June 5, 2013, by Guest blogger

It’s more about your skills than your degree subject

Your degree subject isn’t the most important thing on your application, says graduate recruiter Richard Waite from Grant Thornton.

Having been a graduate recruiter for the last six year it’s fair to say I have seen my fair share of great applications, and the not so great. When I meet a candidate out on campus or in a recruitment process the key things I look for are passion, enthusiasm and motivation to the role and the organisation. We appreciate that students are often submitting multiple applications, but attention to detail and research are important. Time spent on an application will always be worthwhile. Due to the large volumes we deal with generally as graduate recruiters making sure your application is focused, tailored and well structured is essential.

There are a lot of things I look for in an application. Degree subject is not one of them. We recruit graduates from all degree backgrounds. What’s much more important than the area of study is the result achieved and how you can demonstrate what you were studying has equipped you with skills you will take forward into a career. All degree subjects require some level of research skills, analysing information, working in groups effectively, presenting information in a way which makes it clear for others. The important aspect of any application is understanding these skills and how they’re relevant for the job to which you’re applying.

Skills acquired outside of your studies are also important. Have you been part of a society? Had a part time job? Involved with a sports team? Done voluntary work? All of these activities show that you’ve stretched yourself, put yourself in positions where you acquire new skills and developed yourself outside a purely academic space.

Work experience is really important. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be relevant work experience. It’s about being able to talk about any work experience and the skills you have acquired and used and applying those to a new role. What skills did you pick up that will make you great for the graduate role you’re applying to? I’ve yet to come across an example of work experience that is not useful or relevant – it’s just how you can join the dots and focus it for the role you’re applying to now.

We hire lots of graduates from the University of Nottingham and lots of those come from what some may call ‘non-relevant’ degree backgrounds for a career in accountancy. All the hires we make from Nottingham are always really bright, switched on with the aptitude for learning which means they pick up the skills we require really quickly once they join us.

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