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06/12/2011

Career Question: Do good grades really matter these days?

Hi! I got a Second Lower Class Honors
degree in Campus. I have sent out hundreds of CVs but so far, I haven’t been called for any interview. I’m beginning to suspect that many employers lock me out because of my second Lower Class degree. Could this be true?
Anonymous:
Your situation is certainly faced by many job seekers who scored a Second Lower degree or Pass. When looking for the first job at least, the grades do matter to some extent, assuming the job is awarded strictly on merit and not on other factors such as nepotism, cronyism, sexual favors or tribalism. If you have looked at the job websites or newspaper job adverts, you do realize that many employers do place a minimum of Second Upper degree when applying for the entry level jobs; that is jobs available for fresh graduates straight out of University.  

Since there are possibly hundreds if not thousands of job applicants applying for the same position, a cut off of Second Upper degree
makes the work of HR be simpler, as the first round of screening and elimination is based on grades, outlook of CVs plus other mundane things. At this stage, the HR is interested more in weeding out undesirable job candidates than in looking for the perfect fit for the job. Consequently, when one is straight out of Campus, there is hardly any experience to speak of, apart from say attachment or internship, which some employers do not count as experience by the way. So, if one scores good grades, it can signify two things. Either they are smart or hardworking or both. You can therefore be trained fast and hit the ground running immediately. The other thing it signifies is that you can follow instructions, how else did you get good grades if you weren’t able to follow instructions.

Now, that doesn’t mean that the die for Second Lower or Pass graduates is cast. No, not in any sense. What it does mean is that you will have to make a compelling CV, one that will cause the recruiting officers to overlook your average academic qualifications and focus on other strengths, talents and abilities. For instance, if you held leadership positions within the university, you were active in extra curricular activities, you were able to start a small business on the side, you were outstanding in games, this will go a long way in giving you a head start. And remember that the average recruiter takes only about 30 seconds to look at your CV, so, it has to make a great first impression. Beyond the first job however, may be three or four years after graduation, the academic qualifications decrease in importance, and what becomes important is your work and professional experience.
Mabinda C.
Blog Editor


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