After graduation: Employers consider variety of factors

By By Edgar Zuniga Jr.

By Edgar Zuniga Jr.

Employers weigh a number of factors when choosing a college graduate for a certain position, including major, relevant work experience, communication skills and GPA, U career counselors said.

“It’s a combination of factors — academic success always sells, but when paired with an internship and work experience, it’s a win-win,” said Dana Sowby, associate director of Career Services at the U. “Students need to keep grades up and get related work experience for an excellent résumé.”

To stand out from the 1.48 million college students who The National Center for Education Statistics estimates will graduate this year, counselors advise students to be well-rounded.

The 2007 Job Outlook survey ranked communication skills and honesty as extremely important for students seeking employment. GPA was ranked as somewhat important

“GPA is important, and employers look at it as a threshold,” said Stan Inman, director of Career Services. “Normally employers don’t require more than a 3.0, but that depends on specific jobs. Relevant work experience needs to complement a good GPA.”

The survey ranked honesty and integrity as the second-most important factor employers considered when hiring students. Inman said students can highlight a history of integrity through past work experiences, but showing the history of behavior is difficult if students do not foster relationships with previous employers and professors.

Sowby encourages students to strengthen relationships with these individuals because they can be references or sources for letters of reference in the future.

A 2007 CollegeGrad.com survey revealed that a student’s internship or work experience was third-most important factor, preceded by the student’s major and the student’s interviewing skills.

“We stress internships so students have related work experience,” Inman said. “Any kind of experience in a workplace setting gives students insight about a company and the career path. If there are two equally good candidates for a job, the employer will probably choose someone with past leadership experience.”

Although some employers require students to receive credit for their internship, students can complete internships for credit or no-credit.

“Internships show students are eager to gain some real work experience and not just worry about school,” said Reed Buchanan, a college recruiter for L-3 Communications, a major defense contractor.

Many employers look internally from a pool of students involved in internships. L-3 Communications usually hires from within.

Nick Gough, Human Resources Representative for FedEx, said that his company also hires internally.

Students need to be able to market themselves, career counselors said, by knowing how to write persuasive résumés and master the art of interpersonal communication through interviews.

According to Career Services, first impressions affect a student’s chances of landing a job, and students need to make that first impression count.

Students need to act professionally in every conversation or correspondence with future employers according to Jobsearch.com. This includes having résumés free of errors, articulate cover letters and being courteous in communication with future employers.

“A strong résumé with strong interviewing skills is important,” Sowby said. “You need social skills for the job search.”

Career Services offers workshops and mock interviews throughout the year.

“We would love to have students come,” Sowby said. “We have a counselor available for quick questions and many counselors available for longer scheduled appointments. We want students to use (Career Services). Here, students have dedicated counselors, career fairs, info sessions and much more.”

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