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Soft skills important for graduates


Soft skills such as team working, good communication skills and the ability to appreciate others’ perspectives rank above academic qualifications, according to a survey of graduate recruiters.

The study, by GRADdirect, part of Reed Consulting, found that over half of the organisations surveyed stated that graduate recruitment was key to building a greater pool of candidates available for succession planning and promotion.

The findings also revealed that recruiters broadly agree on the characteristics they look for in a graduate and highlighted what they think are the key differentiators that mark out the most sought after and strongest candidates:

  • Communication and the ability to work in teams are critical personal attributes according to 62% of recruiters

  • Characteristics related to emotional intelligence, such as the ability to appreciate others’ perspectives are seen as highly important to 42% of organisations

  • Looking at intellectual capability, graduate recruiters place the greatest emphasis on transferable skills such as the ability to grasp complex information (68%) and to see problems from different angles (50%) rather than an individual’s academic ability, where only 27% saw this as very important for graduates

  • An individual’s motivation for personal development is regarded as an essential indicator of potential success by 72% of recruiters with the majority stating that the graduate’s motivational drivers need to be aligned to those of the organisation if they were to progress within their company.

Nick Griffin, head of graduate services, said: “The graduate recruitment process is a huge undertaking and investment for any organisation. With an estimated 185,000 people set to leave college and university this summer, recruiters are faced with the challenge to hire the best graduates who will also have the potential to be future business leaders.”


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