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Good Employees Need More Than Good Marks - MCI Institute

Posted by Megan Hauptfleisch on 27/07/2016

Whether through late-night study sessions, or arguing with a marker over their criteria by which you got Question 28 Part A wrong, securing good marks is the main motivator for high school and undergraduate education.

This makes sense: university applications are pretty strict on the marks required for admittance. But does it make sense to have this attitude beyond high school?

Does a focus on good marks make much sense beyond high school?

Ben Reeves, head of the Australian Association of Graduate Employers (AAGE), told The Financial Review that students are going about this the wrong way, at least as it applies to entering the workforce.

“Getting into university depends on grades but getting into a job post-graduation depends on a range of other factors,” Reeves told the Review earlier this year. Practical skills like “leadership, communication skills, problem solving, and customer service are some of the attributes that employers look for when recruiting.”

Quite often, good marks achieved as an undergraduate don’t necessarily reflect a candidate has these characteristics to a potential employer. Of course, employers want smart employees, but sheer academic ability is not enough of an indicator by itself for an employer to be confident in a hiring decision.

As such, complex recruitment processes are being set up to more keenly assess a candidate’s suitability for a position that extends well beyond what they’re academic statement reads.

Academic ability is not enough of an indicator by itself for an employer to be confident in a hiring decision.

Increasingly, employers are utilising group exercises and personality tests as a way to gauge what a potential employee might bring to a role, over and above their degree.

As Reeves told the Review, these activities can include “video interviewing, aptitude tests, personality profiles, group discussions, and presentations.”

As well as executive skills like leadership and communication skills, potential employers more than ever want to ascertain if a potential candidate will fit culturally into their company. Reeves to the Review again: “Cultural fit is the criteria that is most commonly assessed by employers.”

“Cultural fit is the criteria that is most commonly assessed by employers”

With each workplace being their own cocktail of influences, culture is critically important. A candidate that fits makes good business sense: they can immediately begin to meaningfully contribute to the organisation.

As important as cultural fit is experience. Whether that even specifically be within the industry the company is from - be that entry-level retail or hospitality - employers want to see a candidate’s desire to join the professional sphere.

Extracurricular experience - be it sport, music, writing, or volunteering - also factor in. These experiences only enrich you as a candidate, proving you have something unique to offer a company.

A unique perspective is also highly desirable for employers. Tanyth Lloyd, national talent acquisition and mobility director at Deloitte, told the Review that “our clients pay us to bring a point of view and provide solutions so we look to tap into people’s though processes early.” Lloyd admitted that candidates ought to “bring a point of view - whether right or wrong - to show they can think for themselves.”

A lot of companies in the service sector literally don’t have  products to sell so their people, their staff, are their central differentiating factor.

A lot of companies in the service sector literally don’t have  products to sell so their people, their staff, are their central differentiating factor.

Ensuring that staff is skilled, in-line with the company, and filled with strong perspectives is, for a lot of companies, more important than having a bunch of employees that know how to ace a test.

Reeves’ advice to potential candidates is that experience and extracurricular involvement is key to producing a candidate employers want.

“If you look at two different candidates, for candidate one perhaps all they have done for three or four years at university is study and get good marks.

“Candidate two’s marks may not be quite as good but if they have done different things - been a captain of a club, travelled around the world, been on a student exchange program, done some volunteering - candidate two is far more attractive to an employer.”

Source: The Financial Review

Topics: Article, first steps, general, high school, jobs, MCI Live

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