If you're reading this you're probably either worried about getting a dreaded Desmond or you've already got one. Either way I want to make this totally clear, if you have a 2:2, don't panic.
Whilst it may not be the result that you dreamt of, it's certainly not game, set and match. There are many people who have received a 2:2 and gone on to have highly successful careers. If you’ve just got a 2:2 now is the time to pick yourself up, take stock, get your game plan together and get busy.
In this post I want to give you some practical steps as well as some tips on how to present yourself. I'm not saying it's going to be easy but with some resilience, flexibility and hard work you'll be able to overcome what might feel like the end of the world. OK, so where do we start?
First off, can you appeal?
If there are mitigating circumstances in some cases there could be grounds for appeal. If you feel like there might be, you'll need to check your university's regulations to see if you can appeal. If there are grounds for appeal the best thing to do is to talk through your options with your personal tutor.
Do you have a conditional offer of a job?
If you already have a conditional offer you're no doubt panicking about the ramifications of getting a 2:2. The best thing to do at this stage is to get in touch with the employer to see if there is any room for manoeuvre. The fact remains, you impressed them enough at the interview stage, so they may still be willing to take you on.
When you get in touch you'll need to be ready to make your case. Unless you have clear mitigating circumstances it's best to focus on the other elements of your experience, and the skills you've learnt since your interview rather than excuses.
Don't give up on graduate schemes
Admittedly there are lots of graduate schemes that operate a blanket 2:1 policy, but there are plenty out there that don't. The first thing I'd suggest doing is Googling “Companies that will accept a 2:2”. There are a fair few lists that have been put together that include companies that may consider a 2:2.
*If you have just received a 2:2 one issue that you might find is that you've missed the application date. If that is the case and you find positions that you want to apply for, see it as an opportunity. Now you have some time to regroup and make yourself more employable for the next application cycle.
Get your CV 'job ready'
To start applying for positions you'll need to get your CV up to scratch. Even if you find that a lot of positions want you to fill out application forms, updating your CV is a great way to have all your info in one place.
The first thing to remember when writing your CV is to be honest. I've seen so many CVs where people have written 'Second Class Honours Degree' or 'Degree in Marketing'. By doing this you're not fooling anyone. The only thing that you’re doing is telling an employer that you're ashamed and that you aren't to be trusted.
The next step is to ensure that your CV sells your skills and experience as well as your education. If you can, emphasise any niche skills that you’ve picked up along the way or experience that may help to set you aside from other candidates.
Look to opportunities offered by SMEs
Whilst a lot of graduate programs are run by big brand employers, a large proportion of hires are actually made by SMEs. With opportunities on the rise, some SMEs are being more flexible with their entry requirements.
It's also worth noting that there are many advantages to working for an SME. Being smaller they often offer the chance to gain a more varied experience helping you to build a wider skill-set. It's also common for the right candidate to have greater opportunities for career advancement than in large scale enterprises.
It often comes as a surprise to hear that around 40% of jobs are never advertised. To unearth hidden job opportunities, you're going to need to apply speculatively. The great thing about speculative applications is that it can separate you from the competition entirely.
To apply speculatively I often find the direct approach of calling works best. Admittedly, calling employers can seem scary, but emails are very easy to ignore, whilst talking to someone will give you the best chance of building rapport and hopefully impressing the decision makers.
Before you call them get your elevator pitch ready. This should be 30-60 seconds long, succinctly describing your experience and education, as well as what you could bring to their organisation and why you're interested in working for them.
Once you've got your elevator pitch nailed ask to be put through to whoever is in charge of graduate recruitment. *Bonus marks to those that can find this out in advance through LinkedIn.
When you get past the receptionist to someone that deals with recruitment, ask whether they have any junior or graduate positions available. If they don't have any at the moment, ask if they'd consider keeping your CV on file in case anything comes up. This will at least get your CV in front of their eyes and you onto their radar.
Finally, don't give up
As I mentioned at the beginning, it's not going to be easy. You're probably going to get lots of knock-backs and on some days it will feel like you aren't getting anywhere. The one thing you can be sure of is you will get there. You may need to take a more elaborate route than if you'd have got a 1st but you know what they say about the road less travelled.....