“Get good grades if you want to succeed,” You’ll hear that platitude coming from every old timer who thinks they can teach you a thing or two, but the studies concerning employer preferences paint a different picture. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the top hiring qualities have more to do with your work experience than academic career.
In the Chronicle of Higher Education’s 2012 study, the top five greatest attributes for hiring were:
- Employment during college
- College major
- Volunteer experience
- Extracurricular activities
The stats don’t lie; experience is coming out way ahead of academics in terms of hiring importance. But what is the specific experience that the best employers are looking for?
Specific experiences that will get you hired
If college students graduated in cohorts, you can bet that academics would be more significant in today’s hiring process. But for the most part, college success is a product of individual effort in a highly structured environment. Internships, work experience during college, and volunteer experience all tell about a person’s willingness to adapt and achieve in a team setting, and that is what the best employers are interested in.
The gifted academic can float through college with a 4.0 GPA, so academic achievements say nothing of qualities like work ethic and flexibility in a team setting. One thing that speaks volumes of those important qualities is farm experience.
Working and volunteering on a farm requires strengths, risks, and sacrifices that no office job could prepare you for. Farm life presents no safety, and operations must continue despite rain, sleet, or snow. Those who have grown up on a farm or who have volunteered on a farm are at a distinct advantage to those who haven’t because of an ingrained resilience, work ethic, and team-first mentality.
Farm life entails routine sacrifices that build character and competence, which are two highly prized assets in the corporate world. When prospective employers see “farm” on your résumé, they’ll start to drool. Practically no one in the corporate world has farm experience, so advertise whatever chops you have. But don’t worry, if you don’t have farm experience or the desire to get your hands dirty, there are other ways to prove your employable experience.
Start a blog
Employers are looking for enthusiastic people who are dedicated to their career and who demonstrate an aptitude for learning. One of the best ways you can build and prove these qualities is by operating and maintaining a blog site. It doesn’t matter what your area of expertise is (though applicable skills score you more points) — when you commit to a daily or weekly blog post, you exemplify discipline, a willingness to risk for the good of others, and an insatiable curiosity that drives your writing.
In the Chronicle’s 2012 study of hiring traits, written and oral communication skills were ranked at the top of the list, even before collaborating with others. Operating a blog testifies to a person’s self-starting capabilities, to their level of commitment, to their communication skills, and to their employability. If you haven’t started your own blog, WordPress has free templates you can use in conjunction with a server, like Bluehost. As a bonus, owning your own website will give you access to a private site-based email account which impresses prospective employers.
The process of starting a blog can seem like a great challenge to the web-inept, but you can actually set yours up in under three hours and for less than fifty bucks. Check out this top rated YouTube video on activating your first WordPress blog.
Promote your relationship abilities
As author Nicholas Boothman says, “The better you are at connecting with other people, the better your quality of life.” Employers are looking for quality people they can see coming into the office and joining the team the very next day. Even if you have all the right qualifications for the job, someone who the hiring manager can see fitting in with the team will end up taking the position.
You can promote your relationship abilities by focusing on the relationships within your work experience. If you had a quirky and fun relationship with your former boss or volunteer manager, let your employers in on the rich details of your working relationships. It goes without saying that discernment is required; stating that “playful groping” was part of your working relationships at your former office might not be the ticket.
Accomplishments are eye catchers for the people reading your résumé, but they say nothing of the road to achievement. Highlighting the relationships that led to achievement will give your potential employers a feel for who you are and the energy you’ll bring to their team.
If you’ve been getting passed over despite your top-notch qualifications, chances are your résumé and interviews are lacking some essential experiences. If your grades were average throughout college, or even if you never attended in the first place, you can catch the eyes of the best employers by advertising the sacrifices and discipline of your work history, your writing experience, and your relationship experiences.