Thursday, January 29, 2009

What makes for the “perfect” job candidate in a tight market? Here's what employers said:

A new study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) shows that, for new college graduates in this tight economy, becoming the perfect job candidate is a tall order.

“Today’s employers have an extensive list of attributes, skills, and qualities they look for in their job candidates,” says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director. “And that’s assuming that the candidate meets the employer’s basic criteria—including having the requisite major, course work, and GPA.”

Nearly 70 percent of employers taking part in NACE’s Job Outlook 2009 study said they screen candidates by GPA (grade point average).

“For most, the cutoff is 3.0—or a B average,” says Mackes. “If a student passes that hurdle, then the employer takes a look at other attributes.”

Among the skills, attributes, and qualities employers prize most are communication skills, a strong work ethic, ability to work in a team, and initiative.

“These are the type of skills and qualities that will help a new hire succeed as an employee and contribute to the organization,” says Mackes.

Employers also emphasize leadership experience. Asked to compare two otherwise equally qualified candidates, employers chose the one who had held a leadership position over the candidate who simply was involved in extracurricular activities.

Employers also expressed a preference for candidates with relevant work experience.

“More than three-quarters of employers told us they prefer to hire candidates with relevant work experience,” says Mackes. “In this case, we’re talking about new college graduates who have taken part in internships or cooperative education assignments.”

The long list of wished-for candidate abilities and qualities is nothing new, says Mackes.

“We’ve been asking employers to describe their ‘ideal’ candidate for more than 10 years, and these same attributes are consistently identified as valued by employers,” she says. “But, in times like these when job opportunities are tight, it is perhaps even more important for job candidates to understand what employers want and find ways to demonstrate those qualities.”

So to recap employers value the following skills above all else (assuming minimum criteria is met)


Work Ethic

Team Work



I don't know about you but I feel each one of this skills is most certainly acquired during the course of athletic play. It simply comes down to your ability to effectively articulate these skills to employers. So when building you resume think back to this list & what employers are telling you. Have a story supported by quantitative data that illustrates these skills & if you haven't acquired these skills start now- you know what employers are looking for.

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