Top 5 characteristics hiring managers seek

Do you have what it takes to land your first job as a college graduate? A new report released this week by entry-level job site CollegeGrad.com (www.collegegrad.com, 2010) shows that, for the first time in two years, entry-level hiring is on the rise. That's good news for job-seekers. But how do you set yourself apart from the competition? Luckily, the survey asked hiring managers what characteristics influenced their hiring decisions. We outline their top five answers for you here.


Undergraduate Major/Degree

1. Undergraduate Major/Degree

It turns out that your choice of major matters a great deal more to many employers than how well you did in school. The survey results show that the most important hiring characteristic is actually a job candidate's undergraduate major. In fact, more than one-third (34%) of employers report that the degree or major is important, while only a tiny fraction (3%) report that GPA had any bearing on hiring decisions. So when choosing which jobs to apply for, you should have a leg up if you choose a career that's connected to your major. 

Internship/Work Experience

2. Internship/Work Experience

Proving that you have what it takes to work full-time begins by demonstrating an interest in your field. Hopefully, you've done that by completing internships or gaining other relevant work experience.

24 percent of survey respondents said that internships or other work experience were very important to hiring decisions.

Interview/Communication Skills


3. Interview/Communication Skills

Nearly a quarter (22%) of survey respondents said that how well a candidate interviews, along with his or her overall communication skills, were very important to hiring decisions. So be sure to be on time, make eye contact, speak clearly and be prepared to answer an array of questions about yourself, as well as the company you're seeking to join. (And for heaven's sake, spit out your gum and turn off your cell phone!)


Undergraduate Institution

4. Undergraduate Institution

Compared to the top three factors, this one is small potatoes, so don't fret if you didn't get into Harvard or Princeton (or Amherst or Williams). However, 8 percent of hiring managers surveyed reported that where a candidate got his or her degree mattered to them. So, while it's probably not a good idea to show up at your interview wearing your Swarthmore tee-shirt, finding a gracious way to mention your school may serve you well--and certainly put it on your resume.


Community Service

5. Community Service

Like your choice of undergraduate institution--and your GPA--your choice to do volunteer work will matter to a small number of hiring managers. Only 4 percent listed it as an important factor when making hiring decisions. But since it could be the thing that tips the scales in your favor, don't give up your weekend gig at the community radio station or your nights as a literacy volunteer just yet.


CollegeGrad.com is owned by Schools.com's parent company, QuinStreet.