Oxbridge, Ivy League, Redbrick or Polytechnic – degree of employment

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009 - Article, CV Writing, Degree, Education, Employment, graduate cv, job hunting, Job Interview


Graduate Education

Wooden books outside Oxford bookshop

Being a recruiter, I am often asked by current school attendee’s:

Ian, what is the best degree to get if I want a job in X industry?

Am I better off going for Oxbridge, Redbrick university or former polytechnic?

At this point – and as you have probably read a few of my articles, so you know what is coming next – I say: it depends! To which their next question is: Depends on what? To which the answer is: It depends on you, what you want to do, and your circumstances!

In my case, I went to a Polytechnic. I was advised against Oxbridge and Redbrick because I had a practical side to my character: Oxbridge was great if you wanted to be a politician and had Alevels (I don’t, and didn’t); Redbrick great if you wanted to do research (No!); while a polytechnic was for those of us who wanted to learn and then do it. I don’t regret a day at the Polytechnic of Wales, or choosing a polytechnic. What I do mind is the fact that everything is now called a university, like it legitimises all degrees and makes them equal.

Well, here’s news from SkyNews, or more correctly their recruiting department. In a recent article on the excellent UKRecruiter website, Louise interviewed (over a coffee) Emma Mirington, the talent attraction manager at Sky – you can read the full interview/article on Louises’ blogspot here.

What most intrigued me was this quote:

The final stage is a one day assessment centre, which includes a group exercise, interviews and other activities. One of the interesting things they have seen is that some of the more highly qualified candidates (i.e. those from a top tier University or those with a 1st) have not made the same amount of effort as those with lesser qualifications at the initial application stage.  Thus mistakenly assuming that their qualifications speak for themselves – this is not the case and they have subsequently failed the screening process.

So, having had all those brains, and made three+ years of effort, and completed a CV and two stages of Sky’s application process: the supposed best and brightest on paper get out performed by the holder of the honourable third from the shire based former polytechnic!

Should I find this a surprise? No, because when I finished my Masters with commendation, one of the graduate team of the corporation I worked for asked to meet up for a coffee. He was my first meeting at the graduate assessment centre, and I was a bit nervous what he had to say as we had never really got along. What he did say was:

Don’t muck up the last four years, as I have seen too many do that.

This next three days will be like the last four years crammed into three days, and you need to perform at the same level your finals took to get a job.

And he was absolutely right. In fact so well did I apply his words, before I had left the centre I had 6 job offers from 14 interviews. Before I left a week later for a timely holiday in Florida, I had 13 offers from 14 interviews – only my old district decided not to take me back.

Often the question comes when CV writing, what should I say about my degree? In actual fact, your degree means little if you can’t deliver the promise of the result in interview after your finals, or build on it in the positions after graduation. The degree is awarded as a result of ability applied through effort, and it is both aptitudes that employers want to employ in their teams. If you can’t show that, then what was the point of taking the degree in the first place?

Good Luck!

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All text copyright Ajiri Ltd, 2007-2009. All rights reserved, no copying or republication in part or whole without prior written authorisation.

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