What you can do to make employers want you (yes, you!)

It’s no secret that getting a degree isn’t enough to guarantee yourself a job.

While many employers value subject specific skills, many recruiters are looking for something else. But what is it they’re looking for, and how do you get it?

All employers are different, of course, and it’s impossible to know exactly what each recruiter is looking for. Even so, there are a series of skills, attributes and attitudes valued by many recruiters that can put you in good stead when applying for work.

Remember: it’s not enough to simply possess certain qualities and skills. The important thing is how you talk about them. Recruiters don’t know that you’re perfect for a role – you’ve got to show them, and use evidence!



Communication skills show that you can work well with others. When applying for a role, think about what the employer is looking for and how you meet that need. Will you need to persuade or influence? Does the job require you to train or instruct others? There are many different types of communication skills, including listening!

Develop and talk about this skill:

You don’t have to be a chatterbox to be a good communicator! Become a student mentor and help other students – explain processes for submitting coursework or encourage a shy or nervous peer. By spending time helping others, you’ll develop your ability to listen and build relationships.

When talking to employers about this remember to explain the outcome – did the student gain enough confidence to join a society or write an article for the student newspaper?


Independent Thinking

Thinking creatively about problems, having the determination to overcome barriers, and using personal experiences to understand situations are all qualities of independent thinkers.

Develop and talk about this attribute:

Join a society or volunteer group and learn more about how it’s run. You don’t have to become president. Attend meetings and get to know what problems the society is facing (there’ll always be some!).

Perhaps you know of a great way to raise funds or have an idea for an event? Even if you feel too shy to contribute to a meeting, speak to a committee member afterwards, or drop them an email – overcoming personal barriers is half the challenge of thinking independently!

When you talk to employers about this, describe your thinking process – did you help solve a problem by drawing on a previous experience? How did you adapt it to the current situation? And what part did you play in carrying out the idea (did you write a flyer or bake cakes?)


Time Management and Prioritising

Do you juggle coursework with other commitments? Perhaps you work part-time or are learning a new language? How you prioritise and manage your time can be important to employers.

Develop and talk about this attribute:

Maybe you agreed to work extra shifts at work when a colleague was sick. How did you make sure that you didn’t fall behind on your coursework? Did you cancel a catch-up with a friend to study instead? Perhaps you always plan for deadlines in advance as you know work will be busy at certain times of year?

These things are all evidence of your time management and prioritising skills. Don’t forget to tell employers about the outcomes too – did you manage to help out at work and meet your deadline? What grade did you get? What impact did you have at work that day?


These are just a small selection of the skills and attributes employers are looking for. Pick up a free CV and Cover Letter Guide from the Careers and Employability Centre to learn about others and map your attributes on the Chester Difference Graduate Profile.



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