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What employers really want... - Careers

We asked Stuart Haddow, managing director of CVMinder, to be a guest blogger to let us know what employers are really looking for...

Don’t get me wrong, qualifications are very important and you should earn them with gusto, but do employers choose people with qualifications alone. The short answer is “no”.

Who am I to make this judgement? I’m a business owner and past company Director. I have a recruitment company and a software company with an interest in employability support.  I’ve hired, I’ve fired and yada, yada.

In the real world, my son has recently joined the sixth form of a Medway grammar school and, at their open evening, I was relieved to discover that qualifications aren’t the only school interest. In modern times, it’s all about the whole person, so there was much talk of growing students into competitive and desirable young adults. Some interesting industry statistics were presented and they all pointed to a pretty straightforward message … employers want enthusiasm, commitment, resilience and honesty just as much as qualifications.

Employers exercise their right to choose and they can unsurprisingly select people who look most likely to grow quickly, energetically and robustly into a role over more qualified folk who look most likely to tire of it. Let’s face it, ladies and gentlemen, there are many graduates out there looking for work, but who can’t get a job serving coffee. Is that discriminating against qualification-rich people? Is there such a condition as being overqualified? Perhaps there’s another blog in that question. For now, let’s just say that it’s hard to believe that any graduate wants to serve coffee forever. They invested the best part of £45K getting the qualification, right?

So, with qualifications in the balance and personal stature in focus, isn’t winning over an employer just about creating a CV with a focus on your honesty, dedication and reliability?  Don’t be fooled. Employability skills are hard skills that are learned, not listed and they are forged in the caldron of full life immersion. Here’s a really quick way of judging whether you have what employers want:

Write your CV
Remove the river of adjectives that seek to heap on the gloss. That means deleting everything that suggests how wonderfully ‘team’ you are, how resilient, how committed and wonderful you judge yourself to be.

Take out the qualifications
Take out your address, name and contact details

Take a long hard look at what is left and you’ll be staring at precisely what any employer sees.

If you have an empty page, it’s time to get busy. Volunteer, do National Citizen's Service, move ahead with Duke of Edinburgh, get some relevant work experience and develop interests beyond the Xbox or ‘socialising’. The fact is that employers want to see real evidence of your commitment, resilience, teamwork, enthusiasm, honesty and every one of the employability traits you may have previously listed. That evidence can only come from doing something in a situation wherein your character and credentials can be tested. 

Let’s be clear; employers are going to ask you how you came to the conclusion that you’re so able.  You’re going to have to give a strong answer with genuine conviction and evidence.

Get stuck in. Do more and experience more. Your qualifications will take you part of the way, but your pursuits, your interests and your references will impress.

Doing things:

National Citizen Service                               

Duke of Edinburgh                        

Volunteer for MacMillan      

International Citizen Service      


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