When looking to enter into the world of work, it can be easy to think that exam results are the most important aspect of your job application. However, new research from British Gas has shown that soft skills and personality are the top attributes that the majority of business leaders look for when hiring.

Almost two-thirds of 16-25 year-olds believe that businesses are only interested in their academic grades when hiring, but research shows that nine in ten employers say that candidates should focus on soft skills just as much as their exam results.

It seems employers are looking for evidence of soft skills and a strong personality within candidates before they make a final decision as to whom they should hire. As a result, there is a real opportunity for graduates to increase their chances of employment if they can identify and develop soft skills such as an ability to manage or work in a team.

Benefit of volunteering

More than half of employers surveyed by British Gas say that they look for volunteering experience as evidence to support a candidate’s soft skills. Almost all (94%) of bosses believe that they can get strong results from employees who have volunteered in the past.

Aside from the obvious benefits of giving time to a worthy cause, volunteering has a wide range of benefits for your career which make it well worth considering. Not only can you add some practical experience to your CV but it can also ensure you relate better to customers and offer improved services.

Exposure to a wide range of core workplace activities including communication, teamwork and line management can set graduates apart in a highly competitive environment. Pippa Morgan, Head of Education and Skills at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which represents business leaders, believes employers are very clear about wanting to hire people with the right behaviours and attitude.

A candidate’s social skills

Employers are also shifting more focus on to a candidate’s social skills, and as a result are scouring the internet and social media profiles. More than a third of employers say they look at a job seeker’s profiles in order to gauge their personality before actually meeting them in person.

Despite social media playing a huge role in being successful in the job market, four in ten young people admit that their social media profiles are not ‘potential employer-ready’.

If you’re a graduate looking to kick-start your career, have a chat with Discovery Graduates and see how they can help get you started.