7 Skills Employer Should Look for in Graduates

7 Skills Employer Should Look for in Graduates

Bringing new people into your team is never an easy job. There are so many pieces which need to fit in together in order for a new hire to be just what you’re looking for. In reality, there is never going to be the perfect employee, knocking on your door, all ready to conquer the world. New people need the time to adapt, the experience to learn from and the guidance to help them do all that.

This especially goes for college graduates. These people reached a certain level of academic education, but have very little experience. Therefore, they cannot be expected to blow you away instantly. However, there are certain skills and qualities they should possess to make a great new member of the team. You should try and identify these skills during the hiring process, so as to hire the right person.

Here are 7 skills that you, as an employer, should look for in graduates.

1. Eagerness to Learn

Let’s start with the basics.

Finishing school and finally getting a chance to work is great and many people find it relieving. They are sick of studying and taking exams and they just want to start their job.

However, graduates usually have no or very little experience. In other words, they have a lot to learn.

The first thing you need to look for when hiring graduates is the awareness of the lack of their practical knowledge. That means they need to:

  • understand they need to learn every day
  • accept the fact that there’s a long way ahead of them
  • don’t have the misconception school has taught them everything
  • are eager to soak it all in

Your new employee should be looking forward to gaining additional knowledge and be willing to learn. That means you’ve got the first step towards finding the right person covered.

2. Self-awareness

You want an employee who knows his strengths and weaknesses, who has strong beliefs and is confident enough to express them.

No matter how young, graduates had a fair share of life experience. They’ve been through enough to have a formed personality.

You should look for someone who is:

  • realistic about where they stand
  • aware of his qualities
  • aware of his weak points

People who are self-aware are better at working on improving their skills. They are much more open for guidance and are willing to work on being better. And that’s exactly what you need.

3. Curiosity

What do we imply by curiosity in terms of business-related skills?
A curious employee is the one who:

  • brings innovation
  • explores
  • experiments
  • tries out different solutions to the same problem
  • is genuinely interested in what the company is doing

4. Discipline

When it comes to work ethics, discipline is simply inevitable. We cannot be living or working carelessly, letting the stream carry us wherever.

There has to be a routine and a drill we’ve set for ourselves, in order to maximize our productivity and achieve our goals.

College students need this kind of discipline to be able to keep up with the lessons, projects, and exams. Still, there are many of those who somehow graduate without acquiring quality work habits. That’s why you need to be careful when choosing.

What does a disciplined employee bring to the table?

  • self-organization
  • responsibility
  • self-control
  • time management
  • trustworthiness

Look for a person who knows how to deal with his tasks and how to behave in order to achieve them. You don’t have the time or the capacity to teach someone discipline from scratch.

5. Flexibility

If you’re looking into hiring a new member of the team, you have to take into consideration all the other employees you already have.

The new guy needs to be able to work professionally with the rest. That means that he needs to have the right kind of flexibility.

Is there a wrong kind? Yes, there is.

The wrong kind of flexibility implies letting people step all over you, hiding in other people’s shadows and being afraid to fight for your ideas and attitudes. It’s the combination of these three personality traits:

  • shyness
  • introversion
  • doubtfulness

The right kind of flexibility implies being able to communicate openly and accept other people’s ideas. At the same time, it means being able to draw the line between accepting others and constantly retreating.

You can expect anything from a graduate: both the wrong flexibility and utter stubbornness. Avoid these traits and look for graduates with the right kind of adaptation skills.

6. Critical thinking

Many employers find it hard to identify this skill with the graduates they interview or even hire.

This is due to the fact they spend so much tie learning what they’re given, that they don’t get the chance to develop critical thinking. “Lecture, rote memorization, and (largely ineffective) short-term study habits are still the norm in college instruction and learning today” according to The Foundation for Critical Thinking.

Still, many of graduates manage to develop it, so go ahead and look for those capable of:

  • facts analysis
  • problems solving
  • judgment calls
  • practical solutions
  • logical thinking

These skills will help the new hire stand on his own feet faster and start contributing to the company in no time.

7. Theoretical and Technical Knowledge

We’ve put this last because, as we said, the new employee will have a lot to learn and the practical knowledge he’ going to acquire is gold.

Still, you need a person who’s got a strong base for you and your company to build on. That means he’s got the most of his school years and is ready to continue developing.

You need to find a graduate who:

  • knows the necessary terminology
  • has product-knowledge or service-knowledge
  • has the technical literacy
  • has the theoretical understanding of the subject matter

This kind of an employee is all ready to become a valuable member of the team and to start learning the most essential skills from day one.


Hiring graduates can be one of the best moves you make for your company. They are young, fresh and still not professionally molded. That leaves you the privilege of shaping their work experience and pushing them in the right direction. Still, you need to be careful to find those graduates who are willing to be guided and molded into becoming quality professionals.

The skills enlisted above should help you identify the right kind of person you want to hire. Try thinking of ways to identify those qualities prior to hiring and you’ll be certain you’re not making a mistake. That will help you lead a strong team of young, talented and capable employees.

About author: Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks and empowers using the magic of a word. She does her voodoo regularly on the Pick Writers blog and occasionally contributes to other educational platforms. Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin was gaining experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors. Now she had found herself as a freelance writer.

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