Employers favour positive attitude over technical skills, survey reveals

A new study from Kaplan, ‘Graduate Recruitment, Learning and Development,’ has found that employers are less concerned about whether graduate recruits have technical knowledge, favouring softer employability skills and positive attitudes.

In the survey of 198 UK employers, technical knowledge was ranked 24th in a list of 30 competencies desired by employers at the recruitment stage, while employability skills including effective communication (ranked #1), ‘being a team player’ (ranked #3), ‘confidence’ (#5), and ‘being analytical’ (#6) were all more important.

Kaplan’s head of learning in the UK and author of the study, Stuart Pedley-Smith, said: “On the whole, we found that the employers we surveyed do not recruit graduates for the subject-specific nature of what they learned at university.  These employers generally view a university degree as a proxy for having reached a certain level of competence. There is a well-known saying within recruitment – ‘recruit for attitude and train for skill.’”

“The employers we talked to and surveyed indicated they needed their graduate recruits to arrive ready with the softer skills of communications and team working — skills required to be an effective member of a team.  And these same employers were happy to train their recruits in business-specific technical knowledge.”