What is Your “Hire Score”?

By Karen Kowal

I often see college students who do not have a good understanding of what employers seek when they hire students after graduation. I have developed a very simple assessment for use with students to help them prepare, called “What is Your Hire Score?” This can be used with incoming students at orientation, to make them aware of their chances of getting a job before they graduate. More specifically, this tool will help to outline what they can do, or should be doing, to build their skills, resume, and brand image throughout their college career.


Calculating the “Hire Score”

The assessment consists of eight basic elements that make an applicant attractive to a company. Points, both positive and negative, are assigned, corresponding to the importance of each element. These elements include:

  • a strong GPA
  • participation in a society or club on campus
  • having a job or, better yet, a relevant internship during college
  • holding a leadership role
  • having a good social media brand image
  • developing networking skills
  • preparing an excellent resume
  • good interviewing skills
  • Bonus Points for a good hand shake.

While demonstrating these elements does not guarantee being hired into a job, they are the foundation of what is needed to get the attention of a hiring leader and increase the chance of receiving an invitation for an interview. The final element, which is the interview, includes “behavior” and what may be called “chemistry”. This is a reflection of the student’s or applicant’s personality and is a critical factor in the decision making of a hiring manager. This element is often hard to predict, given every hiring leader is as different and unique as each applicant. What I know is that “behavior,” or “how well you will fit in,” may be even more important than all of the other elements together. Either the candidate will be a good fit with the company or not.


How to Make Your “Hire Score” HIGHER

While we advisors, or career development specialists, know what employers look for in new graduates, unfortunately some of our students do not. This assessment was developed with the student in mind. It is simple, uses terms they understand, is self-scored, and highlights what is important to employers. Or more importantly, what the student is missing and hopefully has time to obtain before graduation. Historically, one of the primary roles of career advisors has been to familiarize our clients with the world of work, the expectations of employers, and how to adjust to them when necessary. Just over one hundred years ago in Boston, Frank Parsons developed the core of vocational guidance when he said that the best career decisions would result from a thorough understanding of one’s personal attributes and how well they matched up to the requirements of specific jobs and employers. The “Hire Score” assessment is a simple and effective application of that well-established professional role.

Career development professionals can easily create their own hire score assessment by including the elements above and any other items relevant to the audience. An example of the “Hire Score” assessment used at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University can be viewed by following this link:  http://more.engineering.asu.edu/career/students/help-desk/ The best time to expose your students to the “Hire Score” assessment is at the beginning of their college career (or for a graduate student, their first week on campus). This will help them to understand what is expected of them during the next few years so it is not a surprise if they are one month away from graduation and may not have received a single call from any company for an interview.

I find this type of assessment works well with all students, but it is particularly helpful with foreign students. Typically they do not have the understanding of how important a resume, networking or internships are in landing a job in the United States upon graduation. Presenting this information in the form of a test really gets their attention, as they tend to place high value on good test results. While their “Hire Score” assessment results may be disappointing, it should be a strong motivating factor in getting them to use the services provided in your Career Development office.

Good luck with the “Hire Score” assessment, and by the way . . . what is your “HIRE SCORE”?



Karen KowalKaren M. Kowal, GCDF,  holds a BS in Engineering Technology from the University of Nebraska with a focus on Mechanical and Industrial Engineering and has recently completed the GCDF training program.  Karen has experience as an Engineer, IT Recruiter, Director of Enrollment Operations, and Vice President of Technology at American Express with global responsibilities.  Her focus has been on large scale technology solutions, streamlining operations, and global people leadership.  Her leadership experience includes many years of career coaching, development, and planning. Karen is currently a Career Development Specialist in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, concentrating on Master’s and Ph.D. students. She may be reached at Karen.Kowal@asu.edu.

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Julie LaCroix   on Thursday 08/01/2013 at 08:17 PM

I love your approach, thank you for sharing the Hire Score idea. Your background is so interesting and I'm glad to know you are using those great problem solving skills toward the career development of promising young adults!

Paula Wagner   on Thursday 08/01/2013 at 09:44 PM

What a great tool! If only students would utilize it early on instead of waiting until they graduate to worry about a job! Is there a high, average or low score on this assessment? I'm sorry to miss the next Career Convergence in October as I'll out of the country.

Kristen Lindsay   on Friday 08/02/2013 at 08:30 AM

This is a great idea! During orientation sessions, I use a similar concept. For an interactive activity, I invite three volunteers to participate in "career development red light / green light." I read from a list of activities students can complete to increase their career readiness: holding a part-time job, creating a LinkedIn account, completing a career assessment, updating their resume in the last 6 months, etc. If they have completed the task, they get the green light to take a step forward. The one closest to me at the end of the list is the most career ready. Of course all volunteers get a treat for participation, and the audience helps define some of the terms I use throughout the activity. Its working really well this summer, introducing first-year students to various career development concepts.

Mary Ghilani   on Friday 08/02/2013 at 09:07 AM

What a great concept! Thanks for sharing.

Linda Crowder   on Friday 08/02/2013 at 12:11 PM

Great information! I can use this in my practice.

Ann Mills   on Friday 08/02/2013 at 02:01 PM

Thank you Karen. Our students love tools, rubrics, anything that can help them gauge where they are in the job search process. This tool is simple, but effective in conveying the criteria employers consider when job searching.

Mike Wiles   on Friday 08/30/2013 at 10:29 AM

With your information and Kristen's activity I can develop an activity to help my high school students see the importance in engaging in their career planning. Thanks for sharing.

Peter Raeth   on Thursday 04/03/2014 at 08:49 AM

What Karen says is very true. I would add that the student needs to have accomplished projects that matter to the target industry. This is especially true of the senior project, thesis, or dissertation. In concise form, the student needs to articulate what was done, why it was done, how it was done, and why it matters. If at all possible, even if only as a co-author, the student needs to have published in the industry's peer-reviewed literature. This last is not said from the academic perspective but from the industrial perspective. Such publications give a vote of confidence from professionals in the industry.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the comments shown above are those of the individual comment authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of this organization.