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Insights: “Graduate Hiring – What Matters?”

We have returned with another round of our Insights content, based on survey responses from hiring managers, mainly in the Digital sector, to get their thoughts on the topic of Talent Acquisition. Let’s dive into the data to see what it's telling us!

We will be breaking down this analysis into three parts: Employer, Market and Overall Perception.

Employer’s Perception

It’s very important for us to understand what employers are looking for when it comes to hiring for fresh graduates. In the survey, we have included a few choices such as Career & Self-development, Communication, Critical Thinking, Professionalism, Leadership, Teamwork and Technical Knowledge.

1. What do you look for?

As can be seen based on the survey results, the top 3 things (based on importance) that employers would look for would be Critical Thinking, Communication, and Technical Knowledge.

This is the case for a few reasons:

  1. Critical thinking shows the ability for one to think off their feet and this reflects strongly on one’s ability to solve problems

  2. Communication is important for streamlining internal communication. Maintaining effective communication ensures everyone are aligned

  3. Technical knowledge brings specialization to the table and provides confidence across the business

2. Confidence in current market and what is lacking?

The data we collected from the survey shows us that the top 3 things (based on importance) that employers find lacking in the market are Critical Thinking, Communication, and Career & Self-development.

Further analysis shows that some hiring managers feel:

  1. Graduates desire for independence but lacks commitment

  2. Comfortable and pampered

  3. Lack confidence

On the surface, these seem like valid observations. This can be true for so many situations as starting your career can be a very confusing stage in your life and we have all went through it. As people, we come from various backgrounds, upbringing and not one single person is the same. Perhaps, a middle ground needs to be met, where employers make allowances that newbies must start somewhere and at the same time, graduates work on their level of preparation for entering the working world.

Market’s Perception


When it comes to CGPA, most hiring managers either finds it to be Not Important or they are Neutral. This is mainly because most hiring managers believe that CGPA is not a comprehensive metric to determine someone’s intelligence, capabilities or fit for the role. Meanwhile, hiring managers that feel it is Important believes that CGPA reflects one’s technical knowledge and their ability to learn.

2. University & Personal Achievement

University is a time where we can further understand who we are and self-actualize. This is at least as important as, simply, the standard classroom learning experience. This ties in with the data we collected, as the majority hiring managers believe that University & Personal Achievement is Very Important as it reflects one’s hunger and drive to achieve, not just in your studies but others areas, eg volunteering, competitions, sports and/or events.

3. Internship

When it comes to internships, the majority of hiring managers can agree that it is Very Important for a few reasons:

  1. Internships are considered as experience and it shows one’s stepping-stone into the working world

  2. Various internships experience shows one’s exposure and ability to adapt to various environments

Overall Perception

In this blog, we have covered various things that are “nice to haves” based on hiring managers' experience in hiring for fresh graduates. However, when it comes to the most important thing they would look for, these “nice to haves” are just the nice packaging that covers the actual food you want to eat. To go deeper, we have broken the themes down into Experience vs Achievement and Adaptability vs Technical knowledge.

1. Experience vs Achievement

When it comes to experience and achievement, some hiring managers believe that Experience is more important as people would have been exposed to actual working environments and this is the best way to assess one’s suitability for the role. Hiring managers that prefer Achievements believe that one’s ability to achieve, reflects their experience and drive to excel. Surprisingly, the majority of hiring managers believe that both are equally important to and they would rather hire someone who has a mix of experience and achievement.

2. Adaptability vs Technical knowledge

Every employer wants to find the best person for their organization and more often than not, hiring managers tend to struggle choosing between someone with the right technical background or someone who can adapt. Based on our survey, we can see that majority of hiring managers would prefer to hire based on adaptability. This is because one’s adaptability shows their ability to be trained, learn, and grow. Some hiring managers even believe that one’s lack of technical knowledge can be compensated through being adaptable. Of course, the best-case scenario would be to have a balance of both; technical knowledge and being adaptable.

In summary, the insights shared are our take based on the data we have available and should not necessarily be taken in totality. It is very important for us to always take each person, each application, and each situation on a case-by-case basis as much as possible. Using data and building a picture from it however, certainly helps us to identify potential gaps when it comes to hiring fresh graduates and is also a good basis for reflection, which the market can use to understand what employers are looking for.

What do you think of these findings? Please share your thoughts with us!

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