While recent graduates for the class of 2014 are concerned about how their GPA, coursework and internships will translate into jobs this summer, companies are actually more concerned about personality when recruiting new grads.
In a new joint study done by Beyond.com and my company, Millennial Branding, we found that 43 percent of HR professionals rank “cultural fit” as the single-most-important thing in the hiring process. Only 2 percent of companies care about how high your GPA is.
For the projected 1.6 million students graduating this year with bachelor degrees, this is a major shift in how they choose which companies to approach and how to best market themselves. Students now have to apply to jobs based on cultural fit, not just on salary, benefits and location, as is typical in a recent grad's criteria.
A company's culture is what it's like to work there and its overall environment. When interviewing, employers are looking to see if the prospect has a positive attitude (84 percent), communication skills (83 percent), and whether or not that they can work successfully in a team (64 percent).
Based on a study I did last year, these are also the attributes that managers are looking for when promoting workers. The person you're interviewing will judge your attitude based on your body language, tone, and overall excitement for the position and company.
They will know quickly if you're just looking for the paycheck or if you're interested in a career with them. That's because employees who have a positive attitude are more productive and stay with the company longer, which saves companies money and increases overall output per employee.
This is why you should focus on the companies and positions you are genuinely passionate about. If you don't, the person who has that enthusiasm will get the job over you every single time.
To further judge your communication skills, employers will look at your eye contact, posture, hand gestures, and how well you can sell yourself and your abilities. Finally, they will ask you questions about situations where you've worked in teams and introduce you to their team members to see how well you get along with them.
The real secret to employment is doing your due diligence on the companies you're applying to so that you're aligning who you are with the company that can best support you.
The problem is that students aren't ready for interviews. In our study, we found that 36 percent of companies say students are unprepared, and 33 percent said they have a bad attitude when interviewing.
If you're selecting the right companies, you will naturally put in the extra effort to review everything about them before you apply and go on your first interview. If you're just trying to get a job, then you won't invest enough time to convince them that you want to work there, it's that simple. There's just too much competition now to walk in unprepared, and with a bad attitude, so it's far better to be patient and really think about the company culture that would best fit your personality before applying.
© 2014 American City Business Journals, Inc.