How to get a job with a 2.2 degree

21 Jun 2023, 15:38

Find out what a 2.2 means for your job hunt and which employers are open to applications from graduates with 2.2 degrees.

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A graduate programme that requires a 2.1 isn’t your only way into a career.

While some big graduate employers will not accept a 2.2 degree for their graduate schemes and jobs, this is by no means true for all. Even the most popular and sought-after employers sometimes take a more flexible approach to degree classifications and entry requirements.

In this article: Is a 2.2 good? | Employers that accept 2.2s | Applying for 2.1 jobs with a 2.2 | Applying with mitigating circumstances | Accounting with a 2.2 | Training contracts with a 2.2 | Other sectors that accept 2.2s | Tips for getting a job with a 2.2 | Applying for a masters with a 2.2 | How to sell your achievements beyond your degree

Is a 2.2 degree good?

In short, yes. You can still get a good graduate job with a 2.2 degree. The direction that a lot of employers are moving in is away from viewing a first or 2.1 as the be all and end all.

Which graduate employers accept 2.2 degrees for their graduate schemes and jobs?

Some employers set a minimum degree classification across all of their graduate schemes, while others set different entry requirements for each of their programmes. Here are just a few graduate employers that either take a 2.2 or do not set a minimum degree grade for at least some of their vacancies:

  • Atkins
  • Babcock International Group
  • BAE Systems
  • Barratt Developments
  • The Civil Service Fast Stream (NB: not all streams and only when the programme is running)
  • Enterprise Rent-A-Car
  • EY
  • FDM Group
  • HMRC
  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • Lloyds Banking Group
  • Lloyd’s of London
  • MI5
  • The NHS graduate management programmes
  • Nationwide
  • Network Rail
  • nucleargraduates
  • PwC
  • Sky
  • Tesco.

Can you apply for jobs that ask for a 2.1 if you have a 2.2?

Some employers usually require a 2.1 but will make exceptions on a case-by-case basis. Similarly, some employers use a contextualised recruitment process, pioneered by Rare . This process assesses your grades in the context of your socio-economic background (such as the school you attended), meaning that employers may accept 2.2s from individual candidates. Check out the websites of your chosen employers to see whether they participate in the programme.

If an employer has set a 2.1 degree as a minimum requirement for a job and doesn't mention exceptions or a contextualised recruitment process on its website, you could try contacting them (for example, by attending a careers fair where they have a stand) to explain your situation and check if a 2.1 or above is a strict requirement or if they would be willing to consider your application.

Can you apply for 2.1 jobs with a 2.2 if you have mitigating circumstances?

Yes. If your grades have suffered due to extenuating circumstances such as illness or bereavement, you are still eligible to apply for jobs that have a 2.1 entry requirement. Find out more about when and how to disclose mitigating circumstances to recruiters.

Are some careers harder to get into with a 2.2 degree?

Employers in sectors such as finance and law have always had a reputation for stricter entry requirements than some other sectors. Historically they have requested a 2.1 degree or above, but some have since relaxed their entry requirements.

Applying for trainee accountant jobs with a 2.2 degree

You can still become a trainee accountant with a 2.2 degree – and at a Big 4 accounting firm, too. EY does not ask for a specific degree classification or UCAS points and states that it doesn’t screen out applications on academic performance alone. PwC has also recently removed 2.1 as an entry requirement.

Meanwhile, Deloitte seeks a 2.1 degree and 104 UCAS points from its graduates, but it does say that you can still apply if you have narrowly missed those grades and it will take into account your personal circumstances. Likewise, KPMG as a general rule asks for a 2.1 degree but states that it looks at more than just academic results. There is also an opportunity on its application form to disclose an extenuating circumstances that impacted your grades.

Find out more about the entry requirements for the Big 4 .

Getting a training contract with a 2.2 degree

It’s not impossible to become a trainee solicitor with a 2.2 degree, but it may be more difficult. Usually you will need a 2.1 to apply for training contracts at top law firms.

However, it is law firms that most notably partner with Rare to use its contextualised recruitment process, which assesses grades in the context of your socio-economic background. According to Rare, it is used by 95% of the UK’s top law firms. This includes magic circle firms.

What about other sectors?

There are plenty of employers across different career sectors that welcome applications from graduates with 2.2 degrees. Take a look at the articles below for more sector-specific information.

The secrets of getting the graduate career you want… no matter what

By the time you have some proper professional experience behind you and are applying for experienced hire roles, recruiters won’t be looking at your degree class. They will be looking at your previous performance in the workplace. The key lies in finding your first job and a graduate programme that requests a 2.1 isn’t your only way into a career.

You could:

  • Research a wider range of industries . If you know what job you want to do, consider looking outside of the employers typically associated with that profession; ‘alternative’ or ‘non-typical’ employers may offer individual entry-level vacancies with more flexible entry requirements than a profession’s ‘big graduate schemes’. Remember that a good number of jobs exist across a range of industries and employers. For example, most businesses recruit HR, accountancy and financial management, IT and marketing professionals, while a number of large organisations employ in-house lawyers. Similarly, you might not expect organisations such as retailers and the NHS to have engineering and property vacancies, but they do.
  • Actively seek out smaller businesses . Small and medium-sized businesses make up 99.9% of the UK economy (according to GOV.UK) and, as smaller employers are likely to have fewer applicants than larger employers, they may not have to request a 2.1 as a way to limit the number of applications. Your careers service, recruitment agencies and the local press can assist your search for smaller businesses in your local area.
  • Work your way in . If you are able to get some work experience with an organisation and you impress, your manager will be more likely to hire you into a permanent role if one is available. This could be informal work experience that you apply speculatively for , a formal internship, a part-time job or even temping. Read our A to Z of different work experience options to get inspired.
  • Work your way across. Alternatively, if you are willing to play 'the long game' to get the career you want, you could apply for another role with an employer that also hires professionals into your chosen career area. Once you have impressed in that role, express an interest in your chosen career area and you may be able to move across into it. Good employers like to facilitate this, if they are able to, in order to retain good employees. However, while targetjobs editors have spoken to a fair number of people over the years who have moved sideways in this way, it is not a guaranteed route into your chosen career; there is always a bit of luck involved. You also need to remember that you should be happy doing your initial role (employers will only hire candidates who demonstrate enthusiasm for the specific vacancy they've applied for) and that it may be some time before you can broach the subject of moving teams.
  • Build a network and let them know that you are looking for work. Not all employers have the budget to advertise vacancies widely and so it is quite common to hear of a lot of opportunities by word of mouth. This is more likely to happen if you forge a good network of contacts – and, if you don't consider yourself to be well connected right now, it's never been easier to start networking and change this. Start to work on creating the best possible LinkedIn profile and begin connecting .
  • Consider a postgraduate degree . Some employers that usually specify a 2.1 degree will accept a 2.2 degree if it is accompanied by a postgraduate qualification such as a masters (particularly if you achieve a distinction). However, different employers have different attitudes towards this, even within the same sector, and so it is worth contacting your preferred employers to gain their views before embarking on further study. Whether the possibility of getting onto a graduate programme with a large employer is worth the cost of a masters and another year of study also deserves careful consideration.

Can you apply for a masters with a 2.2 degree?

Some universities or courses require you to have a 2.1 degree, but others ask for a 2.2 degree or above. Some that ask for a 2.1 may consider a 2.2 if you have related work experience alongside your degree. Just like employers, universities will also take into consideration any mitigating circumstances that affected your undergraduate degree result.

Not just all about your degree

Remember that employers don’t just look for academic achievements when assessing you for a role; they look for evidence of your skills. As such, it is worth putting in the time to develop the competencies that employers seek. The coronavirus pandemic paused a lot of the ways to gain work experience and pursue extracurricular activities, but there are more opportunities as things open up. The following articles might be a good starting point for exploring your options:

Conduct a skills audit by looking at some job advertisements in the career sector that interests you. If you lack evidence of a skill, seek out ways to develop it. Take a look at our skills and competencies section for a definition of key skills and inspiration on how to develop them.

targetjobs editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the targetjobs content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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