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What to Look for When Hiring a Recent College Graduate

Recently we wrote about why you shouldn’t limit your sales search to top tier schools. Widening your search will certainly expand your talent pool, but it also creates a little more work filtering candidates. Here we want to highlight who and what to look for as those resumes stack up.

Let’s start with what you know, or, what you think you know: GPAs.

A GPA on a resume is not the be-all, end-all. For many candidates fresh out of college, it’s a number they try to flash, or hide, based on the weight they think it carries in their application.

But just because a student has a high GPA, doesn’t necessarily mean their performance in the classroom will translate to a sales floor. Similarly, if a student has a slightly lower GPA, it won’t necessarily translate to their quality of work now that they are out of the dorms and into the real world.

Although it may seem like an easy, quantifying place to start on a resume (two thirds of employers use this as a screening process) you may want to take a scan over the resume as a whole before you fixate on the GPA. It's important to keep in mind that GPAs on resumes are taken out of context and created in an academic environment rather than a professional field.

If not GPA, what should you look for in the resume?

Eagerness to learn

Whether your potential new hire is 21 or 31, freshly post-grad or a little more experienced, a candidate can always learn more. In fact, since every company works differently, they’ll probably have to learn more to succeed at yours.

 

This means that a resume that explicitly advertises the desire to learn more is a good sign. Other good signs are involvement with different campus groups or certifications in other areas. Whether it’s an online coding class, CPR, or something more recreational, the point is that the candidate has a penchant for picking up new skills.

Ability to explain a complex issue

This is a good skill to have for sales, but it also translates to leadership, collaboration,

and presentation capabilities. Patience, competence, and how a candidate perceives information are also hidden under this umbrella. These are all desirable qualities for your new candidate.

Tech-savviness

Although it may seem like tech is just built into our culture these days, not everyone is necessarily tech-savvy. Just because a candidate spends eight hours a day on a computer and touches their phone 2,617 times a day, that doesn’t mean they are fluent in the technological skills that are relevant to your company.

Microsoft Office products are a given with college grads, so you'll want to look a little deeper. Keep any eye out for basic skills in things like social media advertising and marketing, web development (even a simple site built on a website builder), or running and teaching systems for a family business or college job.

All of these indicate that your candidate will be tech-savvy enough to pick up your sales team's tech stack, like a CRM or an email outreach tool.

Energetic

We’re not saying to look for someone saying, “I performed skill 1, 2, and 3 with high energy.” Instead, read for energetic tone in the resume, indicated by the use of active words and concise, "snappy" explanations. In many cases a cover letter or introductory phone call gives you a better feel for energy than a resume.

Take it offline

Our last but perhaps most notable recommendation is that if you have any doubt about any of these skills that may translate to a candidate’s performance at your company, take the search off paper and call them.

 

If you’re just testing for energy, don’t schedule a call using your ATS. Pick up the phone and call them on the fly, chat for 5 minutes, and if it feels right schedule a more in-depth call or interview.

Our last but perhaps most notable recommendation is that if you have any doubt about any of these skills that may translate to a candidate’s performance at your company, take the search off paper and call them.

If you’re just testing for energy, don’t schedule a call using your ATS. Pick up the phone and call them on the fly, chat for 5 minutes, and if it feels right schedule a more in-depth call or interview.

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