You’ve Graduated. Now What?



Being one of the millions of college graduates seeking their first full-time job this year means that you’ll have to find creative ways to be noticed. Some employers may underestimate your recent degree and limited experience. Others will seek out your youthful attitude and fresh perspective. 

While there are 12 key Unicorn Traits that exemplary employees can excel in, our research shows that employers are looking for three traits in particular from college graduates.

The Self-Aware  – Standing Out in the Crowd

If there’s one criticism we hear about the “kids these days,” it’s that many have blind spots, at best, and are completely oblivious, at worst. And it’s understandable. As a young adult, you can’t possibly have the breadth of experience that helps develop self-awareness. But the sooner you can start cultivating this trait, the better. 

Understanding your strengths, weaknesses, and how you fit within a team allows you to present yourself holistically in an interview. Your ability to articulate your experience and your desire to grow will be noticed. Approach interviews with a plan for how you will communicate self-awareness. Be prepared to share your humility, what you hope to grow in, and how your strengths help to balance your weaknesses.

Employers know self-awareness will translate well into the workplace. A self-aware employee is more likely to take constructive criticism, collaborate with a team, and apply their strengths effectively. If you can demonstrate your self-awareness, you are more likely to land and keep a job that suits you well.

The Solvers – Solution-Driven Champions

You might feel a temptation to play a more passive role as the newcomer. Remember that your education and experiences you gained along the way prepared you for this job. Realize that your youth and perspective are highly valuable. You can be a solver as a college graduate by showing initiative despite your lack of experience. 

As a solver, you don’t just identify problems; you actively seek out solutions. You suggest them and make them happen. This mindset makes you an indispensable team member who can drive projects forward and overcome obstacles. Employers seek individuals like you who can think critically to find effective solutions, making you highly sought after as a solver.

The Curious – The Power of Listening

Being curious in the workplace looks like being eager to learn from others and asking insightful questions. By actively listening to your peers and mentors, you gain valuable insights and perspectives, which you can then use to contribute meaningfully to team projects. Your curiosity fosters collaboration, as you’re open to different ideas and viewpoints, making you more able to work well in diverse teams. Your more experienced co-workers will be comforted by the impression that you want to learn from their wisdom and expertise. Remember, you can (and should) still show confidence in your skills and experience while expressing humility about what you have yet to learn.

These are just three of the 12 traits that can make any candidate stand out. To learn more about how to become a unicorn candidate or employee in the midst of more seasoned colleagues, check out William Vanderbloemen’s new book, Be the Unicorn.