XERO’s Siobhan Warren gives 5 tips on how to secure a job on graduation

We spoke with Siobhan Warren, Global Graduate Experience Manager for Xero, to get some insights into her workplace and see what she looks for when hiring graduates.

With summer holidays concluding soon it’s a great time to get focused on the year ahead and what you want out of 2020. February and March is also the time of year when we bring employers on campus, looking to recruit for graduate roles this year and next. Graduation may feel far off, but as student, Gretchen Rubin says; “the days are long but the years are short".

Employers want to meet you. Are you ready? If not, we’re here to help – there’s a bunch of workshops available on MyCDES to help prepare for these networking opportunities.


"In my role I’m responsible for creating and delivering our junior talent strategy for Xero globally – through our intern and grad programs. It’s an awesome job!

"When hiring graduates, we look for a level of technical skills appropriate to our roles, as well as personal attributes that make it more likely a grad will enjoy our culture and program. Our program is designed to help develop our future leaders, so we need people who can communicate well; that like a challenge; can cope with change; who are keen to learn and also self-aware. Nobody’s perfect, nor will they have all the skills we’re after, and that’s okay. 

Being authentic and genuine through the process will really help an employer see who you are as a person, and that connection will mean you stay front-of mind for the staff who have met you. A lasting first impression can go a long way!

"It starts with your CV. Those who portray their whole self in their application always stand out. This is a great chance to include any activities that may supplement what you’re learning in class, i.e. going to meetups, trying to do some coding of your own, volunteering in a space that adds to your learning etc. It’s by no means a requirement – I’m very aware not everyone can afford to do this, but if your CV makes it clear what you do with your time, it gives the recruiter some insight into your world and could bring you one step closer to landing the job.

"A common mistake I’ve seen in interviews is students not admitting to not knowing something. We don’t expect you to know everything! Grad programs are there to help you learn. If you can say “I don’t know the answer, but is it something to do with XYZ?”, that shows you’re happy to admit a knowledge gap; that you’re trying to understand where it would fit in with the knowledge you do have and also that you’re open to learning something new. Which are all very commendable qualities.

"Another tip for nailing a job interview is to follow instructions. Every employer is looking for something different, some may ask you to bring personal projects along, or prep something for the interview. Do it to the best of your ability, and like I mentioned earlier, don’t forget to bring your whole self to the interview too.

"Remember an interview is also your chance to find out whether the role and company are the right fit for YOU, it’s not just for them to choose you. If you’ve got questions, make sure you ask them! We meet so many students so we can really tell when someone is genuinely excited to be there. It makes a difference.

"One thing NOT to do in the interview process (I think it’s probably one of my biggest gripes!) is when a company pays for a grad to travel to the interview, but then the grad cancels the day prior or on the day of. That’s pretty last-minute notice and in a lot of cases, travel is non-refundable. So, it’s not only cost the business some valuable funds, but it’s cost one of your fellow graduates or someone else that precious opportunity and you’ve damaged your personal brand. Unreliability is not an attractive trait. If you’re not sure if you want to pursue working with a company, decline the interview or ask to have a virtual interview instead. Trust me, they’ll appreciate it”.