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Move up the Career ladder - What recruiters look for at different stages

Move up the Career ladder with
So you have bagged yourself a graduate position, with an average starting salary of £25,000 (Association of Graduate Recruiters) you should be smiling. But how long will you be content for in the same position? You may be wishing to move up the career ladder for one of many reasons – it may be the salary, challenge or the knowledge that you are progressing. A common test that both graduates and more senior positions are faced with in the recruitment process is the OPQ Personality Test. This post will explore what recruiters and talent assessment agencies are looking for in terms of personality traits, specifically for graduate and management roles and how you are expected to progress between these points.

What makes people employable?

According to researchers at the Higher Education Careers Service Unit (HECSU), when asked what makes a graduate ‘employable’? The majority of recruiters said that when hiring graduates, employability skills were more important than any occupational specific knowledge, technical skills or education. The two most common employability skills that recruiters look for is a positive attitude - an openness to new ideas and a ‘can-do’ approach and entrepreneurship/enterprise - which broadly speaking is someone who is not afraid to take risks and who is innovative and creative. These skills only become more sought after as one works their way up the career path as CEOs need to be enterprising in order to make money.

That said, talent agencies are specific about what traits they like to see in both these positions. Of course this varies according to the position being applied for, but detailed below are the general traits talent assessment agencies look for at graduate and management level sectioned into relationships with people, thinking style, feelings/emotions and working with others.


Interactions with people
In general, graduates are as happy as most to be influential. They are slightly more likely to stand by their own opinion, rather than follow the group consensus. They are reasonably sociable and have a general need to spend time with people. They are well-balanced in terms of being neither too outgoing nor quiet and feel a little more comfortable than most when meeting new people or in formal settings. They are moderately empathetic in terms of comfort with consultation and decision making. They are proud of their achievements and are willing to talk about them. However, they prefer to keep a professional distance from colleagues and are less prepared than others to interfere in others’ personal problems.

Thinking style
Graduates tend to enjoy analysis, working with facts and figures and critically evaluating arguments and information. But, they have less interest in understanding what drives people and in other people’s behaviour. They are slightly more creative than others and have a preference to think abstractly. They are slightly more likely to be consistent in their style with dealings across different situations. They are as happy to use their own ideas as the ideas others have generated and crave neither novelty nor a consistent routine. In terms of structure, they are very detail-orientated and tend to consider situations spontaneously rather than taking a long term strategic overview of issues. They are focused and see tasks through to completion and are balanced in terms of sticking to and breaking rules.

Feelings/ Emotions
Graduates are moderately anxious and are as easy to offend as the next person. They are very calm before important occasions and tend to keep their spirits up. They are likely to find it difficult to hide their emotions from their colleagues but are likely to view the motives of others with suspicion. They are driven, ambitious and highly value winning and performing better than others. They prefer to understand things before reaching conclusions and therefore tend to take their time when it comes to decision-making.

Working with others
In terms of working with others graduates prefer to focus on the task rather than the relationships with the people they are working with. Their strengths lie in planning, evaluating ideas and sustaining team productivity.


Interactions with People
Managers are prepared to be a leader when required and readily express their own opinions, criticising others in some circumstances. They are lively and enjoy talking about their own achievements. They are at ease in formal situations and when meeting new people and prefer to consult others when it comes to decision-making. They have an average interest in negotiating and have a slight tendency to go along with the group consensus. They are comfortable spending time alone and are very selective in giving support to or sympathising with colleagues.

Thinking Style
Managers are strongly inclined towards critically analysing information; they take strategic views and tend to think in the long-term. They are interested in new ways of working and prefer coming up with their own ideas. They are as interested as the next person in understanding the behaviours of people and in discussing abstract ideas. They are balanced in terms of seeking novelty and repetition in work and are as likely as anyone else to keep rules and regulations.

Feelings/ Emotions
Managers are optimistic and work well in a competitive environment. They are averagely sensitive to criticism and are balanced with their emotions in terms of being open or keeping things to themselves. They are generally slightly tense in their work-life, but are less anxious than most when preparing for important events. They are unlikely to rely on the ability of others and are more cautious than others when making decisions.

Working with others
In general managers are competitive and like to do out-do others even if it means hurting their feelings. They provide well thought-out solutions and come up with radical, creative ideas. They strive for recognition and are reluctant to delegate to others.

Start Making Your Move up the Career Ladder

When looking to move up the career ladder you will often be asked to take a recruiter personality test, or recruiters will look for certain traits at interview. It is important to research the position you are applying for and to be aware of the traits the recruiter is looking for. JobTestPrep offers a customised Situational Judgement and Personality Test pack - our Personality Test provides feedback for each trait and will tell you which traits you need to work on (or restrain) according to which position you are applying for. The Situational Judgement Test can bring a better understanding of the competencies expected at these stages. Try a free sample Personality Test with JobTestPrep.

~ JobTestPrep Team ~