What do employers really want when they hire young college graduates? It may or may not be what you think.

The key for you is to think like a boss. So put yourself in their shoes to cut through the clutter of your competing applicants.

Intentional or not, employers are drawn to young grads who will help them make a dollar and fit into their culture.

Not to stereotype employers and they might not be consciously aware, but in general employees want new-hires who have at least five salient qualities.

To land your first big job, here’s how to think like a boss:

1. The three A’s

Paramount to managers: Attitude, appearance and then ability. The bosses’ first inherent consideration is to recruit for the basics.

By way of explanation, they want to know if you have a positive attitude, which includes soft skills for teamwork and desire to perform well. Appearance-wise, they don’t want to be embarrassed by tattoos or poor manners. And, obviously, ability is important but isn’t as important as the other qualities.

2. Job experience and/or internships

By being able to list jobs on your resume, you’re demonstrating you know the ins and outs of workplaces. Employers don’t want to hire people who need training wheels to ride the proverbial bicycle of work environments.

Unpaid internships are good, but having earned a paycheck is often better received. The latter is preferred because it shows you were ahead of the pack in college.

3. Courses of study

Certainly a relevant major in many jobs is important in certain sectors such as technology or healthcare. However, in many other fields, employers will give you high marks for taking relevant courses.

If you find yourself seeking a job without a relevant major but you have taken a relevant course or courses, highlight the lessons you learned or skills you developed. Why?

Bosses often consider your other factors or attributes. Sans a relevant college major, employers are more impressed with your relevant work experience or even a variety of jobs.

Many employers put young graduates, who have demonstrated success in a variety of jobs, on a faster track in promotions and raises – as long as the employers feel the employee has serious career ambitions.

4. Volunteerism

Employers are increasingly concerned about their brand reputation. More and more, they’re engaged in cause-related marketing and helping their communities. Some even pay employees for time off in charitable work.

It demonstrates to your prospective employer that you’re a team player, not arrogant or narcissistic. If you volunteer your services for an organization related to your career goal, you’ll be miles ahead of your competition.

Volunteer work will improve your outlook on your life and career.  It is very satisfying.

5. Extra-curricular activities

The icing on the cake for your candidacy will be more appealing if you demonstrate your participation in activities and clubs. This also demonstrates you have the soft skills companies want.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related tips:

Dress for Success in Job Interviews – Tips for Women, Men — First impressions are lasting impressions. They really count in your job search. This is especially true if you’re working your way up your career ladder to management or any other important position in a conservative or traditional business environment.

Praying for a Job? Key Questions to Ask Interviewers — Employers prefer inquisitive applicants. It shows their interest in a company and communication abilities. There are two benefits if you ask the right questions in a job interview. Firstly, you shine compared to your competing job seekers. Secondly, you get the right information to make the best decision.

Career Advice — Avoid Applying for Jobs Online — As a job-hunter you know that a significant number of companies, nonprofits and public-sector agencies use an online tracking system to accept applications and screen out applicants. It cuts down on their paper work and saves them time. If you must apply for jobs online, you can take steps to stand out from the competing applicants to sail through human-resources filtering systems.

Job Hunting? Tips to Land Your Dream Job with Style, Substance — Yes, the competition for jobs is ferocious. Here are proven tips to be hired for your dream job.

With a Mentor, You Won’t be Alone in Making Career Decisions — You don’t have to be alone in making career decisions. No matter what you do for a living, there’s one investment on which you can count to improve your career. Plus, it won’t cost you any money. Huh? Yes, you can get a mentor.

“Never say anything about yourself you do not want to come true.”

–Brian Tracy


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.