In general most graduate jobs and schemes are not going to be requiring all of the knowledge that you’ve learned at university. In fact, in general you really don’t need a degree to do the vast number of graduate jobs out there. Big4 Audit and Consulting jobs? You can learn all of that knowledge on the job. Now that we’ve accepted this fact, we can begin to question the necessity of a degree. Simply, a degree is a tool for dividing up applicants. Employers don’t want to spend tens of thousands of pounds interviewing and screening thousands people, so they need a tool to easily reject vast numbers of applicants.
GCSEs, A-Levels and now classifications (in a world where 40% of individuals go to university) are that tool. Let’s forget about GCSEs and A-levels; they’re in the past, and you can’t change them. When applying for a graduate position, you’re going to be competing with likely between 10 and 50 people. Put yourself in the position of a recruiter, you’re just a name on a page. They have to reject and shortlist people based on the variables they see. Often the most important variable for getting shortlisted is your degree classification. What other meritless variable can so easily be used to reject over half of applicants?
Let’s begin to look at how recruiters reject individuals from their shortlist.
Anyone with a 2:2? Instantly reject. It’s clear these individuals have absolutely no work ethic. They have applied for a course in which they likely have the greatest interest, and even then they have failed. They consistently failed to keep up with their peers and have shown no interest in academics despite being adults. “I’m not interested in education, but I know I’ll be good when working” I hear you say; unfortunately that argument doesn’t work. Graduate employers need people who are well rounded, not extremely talented at one thing and incapable at another. You need to be consistent, because guess what, one of those other applicants has actually got a first-class honours and is going to be just as good at the job as you.
Anyone with a 2:1? You’re mediocre. You also don’t stand out. Most other applicants are going to have your classification and unless you’ve done something special it’s unlikely you’re going to land the job. Did you study in another country for a semester? Did you do an internship with a reputable firm? Did you get a research paper published? Did you help orphans in famine stuck country for a summer? Unless you’re exceptional, it’s unlikely you’re going to get the very best of jobs. You’ve just been proving that you don’t have the ambition or work-ethic to excel above your peers.
Got a first-class honours? You instantly stand out, and will likely be short listed. You’ve worked hard and you know the academics. Careful though… are you shy and timid? Do you actually know what happens practically in the industry you’re applying for? Do you have work experience? Have you tried psychometric tests – you might be disappointed with your results.
As you can see, your classification is a wonderful tool to instantly reject you and question your dedication to your career. All of your circumstances will instantly be discounted, because winners don’t have extenuating circumstances. If something happens, they tackle it and beat it down (with a large stick).