graduate recruiters
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What do graduate recruiters look for in their candidates?

18 Sep 2017

Graduates everywhere are currently searching for their first job, and they want it to be great. But what do the graduate recruiters want?

It’s all well and good for graduates to look for their perfect first job or their ideal graduate programme.

It’s perfectly OK for a graduate to have a checklist of things they might like their first employer to have.

However, it’s important for those graduates to be aware of what programme recruiters are looking for.

Do you know what makes an ideal candidate for a graduate role? We spoke to some of the biggest companies in Ireland currently looking for graduates to find out what makes someone stand out for them.

At Voxpro, the ideal candidate is a team player, a strong communicator with excellent written and oral skills, tech savvy, passionate about good customer service and driven to reach targets.

Voxpro said: “It is not always not about the course or the level they attained but more about the commitment it took to get there; the projects they had the opportunity to be part of, both as solo contributors and team members.”

At the Aon Centre for Analytics and Innovation, HR partner Jennifer O’Connor said investing in its people is at the heart of its business strategy.

“We hold the bar high when selecting graduate talent. Our dedicated Early Career programmes require driven, capable candidates who are problem-solvers at heart and willing to master and creatively apply new knowledge in ways that ultimately help our clients to achieve success,” she said.

‘We are looking for creative thinkers who have a base knowledge in their chosen field’

In the world of pharma, a specific desire to work within the industry is often key. Anne McKenna is a QA systems manager at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS).

She said graduates who have decided on a certain career path in the industry is something she values. “Often I have seen graduates just want to get a job in BMS or get into the industry. Someone that has put a bit of thought into their career will stand out by far.”

Deloitte was voted the most popular graduate recruiter in Ireland this year. For those who want to join its graduate programme, Deloitte seeks people who are “analytical, confident, self-motivated, self-aware, results-oriented and want to develop leadership skills early in their career”.

Orla Graham, chief human resources officer, said: “We give graduates the opportunity to kick-start their career in a supportive but challenging environment.”

E-commerce company eShopWorld wants graduates who can hit the ground running, and passion is vital.

“We are looking for creative thinkers who have a base knowledge in their chosen field, whether that is technology, product, supply chain, finance or marketing – it doesn’t matter. What we want is someone who is looking to build on that knowledge throughout their career but, above all, is passionate about what they do.”

‘Ultimately, we’re looking for self-starters’

For global professional services firm Accenture, 3,000 graduate applications per year is a lot to wade through. So, how do you stand out?

HR director Ciara D’Arcy said graduates need to be proactive. “While we always look for strong academic results, we also look for people who are innovative, adaptable, good communicators and team players,” she said.

“Attending some of our campus events, participating in online events or engaging with our employee ambassadors are all great ways to help you stand out.”

Other biotech and pharma graduates might turn to MSD for their first venture into the working world. Judi Kinnane, talent acquisition lead for MSD in the UK and Ireland, told us she looks for bright, passionate and innovative graduates.

“Ultimately, we’re looking for self-starters and those who want to take an active role in shaping their career path because, at MSD, professional development is a self-directed process.”

Finally, we spoke to PwC. The professional services firm looks for enterprising, passionate and bright people from a wide range of courses and disciplines.

“We are looking for graduates with a strong academic background but who also have other interests, such as team sports, societies, music and drama.

“For someone to stand out to PwC, they need to be enthusiastic, build rapport well, have strong communication skills and an appetite to learn.”

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Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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