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What do HR Recruiters Look for When Assessing Graduates?

October 25 2016 - Recruiting from the graduate skills market is not the same as drawing from a pool of experienced candidates. Graduates have no real experience, so their main selling point is their academic qualifications and personality. For a recruiter, it's a difficult task to select one graduate from another, both of whom may have a masters in public health online. In part, this is why assessment centers are an increasingly popular way to weed out unsuitable candidates. So what do HR recruiters look for when interviewing candidates for a graduate position?

The Right School

Surprisingly, the school you attend is not half as important as you might think. There is a common perception that a degree from Stanford or Harvard will open a lot more doors than a degree from the University of Arizona or any other state university. However, this is not exactly the case. Whilst recruiters will certainly expect great things of a graduate from Harvard or Yale, they won't automatically dismiss a candidate from a state university. Many employers don't even look at what college you attended, so even if the fact you went to Yale scores you an interview, it won't help you secure a job offer. Only your performance at the interview will do that.

Studying for Advanced Qualifications

There are many situations where an advanced degree is essential. Graduates might have no problem getting a job with a medicine degree, but if you want to progress up the career ladder, a masters of public health or similar will almost certainly be invaluable. The same applies to an MBA, which is widely regarded as essential for ambitious types looking to make their mark in the world of business.

How Important Are Certifications?

In some sectors, a certification will be more desirable than a degree. Most HR recruiters agree that in the tech sector, the best candidates have many certifications to their name. In fact, the right certifications actually hold more weight than a master's degree, which is surprising.

Experience Counts

It isn't always easy for graduates to gain relevant experience in their chosen field, but if your degree course gives you the opportunity to take an internship or work in industry for a year, you should jump at the chance. Recruiters welcome candidates with experience, and those that perform well enough at the interview stage of the recruitment process to be offered a job will normally secure a better salary package than those without prior experience. Clients prefer candidates to be ready to work immediately, so they reward them with more money.

One thing that all HR recruiters stress is that successful candidates have to be 'the right fit' for the role in question. Education and other factors all help recruiters sift through piles of candidates, but when it comes down to who gets the job offer, the person with the right perspective and personality, who will fit in best with the company's culture, will be the one who is offered the job.

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