Careers Advice

The 12 gifts of Christmas

The 12 most sought after ‘gifts’ employers look for in applicants are revealed by ScotGrad Programme Manager for Graduate Engagement, Kelly Barbour.

Published: 13/12/2016

Organisations will have job-specific qualities or ‘gifts’ they want their graduate employees to have, but more often than not, they are also looking for the following traits:

1.    Enthusiasm

Employers might see tens of applications for every position they advertise, so make the effort to demonstrate how keen you are to work at that organisation. They will want to see that you’ve taken the time to do some research on the company and tailored your application specifically for the role.

2.    Creativity

There may be challenges during your placement that require you to think outside the box, so prove that you can use your creativity to overcome problems.

3.    Dedication

When recruiting for placements, employers have specific tasks in mind that they will want you to complete. Some of them may be time-consuming, complex or challenging, so organisations will be looking for someone with a strong work ethic and commitment to the job.

4.    Going the extra mile

Occasionally graduates will be expected to go above and beyond the call of duty, perhaps by working late or traveling for meetings. Organisations are always looking for candidates to demonstrate that they can be flexible and add value. If you have examples of times in the past that you’ve gone the extra mile, then you should share that in your application and interview.

5.    Initiative Rudolph for Christmas Competition 2016

Demonstrating a get-up-and-go attitude towards your work will earn you a big tick from your boss. Instead of waiting for instructions on what to do during quiet periods, feel free to suggest tasks that would benefit the organisation, or offer your help to colleagues.

6.    Honesty

It goes without saying that your CV should be an honest reflection of your qualifications and experience. In an interview you might be asked what your weaknesses are and being able to provide an honest assessment of yourself is crucial. There is more information on our blog on answering that and other tricky interview questions.

7.    Confidence

Employers want candidates who are confident in their abilities, but not arrogant. ScotGrad has written useful guides on building a positive CV and getting ahead of interview nerves that will help improve your confidence

8.    Critical thinking

When entering a graduate-level role, organisations want you to be able to think critically about the tasks at hand. That could involve prioritising certain jobs, or developing a more efficient system to deliver your responsibilities. By offering opinions or ideas on improving ways of working, you will add value to your employer and potentially make your job easier.

9.    Knowledge

Organisations don’t expect graduates to be experts, but they do want you to have a decent knowledge of your chosen sector. If you are looking to land a placement in an industry that you may not have a lot of experience in, do some research before applying to make your application relevant to give you a better chance of being invited to interview.

10.  Connections

Being able and willing to expand your group of connections through networking will impress your potential employer as having contacts within your industry and the wider professional world may come in handy. Check our blog on the top tips for networking.

11.  An open mind

Organisations want people who are willing to take on new experiences as well as accept a different way of looking at thing. Demonstrate that you have an open mind by giving examples of times you’ve expanded your horizons as well as grown from advice given by senior colleagues.

12.  Ambition

Having ambition means that you want to learn and develop throughout your career. You could have ambitions to progress within the organisation, or within the field more generally, but employers will want to see that you have thought about the direction you want your career to travel in.

Consider these 12 ‘gifts’ throughout your festive placement search to give yourself the best chance to land the perfect one for you.