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By Kibet Tobias
Jane (not her real name), a student at the University of Nairobi is yet to graduate in September this year.
According to her email, she pursued a degree in Finance and she already feels like she failed in her course.
Do I have to feel like a failure just because I will graduate with a pass? I think that I have already disappointed my parents. I am worried I may not get a job,” reads part of her email.
Statistics show that approximately 50,000 graduates are released into the job market every year.
Now the question is; do grades really matter when you are looking for a job in Kenya? Is it hard to get a job with a second lower or a pass from University?
In this article, I have compiled opinions from HR experts in regard to this.
Different employers have specific requirements
According to a survey conducted by Corporate Staffing Services, having a degree certificate can open doors for you. However, it cannot directly translate to a job opportunity.
The report indicated that about 53% of the employers consider your education when hiring while 49.4% look at other things like the involvement in extracurricular activities in school.
Ms. Muthoni Ndegwa, a Recruitment Manager at Corporate Staffing says that your academic grades will only matter depending on the specific requirements of the employer.
Have you ever seen positions that indicate that for you to be shortlisted, you must have a B+ and above in KCSE plus upper-class honors degree?
This happens especially when you are applying for maybe graduate trainee position at the big 5 like Deloitte, KPMG, PwC and the likes.
To some extent, you may argue that it is unfair not be shortlisted just because your grade is lower than the specified one but they do that because a lot of candidates will apply to work at these companies.
A single position attracts thousands of applications therefore the company implements simple methods to filter the majority of applicants out.
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 It depends on the industry
Ms. Caroline Kariuki, a recruiter says that some fields are more popular than others.
“Industries such as finance, accounting, IT, law and engineering are popular and competitive. So employers may use academic performance in their initial evaluation of candidates,”
In this case, your grade is taken as one of the key indicators of your competency.
Grades don’t really matter
Good grades are not an indicator of the experience, skills, and qualities your potential employers want.
Think about your interpersonal skills, creativity, problem-solving abilities, critical thinking, and communication skills. Some employers want to see your capability to do the job and not your academic performance.
You may have failed in class but you probably have special soft skills that can market you in the job market garnered from internships or related projects you once undertook even if it was just for a few months.
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So what should you do?
Aim to acquire soft skills that will set you apart from other job seekers.
As a university graduate, you need to volunteer or intern to get valuable experience. You can also participate in extra-curricular activities relevant to the job that you want to apply for..
In conclusion, if you got poor grades in university, you’re not a failure in life. So next time you see a position, don’t feel scared to apply for it. After all, what matters is your ability to do the job not what you got in school.
Tobias is a Communications Officer at Career Point Kenya. Got any comments on the article? Leave them below or email tobias@careerpointkenya.co.ke.