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What is an Employer Looking for in a New Graduate?

Going for the first job out of college can be tough, and many upcoming grads worry about how they will stack up against their competition. Of course, what employers are looking for varies greatly by industry, but in general, there are some commonalities that can help the job seeker prepare for their next step. 

If you are applying for an entry-level position, typically employers are not expecting you to be an expert in the field. You should have an academic foundation in the industry, but when hiring new grads, the employer often knows they will need to further train the student. What they do want to see is a proven grasp of fundamental career readiness skills. In a large survey sponsored by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the top career readiness skills are: 

  1. Leadership
  2. Ability to work in a team
  3. Communication skills (written and verbal)
  4. Problem-solving skills
  5. Strong work ethic

Additionally, according to the survey, 65 percent of employers prefer to hire candidates with relevant experience. Employers didn't have a strong favorite to how students gained those skills, whether it was an internship (56 percent) or no preference (44 percent), so gaining experience whether in a job, internship or even volunteer experience is recommended. 

Finally, the best way to introduce an employer to your skill set is still through a well-written resume. Be sure your resume showcases these skills in context. Don't simply list that you have excellent teamwork skills — show examples where you have demonstrated this. Resumes are not only important to demonstrate these abilities, but also are your chance to make a first impression of your organizational and presentation skills, so they are worth doing right. 

When looking for your first job out of college, keep these ideas in mind and help yourself stand out. 

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