Work Ready Guide

As you start thinking about life after university, you may ask yourself the inevitable question: where to now? Professionals Australia’s Work Ready Guide gives you a plan and plenty of useful tips for finding that first position and making sure you get started on the right foot.

Job hunting is a series of steps; each step needs to be carefully completed so that you have the opportunity to proceed to the next.
These steps include:

  • assessing yourself and deciding on potential areas of employment (Chapter 1);
  • understanding what employers are looking for (Chapter 1);
  • planning and implementing your approach to job hunting (Chapter 2);
  • preparing your resume and covering letters (Chapter 3);
  • securing and preparing for interviews (Chapter 4);
  • considering the job offer, obtaining advice, and signing a contract (Chapter 5).

Basically, the whole job hunting process is a selling or marketing exercise with you as the product. To make a successful sale, you have to know your product and believe in it, before you can expect anyone else to be persuaded of its merits. So lets begin.

What Employers are Looking for in Graduates

Any student or recent graduate looking for employment should be asking the question: What are employers looking for in graduates?

Professionals Australia surveyed large and small employers to come up with some answers to this question. The qualities listed below will help you present yourself in the best possible light to prospective employers.

Assessing Yourself

There are some important issues to consider in preparation for your job search. Taking the time to establish your areas of greatest interest, as well as making an honest assessment of your own capabilities will bring you closer to identifying the kinds of positions you should be seeking. The self-knowledge gained through this process also means that you are more likely to secure a position that will be satisfying and enjoyable.

Questions to consider include:

  • What are my skills?
  • What are my personal attributes?
  • What makes me employable?
  • What employment is available to someone with my skills, qualifications and interests?
  • Can, and do I want to relocate? (city, country or overseas)
  • From my past what would I like to repeat or avoid in the future?
  • When am I happiest or most comfortable and why?
  • What environments do I find stimulating?
  • What sort of people interest me?
  • What have I learnt from mistakes Ive made?
  • What am I good at?
  • What are my personal values?
  • What sort of a person am I?

Genuine Interest

All employers look for good university results, which of course is not surprising. But more than a few employers indicated that they wanted graduates who were genuinely interested in their chosen profession. It appears that some students undertake courses primarily because of job and salary prospects.


Your genuine interest in the position should be immediately apparent to the employer. From the employers point of view, they want to be sure that a decision to employ you will be a wise investment. Your resume and covering letter, geared specifically towards the job you are applying for, should demonstrate this enthusiasm.

Communication and Social Skills

Employers have a preference for graduates who display good communication and social skills. So for starters, make sure your covering letter and resume are word perfect. Be conscious of how you present yourself over the telephone and at interviews, making a conscious effort to be confident, polite and articulate.


For many employers your willingness to move where the position takes you is an important criterion for selection.

Practical People

While some employers place more importance on potential, other employers, particularly smaller ones, may be more interested in practical and relevant experience. These employers are also interested to see whether you have an appreciation of business constraints. In practice this means understanding the balance between factors such as clients needs, efficiency, time constraints, costs and profits.


Many employers are also looking for maturity and leadership potential. In hiring graduates, employers are hiring their future managers people who will be managing and leading other employees as well as dealing with clients and customers.

As well as seeking graduates with potential, employers prefer graduates who possess career aspirations. Employers want their employees to maximise their value to the organisation by progressing and developing themselves. It is important to indicate a strong desire to develop your skill base the hard work does not stop at university.

Work Experience

Employers of new graduates want to see what relevant work experience you have, as well as what other general employment experience you have gained. Work experience of any sort is an important consideration for what it may convey about the candidate. Employers will be looking for evidence of attributes such as dependability, initiative, and willingness to work.

Critical Thinking

One of the most interesting things employers are looking for is critical thinking. Effectively, critical thinking is about applying the intellectual skills you have developed at university to the real world. It is about critically analysing and thinking issues through, anticipating problems and finding practical solutions. It also means having the common sense and confidence to use these skills effectively in the workplace.

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