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18/04/2013

Do Second Lower and Pass Graduates face dim Job Prospects?

The competition for grades in campus is fierce. It’s the reason why ‘mwakenyas’ are so popular in many campuses, or for some students, sex for marks is an easy avenue to getting better grades. Underlining the competition for better grades is the weight that many employers place on good grades. If you happen to get a Second Lower or a Pass grade, here are a few ways you could make up for your shortcomings in grades:

Know where you stand.
For some employers, grades are everything, especially when applying for the first job. For others, grades are simply the screening tool to whittle down the number of prospective job candidates to numbers that they can actually sit down and interview. With a single job opening attracting hundreds of applications, an easy way to cut down on the number of applicants is to put down a pass mark, say, a Second Upper degree.

As a prospective job seeker, it would be better to research on the future employers. For example, in government and civil service jobs, as well as for jobs in parastatals, grades are usually one of the biggest
determinants as to who gets hired and who doesn’t get hired. You would therefore be disadvantaged if you apply for such jobs, given that thousands others also eye these jobs.

Equally, for blue chip companies that look to hire graduate and management trainees, As and Bs on the transcripts is one of the sure ways to get to the next stage of the hiring process.

Highlight your other talents and skills.
If you have remarkable talents and skills that cannot be effectively captured on the academic transcripts, make sure you bring them to light. You could especially mention them in your cover letter, always remembering to connect your skills and talents to the job you are applying for. If you have impeccable leadership, teamwork, problem solving, and a track record of community service, a progressive employer would likely make exemptions for you even though your grades might be average or poor.

If you get an opportunity to do aptitude and psychometric tests, then a high score may help compensate for your weak grades.

Grow your networks.
Now, this isn’t to endorse that you should skive classes and go out to connect with the important people in town to be known. However, it’s a well known fact that people hire people whom they trust, and one of the easiest ways to be trusted by a prospective employer is to be recommended by someone influential within the employer’s circle of friends. This isn’t the same as ‘kujuana’, since you already have the skills, and perhaps, with a just a little push, you could get hired. Start by being proactive in the influential clubs in campus, like the media or marketing club, environmental club, engineering club, or taking small jobs like a contributor to the campus student’s magazine, or a position in the student’s leadership body.

Choose future employers carefully.
In this age of high unemployment rate, it seems counter-intuitive to even consider screening employers. For an employer, a good grade might indicate that you are hardworking, brilliant, and are willing to follow instructions. Such employers however also want a complete holistic package, and may be willing to overlook one aspect of a candidate if they think that the candidate is otherwise qualified. While this is true, some other employers are unintentionally rigid, and consider grades to be everything in the selection process. These are the employers you might want to avoid.

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