Your Business Needs People With Skills, Not Just Qualifications

Simon Davies

New graduates have a huge amount of potential for businesses: They are ready to mold, offer new perspectives to the company, and are more affordable than candidates with experience. New hires fresh out of university tend to learn quickly and can provide more immediate financial returns.

While hiring someone with hard skills in the industry—the specific knowledge and abilities required to do a particular job—may sound like a good strategy, soft skills are just as important to be successful in any role.

Graduates are more likely to have soft skills that can benefit a business

Soft skills are much more difficult to define and measure, but they make up interpersonal, or “people” skills, and focus on personality traits. Some soft skills to look for in new hires include adaptability, problem solving, critical observation, conflict resolution, written and verbal communication, and the ability to act as a team player.

Graduates have just come from a learning background and are often more likely to be a team player than someone joining your business from another company. Working effectively with other team members will help new hires settle in quickly and easily, which will lead to quicker financial returns. Candidates who are flexible in their learning and who can can adapt quickly to new situations is also another soft skill you should look for.

While it may sound obvious that new hires must be able to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing, a recent study on graduate recruitment from PayScale found that many new hires were lacking in writing proficiency. Out of 63,924 managers polled, 44 percent said graduates lacked quality writing skills. In addition, 39 percent of managers found their new hires lacked public speaking skills, which are intrinsic to most roles.

However, recent graduates are also more likely to take on constructive criticism and accept feedback. Having just come from an independent learning background, they are more willing to learn and can pick up on new processes quickly and efficiently.

More qualified graduates than ever before

Small businesses, startups, and scale-ups can benefit from investing in graduate recruitment, especially when they have more choice in the number of graduates. According to graduate recruitment experts Instant Impact, there are more dedicated and qualified graduates actively looking for jobs than ever before, and businesses can benefit from the competitiveness of job-hunting graduates. That means they can afford to be more selective when searching for new hires to get the right candidate for the business.

Graduates with the right skill sets will benefit small businesses looking to scale up, as they can offer new perspectives to problems and contribute new ideas to the business. On top of this, many graduates are actively looking to begin their career at a small business. Of 9,000 students recently polled, 63 percent were looking to start their career, and 37 percent of these said they wanted to work for an SME, compared to 29 percent who were considering a large employer.

Apprenticeship levy allows business to hire with an emphasis on soft skills

More employers are now looking to rebrand their graduate schemes in favour of apprenticeships as a direct response to the introduction of the apprenticeship levy. BPP Professional Education polled leading organisations, mainly in engineering, financial services, law, and accountancy sectors, and found that 53 percent planned to turn graduates into apprentices. This is to ensure they can reclaim the payroll tax that funds the levy, letting them benefit from the additional financial support from the government.

The apprenticeship levy allows businesses to recruit graduates without losing money from direct hiring, while also giving graduates the opportunity to kick-start their careers. Apprenticeships also let businesses train and mold new hires to suit the needs of the business. Graduates have developed a habit for learning and are open to new ideas and ways of working, and won’t have developed any bad habits that may come from previous experience.

Which industries hold the most opportunity for recent grads? Read This Industry Could Be A Boon For Young Job Seekers.

About Simon Davies

Simon Davies is a London-based freelance writer with an interest in startup culture, issues, and solutions. He works explores new markets and disruptive technologies and communicates those recent developments to a wide, public audience. Simon is also a contributor at,, and Follow Simon @simontheodavies on Twitter.