog…you’re welcome…

blogdigitalemployability skillsenvironmentalexcelgraduaterecruitmentreportsoft skillsstudent. ethicalsurveytransferrable skillsyou tube

Paul Rothwell • 06/03/2017

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