If you're wondering what skills employers want from college graduates, LiveCareer has you covered. We spoke with Anne Newton, Senior Recruiter for software intelligence company Dynatrace, and asked her, "What do employers really want from college grads?" Newton frequently recruits and works with entry-level hires right out of college. Here's what she had to say about securing your first job and the characteristics of an ideal graduate.
Q&A with Anne Newton from Dynatrace
LiveCareer: What is the thing employers look for when hiring recent graduates? What do you look for in a candidate?
Anne Newton: The entry-level hiring I do is mostly for sales development representatives. For these roles, the hiring managers are looking for candidates who have a good work ethic, are competitive, articulate, and do their homework on Dynatrace. They must also be eager to learn and grow.
Newton: For recent grads, we look for people with a bachelor's degree and some work experience during high school and/or college. It doesn't really matter what they did as long as they have acquired some work skills. The resume needs to be neat and organized and definitely error-free. No typos or spelling errors. For these roles, having been on sports teams or part of a group or club is a plus. It shows that you're competitive and can work as a member of a team.
LiveCareer: What skills do employers want from college graduates? What hard and soft skills stand out to you?
Newton: Competitive, well-spoken, outgoing, team player, not afraid to pick up the phone and make a call, eager, self-motivated, driven, reliable.
LiveCareer: How about in terms of coursework? Do job recruiters look at GPA?
Newton: Coursework doesn't matter for these roles. For positions in other departments, like Finance, that can be a factor. It really depends on what they're looking for. I always recommend to people that unless your GPA is really good, don't put it on there. We're not really interested in GPA. If someone earned a 3.6 to 4.0 from a prestigious university, then sure. That is impressive, and people may notice it. Otherwise, we don't need to know.
LiveCareer: How can entry-level candidates stand out in an interview?
Newton: Come prepared and excited about the company. Always overdress. Since so many companies are casual now, some people think you should dress casually for the interview. Definitely not! Come professionally dressed, so you look serious about the meeting. The more prepared you are, the better. Do online research about the company, so you know what they do and what they're all about. Research common interview questions and be prepared with good answers.
LiveCareer: Should they send a thank-you note after the interview? If so, when?
Newton: Absolutely! I can't stress enough the importance of thank-you notes, especially to the hiring managers. I have several managers who feel very strongly about them. If they don't receive at least a follow up/thank-you email, they will not move forward with the candidate. I don't think it matters when they send it, as long as they send it! They should send an email fairly quickly after the interview, though. Same day is fine, or the next day.
LiveCareer: Is it competitive for an entry-level candidate to get a job?
Newton: Right now, yes. The market is tight.
LiveCareer: What else can recent graduates do to make sure they're looking for and applying to the right jobs?
Newton: I think it's crucial to have an open mind. Think about your strengths and weaknesses and then look for positions that could be a match with these assets. It may be a bit outside your expectations or comfort zone but go for it. You can always get into a company in one area of the business and try something else down the road. Find great companies you're interested in, and then be open about where you may fit.
LiveCareer: Are there any other tips you'd like to add?
Newton: It's important for recent college grads to realize they don't have to have it all figured out right away. Your career can take you in all different directions and ones you may not even expect. Don't feel pressured to know exactly what you want to do the day after graduation. Just be sure to take your job search seriously and be confident and prepared for interviews.
A few other application tips from LiveCareer
Now that you know the characteristics of an ideal graduate, you can craft an application that catches a hiring manager's eye. Remember: always create a custom resume and cover letter using specific words from the job description — you must do this for every job you apply to. That will help your application materials can get past the applicant tracking systems (ATS), which scan and sort resumes for companies, as well as make a strong connection between you and the role in the recruiter's mind.
Check out our Resume Builder, which allows you to craft a resume that's sure to stand out to employers and land you that dream job. And our Cover Letter Builder will help you write a cover letter that demonstrates why you're the best candidate for the job. Both will help you craft compellingly-written and attractive materials in a snap.