Graduate employees are a vital component of the workforce – but how do you choose the right candidate when they all have the same, limited professional experience?
For one HR leader, it’s a combination of excellent grades and extra-curricular activities that sort the wheat from the chaff. “Grades are important, and through the assessment process we seek to get an understanding of the applicant’s analytic skills as well as how they work with others,” said Keith Wilkinson, general manager people and culture, operations, resourcing and people services at energy firm Origin.
“We tend to look for well-rounded individuals that demonstrate an interest in extracurricular activities, for example sports or volunteer work. It’s very important is that they align with and understand the culture and values of the company,” he added.
Getting in early is also the key, and Wilkinson told HC Origin makes it presence felt at universities through job boards, career fairs and information sessions.
“We are mindful that we establish brand loyalty as early in the student lifecycle as possible, so rather than waiting till the final year to engage students, we do so from the moment they commence at university,” he said.
Liz Atchison, graduate resourcing and development senior consultant at legal firm Minter Ellison agreed with Wilkinson – that personality becomes paramount if professional experience is uniform.
Again, extra-curricular activities and a sense of team spirit will often be the deciding factors between candidates. “We’re looking for well-rounded people…what they’re interested in outside of their university degree.”
Applicants could be bright, have a lot of internships under their belt as well as some commercial experience, but if they don’t enjoy, or aren’t successful at working in a team, they will struggle in their organisation’s cultural environment. “We have a saying that the small things become the big things in terms of a screening process. And that’s what we’re looking for – people who are genuinely interested in working for us as a firm,” she said.