As many students close the books on their educational pursuits and prepare their resumes for life in the workforce, a BMO Bank of Montreal survey released today shows personality traits outrank both credentials and education for many employers who are looking to hire new graduates.

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Half (51%) of Canadian businesses plan to hire students or recent graduates this year. The BMO report ranks the traits on which business owners tend to place the largest importance when assessing junior job candidates who come directly out of school.

The report revealed:

  • Personality traits top the list for employers, with one-third (30%) ranking this as the most important quality
  • Skill set is second on the list, with one-quarter of employers (26%) making this their top priority
  • Work experience ranks third, with only 15% citing it as the most important trait
  • References and recommendations (8%) and degree earned/school attended (3%) rank at the bottom of the list

“Employment among those in the graduate age range of 20-24 has trended moderately higher since the recession,” said Sal Guatieri, senior economist, BMO Capital Markets. “For popular summer jobs such as those in tourism, students or graduates might see less opportunity this summer due to the strong loonie, and Canadian shoppers keeping a tighter grip on their wallets. However, the expected upturn in U.S. demand should have a positive impact on Canada’s economy and job prospects.”

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The report also looked at how these traits rank among employers in the service and manufacturing sectors, and found:

  • Skill set ranks highest among employers in the manufacturing sector while degree earned ranks lowest (37% and 1% respectively);
  • Surprisingly, the manufacturing sector places more importance on personality traits than does the service sector (31% and 28% respectively)
  • For employers in Canada’s service sector, the personality traits of a new graduate will hold twice as much sway as their skill set (28% versus 16%)

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