4 key attributes mining companies look for in graduates


The mining industry is in an exciting period of growth, so it’s working hard to attract graduates with these four qualities.

If you’re graduating university and thinking about your career options, perhaps you’ve already considered a future in Australia’s mining industry.

Mining provides about 15% of Australia’s gross domestic product and 60% of our exports. It supports 1.1 million jobs and around 10% of all employment. It is an industry with countless fulfilling and rewarding career opportunities for graduates with degrees in any number of disciplines, including engineering, environmental science, business, geology, human resources, occupational health and safety, information technology, and more.

If you’ve considered a career in mining, then you probably already know that the industry is experiencing an exciting period of growth and that billions of dollars have been invested in new projects and exploration – creating a pipeline of wealth for companies, employees and the country well into the future.

With mining “on the up”, employment is booming. The Australian mining industry is now actively looking for graduates to fill roles.

According to Scott Deakin, Mining People’s Managing Consultant for Geology, there is currently more demand for graduates than the available supply – making it a great time to get into the industry.

He said that in normal circumstances mining companies will have ranking criteria for graduates, which may involve thresholds around university marks, universities they prefer to source graduates from, and a preference for graduates who possess a master’s or honours degree.

“However, when university course intake and graduation levels are at dangerously low levels, like we are currently seeing, or when the industry is thriving, mining companies will naturally move to open the scope of the graduate talent they hope to secure,” he said.

4 key attributes mining companies are looking for in graduates

While the mining industry is booming and opportunities are plentiful, there are still some attributes which will tip the scales in favour of one graduate over another. Here are four key attributes which Scott says all mining companies are looking for in graduates.

1.      A commitment to the industry

In certain STEM-related disciplines, employers definitely value graduates who have also completed an honours or master’s degree – even more so if it has a particular relevance to their project, commodity or mineralisation style.

Many in the industry feel these higher-level qualifications are a good indicator that an individual has a strong passion and dedication to their chosen career and field.

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2.      A willingness to try new things and take on responsibility

Being willing to try a variety of roles and responsibilities, which may include starting in a more junior capacity, is something mining companies often look for.

For instance, graduate geologists who are prepared to start as a field assistant or pit technician demonstrate behavioural traits employers like to see. That’s not to say they don’t look for ambition in a graduate – quite the contrary – but someone who is diligent and unpretentious will often excel, and that’s what they want to see.

3.      A good knowledge of the kinds of career paths available in mining

Employers want graduates to have a reasonable sense of what they hope to achieve from the role they are applying for. Graduates are not expected to know the exact career position they would like to have in 10 or 15 years’ time, but having some idea of their immediate future and what they would like to learn, is always beneficial.

Graduates who have poorly researched the role and responsibilities and profess to have no idea about what may be involved leave question marks and hesitation in the employer’s mind.

4.      Punctuality, reliability and a desire to learn

OK, so these are actually three separate things but they are vital behaviours which speak volumes about you, as a graduate, and they lead mining company employers to make positive conclusions about the kind of person you are and the kind of employee you will be.

Punctuality, reliability and a desire to learn can all be exhibited from the moment an application is lodged, right up to the interview stage, and then throughout the follow-up processes. Don’t drop the ball here.

Winning a graduate job in mining is up to you

The above is not a definitive guide to getting a job in the mining industry as a graduate. Nor is it any kind of blueprint the industry uses. But in the more than two decades the Mining People team has been working with the Australian mining industry to place graduates, these are the key attributes we’ve seen used to help narrow the field down to a winning candidate.

If you’re a graduate or student interested in a career in the mining industry, our team of career guidance experts can help you. Find out more here or get in touch.

Dan Hatch
Mining People International