What Hiring Managers should be looking for in a Recent College Graduate

by | Jul 12, 2017

Recently we wrote about why you shouldn’t limit your sales search to top tier schools, which if anything, expands your talent pool and creates a little more work filtering candidates. So in this bog we want to highlight who, and what, to look for as those resumes stack up.

So, let’s start with what you know, or, what you think you know: GPAs.

A GPA on a resume is not the end-all, be-all. For many candidates fresh out of college, it’s a number they try to flash, or hide, based on the weight they think it carries in their application. But just because a student has a high GPA, doesn’t necessarily mean their performance in the classroom will translate to a sales floor and similarly, if a student has a slightly lower GPA, it won’t necessarily translate to their quality of work now that they are out of the dorms and into the real world.

Although it may seem like an easy, quantifying place to start on a resume (two thirds of employers use this as a screening process) you may want to take a scan over the resume as a whole, before you fixate on a number like this, which is taken out of context and created in an academic environment, rather than professional field.

When scanning a resume, here are some key concepts to look for:

Eagerness to learn

Whether your new hire is 21 or 31, freshly postgrad, or remotely experienced, a candidate can always learn more. In fact, they’ll probably have to learn more as every company works differently, therefore, a resume that explicitly advertises the desire to learn more is a good sign. Other good signs are involvement with different campus groups or certifications in other areas. Whether it’s an online coding class, CPR, or something more recreational, the point is that the candidate has a penchant for picking up new skills.

Ability to explain a complex issue

This is a good skill to have for sales, but it also translates to leadership, collaboration, and presentation capabilities. Patience, competence and how a candidate perceives, information are also hidden under this umbrella and are also desirable qualities for your new candidate.

Tech Savvy

Although in today’s world tech seems to be built into our culture, not everyone is necessarily tech “savvy.” Just because a candidate may spend eight hours a day on a computer and touch their phone 2,617 times a day, doesn’t mean they are fluent in the technological skills that are relevant to your company. These days Microsoft Office products are a given with college grads. Instead look for basic skills in things like social media advertising and marketing, web development (even a simple site built on a website builder), or running and teaching systems for a family business or college job.


We’re not saying to look for someone saying, “I performed skill 1, 2, and 3 with energy.” Instead read for energetic tone, the use of active words and considerable and concise explanations. In many cases a cover letter or introductory phone call gives you a better feel for energy than a resume.

The last recommendation is that if you have any doubt about any of these skills that may translate to a candidate’s performance at your company, take the search off paper and call them. If you’re just testing for energy, don’t schedule a call using your ATS. Pick up the phone and call them on the fly, chat for 5 minutes, and if it feels right schedule a more in depth call or interview.

By Jillian Rinehimer

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