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Jobs after college

4 Things Employers Want Young Job Seekers to Know

As a recent graduate exploring jobs after college, you’re probably tired of seeing the same-old, generic job descriptions that always ask for the same, completely ambiguous skills.

“Must have top-notch communication skills.”

I can speak, listen, write and read. Does that count?

“We’re looking for a rock-star that can come in and hit the ground running.”

Does that mean leather pants are required?

“Must be a go-getter with a results-driven attitude.”

Go-getter? What exactly are you “going to get”? Coffee?

Look, of course, these companies mean well with these job descriptions. Chances are, any forward-thinking company looking to hire entry-level talent can easily define what makes a “rock-star” or “go-getter.” 

However, you’re a recent graduate – likely with little to no interviewing experience – and sometimes the laundry list of qualifications companies include in their job descriptions can be pretty intimidating. 

Which is exactly why we’ve put together this post for you. The Vocate team knows how tough it can be to get a read on the skills companies look for when hiring for jobs after college. If you find yet another job description asking for a “self-starter” and feel like you could use some guidance, read on.

Here are the Top 4 Things Employers Expect You to Know In Order to Get Hired

#1. You Don’t Know Anything…Yet. 

Yes, this does sound like a bit of a contradiction from the title of this post. 

The truth is, though, that employers value a humble recent graduate that recognizes he or she still has a lot to learn far more than a misdirected young person who thinks you need to know it all to get hired. 

If you read the post we recently published on why it’s important to have a “learn before you earn” attitude about your first job after college, you probably know this already; companies specifically want to hire recent graduates with an appetite for learning. The combination of big ambition, small egos, and general flexibility are equally appealing to startups and Fortune 500 companies alike.

So, don’t be afraid to admit you don’t really know anything yet; no one expects it of you. Instead, tell employers that you know you have a lot of learning to do (and you couldn’t be more excited about learning from their company). 

#2. A Growth Mindset is the Only Mindset

There have been a couple posts on the Vocate blog recently highlighting what a growth mindset can do for you in your career. (In case you missed them, here’s the first one and the most recent.)

Needless to say, the Vocate team believes in Carol Dweck’s philosophy of the power behind maintaining a growth mindset, especially as a recent graduate. Businesses of all sizes specifically target graduates with big goals and a vision for where they want to take their career. 

A growth mindset is an essential attribute that every company will be looking for as you start exploring jobs after college. Not only should you consider reading one of Dweck’s books, but take time before you start interviewing to really map out some big goals for your career. Once you have those, break them down into smaller goals and share your most immediate ones with hiring managers during interviews. 

#3. The Value and Importance of Developing Soft Skills

Most of your college education focuses on the development of “hard” skills – like the languages in which you can code, your knowledge base of industry trends and best practices, and the software you know how to use well. 

That practical knowledge means a lot to companies hiring entry-level talent. Increasingly, businesses are putting an emphasis on hiring based on “soft” skills – like time management, ability to collaborate, and even humor – for jobs after college.


It's because hard skills can be taught to people with the right combination of soft skills. It all comes back to that knowledge piece from earlier; hiring managers don’t expect you to know it all. In fact, they want you to come in relatively fresh so that you’re better able to adapt to their process flow. 

However, they do expect you to have the attitude of someone who could one day be a future all-star. That’s where those soft skills can really shine through. You may not know how to code in Python yet, but if you’re great working in a team setting and have tremendous listening skills, you might still be a smart hire considering the Python skill set can be taught later.

#4. Complacency Won’t Work at Work

There are more entrepreneurs operating in the world today than ever before in history. However, not all of them are out there starting their own businesses. Today, “intrapreneurship” is a critical component of what helps small businesses continue to grow and big businesses continue to thrive. 

Whether you have goals of building a business (internally or externally) or not, companies want to hire recent graduates with the mindset of someone who strives for something bigger. Part of it is that growth mindset mentioned earlier, but it also extends beyond that. 

An entrepreneurial mind is one that intelligently questions everything and loves a good challenge. You should be cautious, yet fearless, at the same time. You’re resourceful and not afraid to fail. And most of all, you want to have an impact on something bigger than yourself. You align to a mission, value, or goal that’s about a bigger aspiration than personal growth. It’s about leaving your stamp on something great.

To be clear, that doesn’t need to be a business. It can be a fruitful career that allows you the flexibility to travel the world or even something personal like starting a family and being a great parent. The point is, you aspire toward something bigger and actively take steps in your life to work toward your goals. That’s the entrepreneurial mindset. And that’s what companies want from their entry-level talent.


Now that you know exactly what employers are looking for, it’s time to actually find a job! That’s where Vocate can help. Vocate works with thousands of companies looking to hire recent graduates into entry-level jobs after college. Check out Vocate today to get started on finding your dream job. 

Zack Andresen

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