What is the difference between a good graduate application and an outstanding one? What should you focus on in your cover letter to make you really stand out from the rest of the crowd? Here are the most outstanding aspects of a graduate application from the employer's point of view that will help you shape your next application.

Last week, we published 10 Most Important Selection Criteria When Recruiting Graduates in 2014 from the Graduate Outlook 2013 - Graduate Careers Australia’s annual report on graduate recruitment practices and trends in Australasia. The survey examines the current perspectives of graduate recruiters to present a focused and meaningful overview of the graduate recruitment labour market.

Today, we look at the outstanding aspects of a graduate application, submitted by employers and HR representatives in 2013. Passion/knowledge of industry/drive’ has been identified as the most outstanding aspect of a graduate application according to participating employers. Almost two-thirds of employers place considerable value on these attributes of a potential graduate employee. It is no surprise that employers can distinguish a genuine interest compared to a generic positive statement. 

Outstanding graduates require a combination of strong academic results along with involvement in extracurricular activities. They need to be self-starters, thrive on solving problems and have the ability to learn and be coached. They must also demonstrate career ambition and good communication skills...
Good communication skills, sound technical knowledge (for technical roles), professional attitude, constant learner, not afraid to ask questions and actually retains the knowledge, researched the company and role...
Hunger to think outside the box and build a career that is sustainable despite peer trends...

Employers nominated ‘Calibre of academic results’ to be the second most outstanding aspect of a graduate application. Strong academic performance generally translate to strong problem-solving and reasoning skills on the job, which means the employee is more likely to learn more quickly.  ‘Application tailored to the position’ was a commonly nominated response, with approximately one-third of those responding to the question indicating its importance in making a graduate application outstanding. This was closely followed by ‘Interpersonal and communication skills’ and ‘Emotional intelligence’. Other notable aspects included, ‘Professional demeanour and integrity’, ‘Teamwork skills’, and ‘Can offer a spark to the organisation’.


Outstanding aspects of a Graduate Application

  1. Passion/ Knowledge of industry/ Drive/ Commitment/ Attitude/ Willingness to learn/Enthusiasm/ Motivation
  2. Calibre of Academic Results (and achievements) 
  3. Application tailored to the position  
  4. Interpersonal & Communication Skills (written and oral) 
  5. Emotional intelligence ( self-awareness, strength of character) 
  6. Work Experience (relevant)  
  7. Activities - includes both intra - and extra-curricular (community involvement) 
  8. Technical skills/ Critical reasoning & analtical skills / Problem solving / Lateral thinking
  9. Cultural alignment/ Values fit 
  10. Leadership and Entrepreneurship Skills/initiative
  11. Can offer a spark to the organisation
  12. Teamwork skills
  13. Professional demeanour and integrity