"What are you majoring in? What do you want to do with that after college?" Whether it's at the annual family reunion or just a simple chat with your neighbor, these all too familiar questions plague college students all across the country.
The biggest reason students pursue further education after high school is to earn a degree to better prepare themselves for a successful career in the future. Usually, the ultimate goal is to have a job set up and ready to start almost immediately after graduation.
However, according to McGraw-Hill Education’s 2015 Student Workforce Readiness Survey, only 20% of students at the time of graduation felt very prepared to join the workforce. Much of this problematic statistic stems from the the skewed perception that a student's grade point average and major is the biggest determinant of the student's intelligence, capability, competitive edge, and hireability.
More often than not, employers are not looking so much at an applicant's GPA or their major, but rather the skills that cannot necessarily be applied on paper or quantitatively evaluated.
Your GPA matters--but merely as a pre-screening measure. It may get you an interview but not the job. This expectational gap is what separates a student with a 4.0 GPA with no applied knowledge or experience and a student with a 3.0 GPA who has applied knowledge and experience in their desired field.
Here are the top qualities employers look for:
1.Leadership and teamwork
If you have ever held a leadership position within a club or extracurricular activity, be sure to briefly point out what you learned from the experience and how it contributes to your ability to work well with a team.
Ensure to effectively communicate how your entire team or how your peers were positively influenced. How did you motivate them? How did you communicate with them to establish relationships? What was a problem you faced in your position and how did you handle it?
By emphasizing the importance of leadership skills, a candidate shows a potential employer that he or she has what it takes to help the company achieve its long-term strategic goals.
2. Written and Verbal Communication skills
Written and verbal communication skills fall under the larger umbrella of communication. Any business, project or task cannot be effectively carried out without transparent communication. Verbal communication is especially crucial when one needs to convey a business or project decision to a plethora of different audiences.
During an interview, employers may ask you to give them an elevator pitch on one of their products/ services. Most times employers will ask one or two completely random and out of the blue and questions. You can also expect more personal questions where you have to talk about yourself like what your strengths and weaknesses are. These types of questions are ways that employers test your ability to organize and communicate your thought process.
3. Problem solving
Regardless of what career or path you take in life, you will face problems and difficult decisions. It’s important how you approach and react to these issues.
Many times during an interview, employers will ask you how you reacted to a problematic situation in the past. How did you handle the situation to get a good result? What did you learn from this? In addition, employers tend to ask theoretical questions that involve a “what would you do” aspect. This is a good way for employers to see how quick you are on your feet in regard to making a decision in an unexpected situation.
The title of a 4.0 honor roll student isn't enough to land your dream job. What employers want from their applicants cannot necessarily be typed in size 12 font or measured on a 4.0 scale.