It’s that time of year again; students all around the country are waving goodbye to their universities, preparing for graduation (hopefully!) – and trying to get their foot on the career ladder by getting their first job in their chosen area. That said; it’s no wonder there are lots of graduate jobs and schemes up for grabs at the moment (including those in digital!) – as employers across the country compete to add new fresh new talent to their business.

Now, as I mentioned in my blog a few weeks ago, recruiting for an apprentice can be tricky because they don’t actually have that much experience – and the same can also said for graduates. You see, while graduates might have more related work experience for your business, they’re still not necessarily going to have any paid experience under their belt – so how do you judge if they’re the right candidate for your vacancy?

When reviewing a graduate’s CV, there are five key things we think you should be considering.

1. Degree:

OK, so I thought I’d start with the most obvious one – their degree. Of course, it goes without saying that when you’re hiring a graduate, you need to consider their degree – but it’s important to not only consider their degree subject but their university as well. When looking at degree subjects, I’d urge you to have an open mind – because although some subjects might not seem immediately relevant, they can actually fit really well – for example, History degrees can work well for jobs in things like Copywriting.

OK, so some jobs require very specific degrees (eg. web development and Computer Science) – but others are much less rigid in terms of the specific degree required – so be careful not to dismiss what could be the perfect candidate just because they have what doesn’t seem to be the most relevant degree on their CV!

graduate jobs2. Personalisation:

When looking over a graduate candidate’s application, keep an eye out for any signs that they’ve personalised their CV and/or cover letter for your particular vacancy. Taking the time to personalise their application shows the candidate is extremely interested in your vacancy because they’ve not sent you a generic CV and/or cover letter – and it should help to demonstrate what a relevant candidate they are for your vacancy. Of course, that’s not to say that you should discount an application which hasn’t been personalised – but it is something to think about…

3. Transferable Skills/Knowledge:

Remember when I mentioned considering a candidate with an alternative degree? It’s just the same with skills and knowledge. Consider the key skills and experience listed on the candidate’s CV – and ask how they could be transferred to your business and the role you’re advertising. Do they have hands-on experience or knowledge of something you’ve always wanted to do at your company but never had the skills in-house to try? Or have they got something a bit different on their CV which could help to give a new angle to the products you offer clients? Try and think outside the box – and again try not to dismiss someone just because they haven’t got that core knowledge or those key skills which are actually pretty easy to teach.

4. Convenience:

This is a bit of a biggie – it’s important to ask yourself why you think the candidate is applying for your vacancy. Do they really want it – or is it more of a case of convenience eg. your company just happens to be in the city that they went to uni in and want to stay in because they don’t want to move back home with their parents? Of course, there’s no way to know this for sure – but it’s something to consider – because if it is just a case of convenience it could suggest they won’t think twice about ditching the job once their situation changes. As I just said; there’s no way to know this for sure, but the effort they’ve put into their application (eg. personalisation) should be a good clue.

5. Relevant Experience:

When reviewing a graduate’s CV, it’s important to keep an eye out for any relevant experience the candidate has to the job in question. Whether it’s an internship or a couple of work experience placements, relevant experience shows a commitment to your sector – and suggests the candidate has been interested in a career in your industry for an extended period of time.

In addition to work experience, it’s also important to keep an eye out for any voluntary projects the candidate has done which demonstrates their interest in your sector eg. look out for any blogs they’ve created or contributed to, any social media accounts they’ve volunteered to look after – and any free graphic design work they’ve done for local companies. While these might not be overly commercial, they do show the candidate has used their initiative and has spent their own free time producing digital material for themselves or other companies.

Needless to say, the right candidate for you will ultimately depend on your individual company needs and the role in question, but hopefully this blog should give you a good starting point.