REC research reveals recruiters look beyond qualifications when hiring 

Employers put greater value on attitude than academic results when it comes to recruiting young people, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has found.

The results are part of the REC’s Jobs Outlook tracking survey, which asks employers about their hiring intentions for the next quarter and the next year.

Of the 200 employers surveyed, 47 per cent said that they considered attitude to be the most important factor when hiring a young person. A fifth said that the level of qualification the candidate had achieved was the most important factor, but only four per cent said that specific academic results, such as achieving a 2:1 degree classification, was most important to them.

These fresh findings are consistent with previous research from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills’ (UKCES) Employer Skills Survey 2013. It found more employers, 38 per cent, rejected young applicants because they lacked a professional hard-working attitude, compared with 29 per cent of employers who said young candidates were unsuccessful because they did not have the required qualifications.

The REC survey also found that almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of organisations had employed someone under 25 in the past year.

Additionally, the Office for National Statistics announced today that the number of NEETs (16 to 24 years olds not in education, employment or training) in April to June 2014 has fallen to 955,000, a drop of 138,000 from a year earlier. 

The REC survey also had positive news for the jobs market in general. The majority, 86 per cent, of employers said they plan to increase their permanent staff in the next three months and 79 per cent plan to increase their permanent staff in the next four to 12 months.

REC chief executive Kevin Green said: “It’s the best time in six years to be a young person coming into the jobs market. Employer hiring intentions are high and more employers are reaching capacity with their existing workforce and will have to take on new staff. 

“Qualifications can be a good indicator of ability but our survey shows employers place a high value on attitude. Our advice is young people need to think about how they project a positive, can-do attitude when applying for jobs.”

Katerina Rudiger, head of skills and policy campaigns at the CIPD, has been working on the Learning To Work programme, which helps tackle youth unemployment. She said: “Employers need to rethink their selection process to place greater emphasis beyond qualifications and help young people understand what that is, how to achieve it and demonstrate the right attitude.”