Career Advice for Job Seekers

What are employers looking for when they hire college and university students?

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Steven Rothberg AvatarSteven Rothberg
July 7, 2022


A common misconception amongst students and other job seekers is that every employer has a similar or even identical lists of attributes they need, want, don’t want, and can’t tolerate. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every role within every organization is different and what an employer may have wanted for a particular role a year ago could be quite different from what they want today.

That said, one of the most common attributes is experience. That can be quite frustrating to students because many of them believe that they don’t have experience. But they all do. They may not have been paid by another employer to do the same job, but if they’re applying to a job they likely feel that they can do it. So they should ask themselves why do they feel they can do the job and how can they best communicate that to a prospective employer who might only look at their resume / CV for a few seconds.

Have you taken classes or completed school-related projects related to the role to which you’re applying? Did a previous job, even one which was years ago and part-time, include any work experience which will help you be productive in this role? Do you have any relevant volunteer experience? 

If the answer to the above are all “no”, then you’re probably applying to a job prematurely. There’s nothing wrong and a lot right about aspiring to a role, but if you want to do more than merely aspire and, instead, land a role then work first on acquiring the experiences that you’ll need in order to convince the employer that you’re going to be a low risk hire: that you’ve done very similar work elsewhere, paid or unpaid. 

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