There is a natural assumption that academic results are the most important factor employers take into account when looking through applications. And for certain employers and careers, academic results are very important. But results are by no means the only factor involved here. Or the most important! This blog will look at what else do employers look for apart from academic results.
So, what else do employers look for?
What else have you done apart from study? Have you been involved in sport teams or other non curriculum activities at school or university? What have you learnt from these? Have you had a gap year or a part time job? Again, what have you learnt from it? The role doesn’t necessarily need to relate to the job being applied for! There is a strong likelihood that you will have developed skills in a job and have developed your commercial awareness further, both of which will be relevant. One of the best statements I’ve seen related the skills gained form waitressing to a health care role, on the surface these jobs are very different but the skills needed do ‘cross over’ well.
Employers want to know that you will want to turn up and are motivated to do a good job. Call it ‘self interest’ or wanting employees who are keen, but demonstrating that you want to work hard and that you are motivated by the ethos and values of the company will really help you stand out from the crowd. Being motivated just to earn money from them won’t be enough!
A desire to learn
We know you will be applying for work as an alternative to staying in education for any more time. But its unlikely you will be fully ‘oven ready’ for a career. You will at least need to learn about how the company operates, the culture and how to undertake your role well within it. For a lot of opportunities you will be applying for, there will be formal qualifications that you need to go through as part of the first few years. This might be anything from a degree, to insurance qualifications or practical short courses in using chainsaws or first aid. If the employer is going to spend time and money on you for this, they will want to know you’re going to make the most of this with a positive approach.
Fairly regularly, there are reports and articles published that mention what skills employers look for. These will vary from the generic to very specific technical skills needed for very particular job roles, for instance computer analysts or engineers. Whilst you may not know exactly what you’d like to do yet as a career, it is worth being aware of the more generic skills that employers often look for. If you’ve ever come across www.prospects.ac.uk, you’ll hopefully know that their material is pretty good. They’ve come up with these skills as ones that are often asked for, resilience, commercial awareness, good communication, effective leadership and management, planning and research skills, adaptability, teamwork and interpersonal skills (https://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-advice/applying-for-jobs/what-skills-do-employers-want).
Take a minute now to think through how you could demonstrate each of these. It’s likely that there are one or two here that you feel could be improved on. Don’t worry, you still have time! Why not take a look at some of our other blogs which will help here about part time work and making the most of Student Unions whilst at university? They will be a good starting point. Alternatively, why not sit down with your tutor or careers adviser at school and come up with a plan on how to improve these skills? There may be opportunities in school you could take, for instance being involved in a school council, CCF or volunteering that you could get involved in. Outside of school, are there things you could do to say, improve your commercial awareness? A part time job, helping with a digital marketing campaign for a local charity or fundraising will all help with this.
So, in conclusion, when you are applying for jobs, its not just about the grades you get! Everything else around the grades that go to making you who you are, your experience, skills, motivation and willingness to learn are all important too. And yes, for some employers those A level grades are crucial – but not all employers are the same. There will be employers in different sectors who value what else you offer just as importantly. And there will come a point where your GCSE and A level grades are rather ‘ancient history’, by which point you will have built up evidence of all the other factors employers look for. Here at My Uni Choices we specialise in helping students, parents & educators make the best uni choices. Review all the Universities & Courses here or discover more About Us & the best uni courses for you, finally if you’re ready let’s take The Test to find out what course or degree you should do.
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