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Employers value attitude above qualifications and experience

Companies recruiting people under-25 place more importance on a candidate's attitude than their qualifications, according to a report by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).

The latest REC Job Outlook is based on a survey of 600 employers. It suggests 47% see attitude as the most important factor in selection, compared to 20% for level of qualification and 10% for professional experience.

Only 4% see grades achieved in specific exams as the most important factor when evaluating young candidates.

The report also reveals that 64% of employers have recruited at least one person under-25 within the past year.

REC director of policy and professional services Tom Hadley told HR magazine the figures are an encouraging sign that organisations are "increasingly willing to give young people a chance".

He added that focusing on more abstract qualities over grades and qualifications may force companies to think differently during their recruitment processes.

"If you can't just separate CVs out due to different grades it does present a challenge for employers," he said. "They will need to do a bit more digging to determine the qualities they are looking for. A lot of people talk about values-driven recruitment now and this certainly sits well with that approach."

REC chief executive Kevin Green added that now is the best time in six years for young people to be coming into the job market, but urged candidates to give a positive account of themselves to employers.

"Qualifications can be a good indicator of ability but our survey shows employers place a high value on attitude. Young people need to think about how they project a positive, can-do outlook when applying for jobs,” Green advised.