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Is a bad degree result really the end of the world?

Employers today are generally looking for more than top grades; therefore, the pressure is on whatever your academic results

Graduating from university with a good degree does not guarantee you a job; in the same vein, leaving with a ‘bad’ degree does not necessarily make things more difficult. In a competitive jobs market, a poor grade is not necessarily the end of the world.

Employers today are generally looking for more than top grades; therefore, the pressure is on whatever your academic results. Gone are the days of a straightforward meritocracy in which the high academic achievers got the gold star as the cream of the crop.

Naturally, students should aim for the best grades they can achieve – for their own sense of pride, if nothing else – but should not feel that they must be chained to their desks. Transferable ‘soft’ skills are just as important in today’s employment market, if not more so.

Effective questioning at interview can tell far more about a candidate than any certificate they produce. Dig deeper into the person’s interests and hobbies and you might be surprised what you learn and what the candidate could bring to the business. This is why the use of competency-based interview questions continues to prove so popular with recruiters and hiring managers.

A study by the London School of Economics (LSE) found some evidence that graduates with a 2:1 degree would earn, on average, £81,000 more over a career lifetime than someone graduating with a 2:2; however, others suggest that a person’s long-term earning potential cannot be predicted as a result of their degree classification.

Whilst there might be a limited impact on starting salaries, the pay packet is soon more dependent on the experience a person builds up, and how quickly, and the contacts they make. If you are worried about not getting the grades, start building up your contacts book now!

The findings from the LSE report might be more useful in understanding the transition from study to work, with those gaining higher grades finding it somewhat easier; however, recent graduates who have not yet found work might disagree.

For many graduates, of course, their final salary is not the primary measure of success, with some not pursuing a pay rise quite as ferociously as others. The higher salaries are often earned in the bigger cities; for many, the additional cash in their pockets is not worth leaving friends and family or for a perceived drop in quality of life.

It makes sense to evaluate what it is you want from your career and how you as an individual will appraise success. If a lower grade will not prevent you achieving this, it really is not the end of the world.

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