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What to Look for When Assessing Graduates

Today’s graduates bring clear strengths to the workforce, but it is also important to understand what support they need to succeed.

Today’s graduates are entering the workplace with clear strengths in taking initiative and assuming responsibility, creative thinking to solve problems, and analyzing data to make informed recommendations and decisions. These skills provide an excellent foundation for the digital proficiency needed in today’s work context1 where the ability to deal with masses of complex data, contextualize it appropriately and draw informed conclusions will be key.

However, they are often lacking:

The ability and experience to work together effectively as a team, or to persuade others

The increased interdependence of work and stronger emphasis on the customer experience (regardless of industry) requires employees with the capability to develop productive relationships, collaborate, and influence others to boost overall performance.  

For graduates with limited, or no, work experience, immersion in the world of work will create more opportunities to hone these skills and learn from colleagues. The key is to select graduates with higher potential to develop these key relationship-building and collaboration skills at the outset.

For graduates with limited, or no, work experience, immersion in the world of work will create more opportunities to hone these skills and learn from colleagues.

Confidence and self-sufficiency

The ability to adapt quickly, particularly in today’s fast-moving digital landscape, is critical to success. New graduate hires need assistance in building resilience to change and uncertainty. This is especially true amidst today’s challenging pandemic circumstances, whether staff are remote or back in offices. 54% of graduates described transitioning from college to the professional world as “Everything’s a struggle”, “Exhausted”, “Lost”, “Anxious”.2

New graduate hires also need help connecting the dots between commercial priorities and personal contributions to drive business outcomes. Give clear guidance on your organizational mission and values to link to the graduate’s own sense of values and purpose to provide a sense of constancy in high-change environments.

Making the transition from college to work is not easy, but the more you understand your graduates’ strengths, the better you’ll be able to support them and help them build resilience.

Contact us to learn more about how you can harness the promise of these aspiring leaders and build a system of support in which they will flourish.



SHL, Talent in Digital Era, 2019.


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Donna Weiss

Donna Weiss heads our Global Graduate and Managerial Solutions from our U.S. based Arlington, Virginia office. She has steered talent acquisition product initiatives since 2015, guiding the product development and growth of innovative hiring solutions that help companies hire the best talent. Prior to SHL, Donna spent over a decade at CEB, now Gartner creating HR product offerings and overseeing lines of business that serve Recruiting, Learning, and Talent Management executives and their teams. Prior to joining CEB, Donna held brand management and consumer and market insight roles at Unilever, and Marketing and Planning Systems (MaPS), now part of Kantar. She has been quoted and published in various publications including Talent Management Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Journal of Corporate Recruiting, and Chief Learning Officer magazine. Both her bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Labor Relations and MBA are from Cornell University.

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