What are Employers Really Looking At in Recent Grads?


There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the hiring process straight out of college. Much of the misinformation is rooted in the fact that every employer and recruiting firm operates differently. But with that being said, there are some common threads when it comes to an attractive resume.

For employers, hiring is big business. It doesn’t matter if they’re hiring someone to fill an opening in the C-suite or bringing in a recent college graduate for an entry-level position, the cost of employee onboarding is always high. According to Deloitte research, recruiting expenses alone average $4,000 per position. Then there are training costs, equipment and supplies, and usually a temporary loss in productivity.

1. College pedigree

There’s always some debate among students, universities, recruiters, and businesses about whether or not college pedigree – or the reputation of the school – matters. In most cases, the answer is no. The difference between getting a business degree from your local community college and a large public university in the state probably isn’t that significant. (Though the difference between a degree from your local community college and Harvard Business School would matter.)

College pedigree matters most in industries like healthcare, where employers meticulously review school program rankings. Higher program rankings are touted by institutions and used as recruiting tools. Therefore, graduation from a program like Rush University – which has seven nursing programs listed in the most recent U.S. News & World Report rankings – carries some clout.

2. GPA and relevant coursework

A second factor employers and recruiters look at is GPA. The exact number doesn’t matter as much as what the number indicates. For example, having a 3.7 versus 3.8 isn’t going to keep you from getting a job offer. But if you finish with a 4.0 in a program where most graduates average a 3.25, then you have a differentiating factor.

On a related note, many companies will also look at relevant coursework and whether or not your classroom training has prepared you for the challenges you’ll face on the job.

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