Skills and competencies

How do you know you have the potential to succeed in a graduate role at an innovative technology firm?

21 Jun 2023, 15:41

Employers often say they don’t want ‘cookie cutter candidates’ but what do they mean? What Accenture looks for is potential, not perfection. Recruiter Clare Johnson explains how companies are benefiting from a different train of thought.

Demonstrate your potential for Accenture

Have you ever talked yourself out of applying for a job, thinking you might not have what it takes to make the grade? Have you ever tried to second-guess what an employer wants to see at a graduate assessment? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, it’s time to shift your perspective and hear some myth-busting facts about post-covid recruitment. What you might think of as ticking the ‘potential’ box is not necessarily what recruiters are watching out for, especially now.

‘Demonstrating potential is about being prepared, forward thinking or working out how you’d deal with a certain situation,’ says Clare, adding that we all have potential to change the future; it’s our approach that is different.

Show your enthusiasm

Regardless of your past experience, background or education, if the prospect of working at the forefront of technology genuinely excites you, Accenture is excited right back. Show your passion for technology or your enthusiasm for artificial intelligence, exhibit a penchant for coding or an aptitude for apps and you could be a perfect match for this future-thinking company.

‘There is no prototype that we’d like you to fit into,’ says Clare. ‘All our assessments are designed to draw out your natural strengths and the potential you might have to perform in a certain role.’

While many openings do require the kind of traits you’d associate with a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) degree, Clare and her colleagues are also looking out for softer skills. In a blog to highlight the shift in recruiters’ outlook, she mentions an openness to constructive criticism, self-awareness and a growth mindset among the top traits you can build on.

How do employers find candidates with these qualities in practice, and how can candidates display them?

‘We want to make sure that you are able to be your true self and you can let your natural strengths shine through. Don’t focus on what you think we might like to hear and don’t second-guess yourself; your natural response is what we want to know more about,’ says Clare.

So, you might be asked to explain how you would resolve a certain situation, how you go about building relationships or how you’d cope with wifi going wrong at a critical point in a project. ‘We’re looking to recruit diversely so it’s never going to go against you if you show us your natural response to what a situation might be,’ Clare says.

Preparing for success is part of the process

Across targetjobs you’ll see advice about researching the company and the role you’re applying for, and finding out about the kind of projects that a company is already involved in. But the ‘why’ question is popping up more often. ‘Why us?’ helps recruiters distinguish between the kind of candidate that applies for everything vaguely within their field and the one who is prepared to bring their all to a company.

In other ways, you may have demonstrated your potential even if that wasn’t your original purpose. For example, if you’ve plugged away at your master’s thesis in computing, Accenture will be pleased to hear from you, but equally, if you’ve shown a dogged dedication to paying your way through uni, showing up for shifts at a supermarket for three years while you’ve studied, that will be a plus point in recruiters’ minds.

Look for help and tap into it

There are dedicated teams to support candidates through the application journey and plenty of online help – for example, weekly digital chat sessions offering support and answering questions, and clarification at different stages of an application. Look for information on a company’s website (some also have dedicated careers sites), and read interviews with current employees to improve your understanding.

‘We post blogs that are relevant and recent, written by analysts and interns, not just people in managerial roles,’ says Clare. ‘You will see relatable posts from people and our current Accenture LIVE series is about people sharing their experiences. We do informal Q&A sessions – for example, “How to ace an application” – and we even have analysts in the waiting rooms in between assessments so you can chat in real time and ask them for insights into their experience.’

When it comes to showing off your potential, do your homework and make sure you understand Accenture as far as you are able and that you know about the specific programme you’ve applied for. Then focus on your own powers and qualities, advises Clare.

‘We will be the judge of whether the candidate has got the skill or not,’ she says. ‘So many people in the business come in from a non-tech background and have gone on to become managing directors who are thriving here.’

That’s an end goal, but the future starts with the potential you may not know you have. Will Accenture have the key to unlock it?

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