graduate job hunting with a 2.2 degree

How to job hunt if you get a 2.2 when you graduate

Not all graduate employers specify that they want applicants to have a 2.1. If you're concerned about how a 2.2 will affect your chances, our advice will help you make the most of your degree.

Worried about missing out on a 2.1 degree? Wondering what this would mean for your graduate career prospects? High levels of competition for graduate jobs can lead to students feeling under acute pressure to achieve a 2.1. However, while it’s true that some big graduate employers specify that they only want graduates with a 2.1 or higher, this is by no means true for all. Even the most popular and sought after recruiters sometimes take a more flexible approach.

So, the first thing to do if you’re concerned about your degree result is to remember that you can still get a job with a top graduate recruiter with a 2.2. It might be harder and it might take longer, but spend some time researching employers and you might be surprised by the opportunities that remain open to you.

Many application deadlines for graduate schemes fall around Christmas or early in the New Year, and some recruiters may not accept applications in the spring or summer. However, if you are in your final year and you have missed out on applying to employers that interest you, you may be able to apply after graduating and join the following year's intake. Some graduate schemes open in the summer for programmes starting in the autumn of the following year, and sometimes employers reopen graduate schemes at a late stage if they still have vacancies to fill.

Keep up to date with the opportunities available by registering fully with targetjobs.co.uk and completing your profile, and check our employer hubs for more information about employers that catch your eye.

The Big 4 accountancy firms and 2.2 degrees

The Big 4 accountancy and professional services firms – EY, Deloitte, PwC and KPMG –  traditionally looked for candidates who have achieved a 2.1 or higher, but have recently started taking a more flexible approach. EY has removed both UCAS and degree classification from its entry criteria, while PwC has stopped using UCAS scores to filter candidates for the majority of its candidates. Meanwhile, KPMG has dropped its UCAS requirement from 320 points to 300, and stresses that candidates who do not meet this will not automatically be rejected. Deloitte expects 260 UCAS points and a 2.1 degree from applicants to its graduate schemes, but sometimes adjusts these entry requirements to take account of candidates' educational and personal circumstances.

Getting a financial services, retail banking or insurance job with a 2.2

Typically, graduate recruiters across financial services are looking for 2.1s, but there are some exceptions:

  • HMRC's tax professionals programme accepts a minimum of a 2.2.
  • Lloyds Banking Group accepts applications from candidates who are on track to achieve a 2.2 or above.
  • Building society Nationwide accepts applications from all graduates, regardless of degree class.

Employers who state they are looking for 2.1s may still be willing to consider your application if your results have been affected by mitigating circumstances.

Graduate schemes open to engineers with 2.2s

A number of engineering employers accept graduates with 2.2 degrees for either some or all of their graduate engineering schemes, including AECOM, Babcock International Group, Balfour Beatty, Jaguar Land Rover and National Grid.

Getting a graduate job in construction, civil engineering or quantity surveying with a 2.2

Some employers in construction, civil engineering and quantity surveying either don't specify a minimum degree result or are willing to consider graduates with 2.2s for some or all of their schemes. These include Amey, Costain and Barratt Homes.

Hunting for a graduate job in property if you've got a 2.2

If you want a career in property and have a 2.2 there are a number of steps you can take to improve your chances, from strengthening your applications to applying to smaller firms or seeking property-related roles in industries such as retail or transport. 

Will employers recruit IT and technology students with 2.2s?

IT and technology roles are common across a number of businesses in a variety of different fields. Many of the opportunities for graduates with 2.2 degrees are with organisations for whom IT is not their main business, including engineering companies. Some recruiters' graduate IT schemes are open to applicants with 2.2s who also have a masters.

Examples of employers who have accepted 2.2s in the past for technology roles or programmes include Network Rail, GCHQ, the NHS and Jaguar Land Rover.

The public sector is open to those with 2.2s

There are numerous graduate schemes with highly-regarded employers in the public sector that are open to graduates with 2.2s. For example, employers that accept 2.2s for some or all their graduate programmes include the following: the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), the Civil Service Fast Stream, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and the NHS.

Retail schemes open to graduates with 2.2s

Many retail recruiters accept graduates with 2.2s or do not set any degree class requirements, and some recruit all year round. A relevant degree subject may be required for some roles, however.

For example, graduate schemes at Arcadia are open to applications from graduates with 2.2s, while Marks & Spencer will consider applications from all graduates.

Hospitality, leisure and travel businesses rarely ask for 2.1s

Employers in the hospitality, leisure and travel sector do not generally filter applicants out based on degree classification. Relevant work experience is often considered to be of more importance.

Secrets of getting the graduate career you want… no matter what

1. Be prepared to play the long game

If you can’t get a job with the graduate employer you want to work for, you could pick up the relevant experience at a smaller company, and find a way in later. Alternatively, keep your eyes on larger employers’ careers websites for direct entry-level roles, rather than graduate schemes and programmes.

2. If you have genuine extenuating or mitigating circumstances, let recruiters know early on

3. Consider applying for jobs with small and medium-sized companies (SMEs)

These organisations employ 60% of the UK workforce, and their graduate-level vacancies may be much less oversubscribed than places on the graduate schemes run by big employers. They can offer great opportunities for early responsibility and career development.

4. Research employers and sectors carefully

Big graduate recruiters accept 2.2s for some schemes and not for others. Many graduates do not consider employers if they are not in a particular sector or in attendance at a careers fair. However, the vast majority of roles in businesses can be found across a number of industries – anything from finance to HR, sales to supply chain management.

You may also find opportunities in the public sector that are open to candidates with 2.2s. The NHS graduate management programme, which divides into four specialist schemes, is one such example.

5. Build up your work experience and your contacts in the sector you’re interested in

Develop your networking skills – this will help you to find out about opportunities.

6. Think carefully about the possibility of boosting your qualifications

If you’re interested in taking a masters or postgraduate degree, consider whether it will actually improve your employability.

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