It’s not your degree or the school you attended that is going to win over potential employers. Of the top factors that hiring managers look for in new hires, having graduated from a specific university actually ranks last.

As a part of their 2020 Outlook survey, Universum conducted 2338 interviews with employers in 18 countries to determine pattern in what they look for in talent.

The report, Talent Inside Out reveals that the reasons why people succeed at a company is only partially because of their technical skills and other measurable qualifications. Other more essential factors can be just as critical but far more elusive.

These include a candidate’s work ethic and values, their motivation and drive, among other things. Employers have long talked about the importance of cultural fit within an organization. However, this new research shows that above and beyond ‘fit,’ character matters – your personality profile.

In a job market – especially for competitive areas where talent shortages are emerging – companies can provide training and teach the required technical skills. It’s much more difficult to adapt personality traits and soft skills.

However, the most important factor of all that employers look for in new hires is their on-the-job accomplishments. What they have actually done in the past as indicators of their future potential.

“We are moving more toward a meritocracy society where you’re measured on your accomplishments rather than your grades and school of choice,” Universum CEO Petter Nylander, told Business Insider. “Recruiting individuals based on specific skills is less important than recruiting someone with great potential.”

The six factors employers care the most about in new hires (in order)

  • Work experience
  • Personality profile
  • Communications skills
  • Cultural fit
  • Leadership experience
  • Degree from a specific university


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You can download the full report from Universum here.


Peter Harris

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