What employers look for

The top skills and abilities employers look for in graduate scheme recruits.

A lady holding up a 'hire me' card When applying for a place on an engineering or IT graduate scheme, it’s useful to know the kinds of things employers are looking for. This way you’ll know how to best prepare yourself for all the stages of the application process.

We’ve spoken to a number of accredited graduate scheme providers to ask what they look for in a recruit. Here’s a list of the most important things they highlighted:

Communication skills

As well as the necessary technical skills, all the employers we spoke to wanted graduates with great communication skills. Soft skills are just as important as technical ones in today’s business environment.

An interest in the company

Always do your research on the company you’re applying to, as the majority of employers like applicants who know about the company and have specific reasons for applying to them.

Employers also look for graduates who’re a good fit with the organisation’s core values, so by knowing your stuff you’ll be able to highlight how you’re right for them. They want applicants to be interested in the company to which they are applying; know their history, where they’ve come from and where they are going, what they do and for whom. Be interested in products and services and generally inquisitive and challenging.


Of course, teamwork is one of the must have skills we all know to highlight. During the application process you need to demonstrate that you can work well in teams, through influence and persuasion.

Problem solving

Make sure that you highlight your problem solving skills. In addition, also showing off that you are analytical and innovative with good planning and organisational skills backs this up. Be sure to demonstrate that you know how to apply your knowledge to resolve problems and arrive at solutions.

Learn from mistakes

Feel free to talk about mistakes you’ve made in the past - you’re only human. But if you do, be sure to show how you’ve learnt from your errors and put this knowledge into action during later projects. Employers will always be happy to know you take responsibility for your actions and learn from past mistakes.

Work experience

It also helps if you have gained work experience in the area you’re looking to move into, so for students still on their degrees, make sure you gain as much experience as possible during university breaks.

Accredited degree

Many organisations look for recruits that come from an accredited degree course. This has many benefits including knowledge that they have fulfilled specific education criteria, as well as being well placed to continue towards professional registration.

And there’s more

There are a number of other things employers like ticked on CVs, so if you have any of the following skills or experience, make sure you highlight them on the application form and during your interview.

Multinational companies like language skills for example, and the majority of organisations love to hear about any community involvement. If you think about what you’ve achieved, even in your own time, you might find great examples of the skills they’re looking for.


With thanks to IBM, Bentley Motors, QinetiQ, RWE npower