5 Characteristics New Grads Should Not Talk About When Applying for Jobs


A survey of nearly one thousand Canadian employers has identified the characteristics they value most in applicants, and, intriguingly, those they value least – and the second list is surprising.

Each year, the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE) surveys Canadian employers to enquire about their hiring practices and intentions, including the characteristics they seek in a recruit. For the past three years, the Top 5 Characteristics have been the same.

5 Most Favoured Characteristics

  1. Communication Skills (Verbal)
  2. Teamwork Skills
  3. Analytical Skills
  4. Strong Work Ethic
  5. Problem Solving Skills

These Top 5 characteristics align with accepted notions of the value of ‘soft skills,’ or personal attributes. The Top 5 are no surprise. Where this data does surprise is in the skills at the bottom of the list.

5 Least Favoured Characteristics

  1. Creativity
  2. Tactfulness
  3. Entrepreneurial Skills / Risk Taker
  4. Strategic Planning Skills
  5. Sense of Humour

“Entrepreneurial Skills, Strategic Planning, and Creativity – these characteristics are usually considered to be attractive and worthy of promotion. It is hard to imagine a company CEO who would not lay claim to them, nor would we expect to see a successful entrepreneur who was not blessed with some measure of them.” Says Paul D. Smith, Executive Director of CACEE. “Candidates who see themselves as creative, funny, big-picture people who aren’t afraid to take chances will want to downplay those attributes, if they want a job at most large organizations.” adds Smith.

These seemingly surprising findings are actually quite understandable when you consider the nature of entry-level roles within larger organizations. New grad hires are being brought in to join a team, to solve their own problems, and to work hard. They are not being brought on-board to engage in strategy or to take the company in a new direction, at least not right away. Strategic thinking, creativity, and the courage to take risks are long-term assets that will benefit the new hire and their employer. However, you have to get the job first. Campus recruiters value hard-working team players who solve problems through analysis and communication. That is the profile of the successful new grad recruit in a corporate structure.

The 2013 Campus Recruitment and Benchmark Report is available, with special editions prepared for Recruiters and for Educators. Click here to download the full report.

CACEE is a national non-profit partnership of employer recruiters and career services professionals. Our mission is to provide professional networking and development opportunities, information, advice, and other services to employers and career service professionals. For more info contact: Paul D. Smith, pauls@cacee.com, (613) 634-2359


Spread the love
Categories: ,
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments