Time and time again we hear from graduates who get rejected after interviews. The reason? They’re not ‘polished’. But what does polished actually mean? Is it a hard or soft skill?
In this post ProjectSet explain the flaws of the polished graduate pursued by employers and why this demand is stopping graduates from having equal opportunities.
What do we mean by polished?
A term which is commonly defined as ‘expert and accomplished’, it’s no surprise that enthusiastic and well qualified graduates who’re turned down after interviews for an entry level position are feeling confused.
But when the ‘polished’ requirement can also be defined as polite and seemingly refined, it’s clear that the term has its problems. This interpretation implies that graduate employers are looking for ready-made business people who conform to a certain stereotype.
The problem with polished
It’s easy to see the problems that can occur with the use of ‘polished’ as a reason why applicants don’t land the job. This is because the term’s understood conventions are those commonly attributed to those belonging to the middle and upper classes.
So, the problem with looking for these kinds of graduates to fill roles is that it’s unknowingly causing favoritism for those from more privileged backgrounds for their roles, putting the ‘rich stay rich’ saying into action. This is clear to see in top-paying sectors such as banking, where 50% of leaders from the UK were privately educated.
With this term top of the person-specific requirement list with many leading graduate employers, equally qualified applicants from less-privileged who should be on an even playing field with those from middle and upper class upbringings are less likely to secure a role for lack of ‘polish’.
What employers can do to change
Being polished is a case of nurture, not nature. Unintentionally, top graduate employers are creating ideal candidate profiles and a line of succession which consists of middle to upper-class and from private education. With graduates having an understanding that landing the perfect job depends on your level of privilege and who you know, those deprived from these luxuries are being excluded.
But what can be done to change this? Employers need to focus on the hard evidence that applicants have the skills and enthusiasm to take the job, not whether they fit the fabricated ideal. Graduate roles give those who’ve attended university the stepping stones and hard skills needed for their career. Expecting to hire the final product is a close minded approach that completely undermines the developmental purpose of graduate employment schemes.
By focusing on what applicants have achieved and the road they’ve taken to get there and offering one-to-one mentoring for those who need additional support with invaluable work experience and interview practice, employers can gauge a clearer vision of applicants drive, ambition and determination—all skills that make a great employer.
For more information about how your company can help to level the playing field for graduates from all backgrounds and increase your employment diversity, contact ProjectSet today.