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Jobs & Careers

What to do if you get a 2:2 degree

A university degree at any level is something to be massively proud of. But what if you're disappointed with your 2:2? Don't sweat – here's what to do.

Woman holding her degree peace sign

Credit: TierneyMJ (foreground), Lana Kray (background) – Shutterstock

You're probably tired of people telling you a 2:2 is nothing to fret about, but if you didn't get the result you were aiming for, it's natural to feel a bit deflated. However, it really isn't the end of the world.

Many employers are becoming more flexible on entry requirements for grad schemes (more on that later), and some of the world's most successful people graduated with a 2:2 or lower – including J.K. Rowling, Bear Grylls, and even our very own Student Finance expert, Jake Butler!

We're here to put your mind at ease, answer any questions you might have, and share some tips on how to move forward.

Need some help with your job search? Check out our tips for finding your perfect graduate job to get you started.

What can you do with a 2:2 degree?

Do employers care if you get below a 2:1?

job interview scene what would you say you do here

Credit: NBC

It's true that many jobs have a minimum degree requirement of a 2:1, but it's not the case for every employer – and there are signs it's becoming less and less important.

For example, some of the leading accountancy firms (Deloitte, EY and KPMG) have recently taken on a much more flexible approach to graduate scheme entry requirements, and now favour using their own internal assessments to work out if you're a good fit.

But it's not just the accounting heavyweights who are welcoming graduates with a 2:2 with open arms – here's a small taster of the major companies who will happily take you on.

Companies which hire graduates with a 2:2 degree

Can you apply for jobs that ask for a 2:1 if you got a 2:2?

rachel friends get a job

Credit: Warner Bros.

If a 2:1 or above is a strict requirement, don't apply without reaching out to the employer first. You don't want to spend hours compiling the perfect application, only to have the HR department chuck it in the bin as soon as they see you haven't met their criteria.

By contacting them first and explaining your situation, you may be able to establish whether or not everything on the list of criteria is absolutely essential or not.

In reality, it's often the case that the section of a job listing marked "Only apply if you..." is more of a wish-list, with the employer well aware that most applicants won't meet 100% of the requirements.

You might find that getting in touch early doors gets you nowhere, but there's a chance that they'll be impressed with you taking the initiative and might ask you to email your CV and covering letter to them directly. If so, they'd have already paid more attention to you than other candidates (even ones with first-class degrees!).

If you're unable to contact the employer first, you could instead mention very early on in your CV/ covering letter that although you've graduated with a 2:2, you frequently received 2:1s and firsts for assignments (assuming that's true, of course).

This will also imply that you were close to getting a 2:1, without you having to make any excuses.

Not sure what to do after university? We've got plenty of ideas – along with tips on how to survive grad life.

How to get a job with a 2:2

There are so many options that will launch you into the right career, and some routes will even put you at an advantage over some first-class graduates.

Here's how to get a good job quickly after university:

  1. Look for graduate jobs that accept 2:2s

    boy with futuristic glasses

    Credit: Dimension Films

    You might think this tip is about as useful as telling you to get rich by digging for gold, but schemes and positions for graduates with a 2:2 do exist – and you won't even have to compromise on quality.

    We're talking about opportunities with some serious players (as mentioned above, a whole host of major companies accept graduates with a 2:2).

    A quick Google search for terms like "graduate jobs 2:2 degree" will bring up a ton of job search sites which have search pages specifically about this.

    Alternatively, you could check out our page on graduate scheme deadlines for a list of all the major grad schemes in the UK with useful info linked to each one.

  2. Apply to work at a startup

    Windows start button

    Credit: Windows

    There are a huge number of startup businesses in the UK, and new ones are getting launched all the time.

    Startups tend to focus way more on you as an individual as opposed to a number that ticks all the right boxes. As such, you should try to be personable and get in touch with startups directly to wow them with your story.

    If you can show them that you've got what they're looking for, they probably won't care what level of degree you've got.

    Remember that the likes of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and even Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of university before moving on to build their empires. It worked out alright for them...

  3. Start a business after university

    The Apprentice UK

    Credit: BBC

    How about taking the leap and starting a business of your own? If Steve Jobs and Bill Gates can do it with no degree at all, imagine what you could do with a 2:2.

    Obviously this route can take time, but why not try a few of our small business ideas that you can start on your own and take it from there – you might find you've got a real entrepreneurial spirit.

    Even if you decide not to move forward in the end, having a flutter in the small-business world will look great when you mention it on your CV.

  4. Do an internship to gain work experience

    The internship movie

    Credit: 20th Century Fox

    A good way to get your foot in the door of a company you're keen to work for is to enquire about an internship. If successful, you can then work at really impressing them in person rather than on paper.

    Admittedly some companies do set degree-level barriers for internships, but it's much easier to call up and talk yourself into an internship than a paid position.

    We don't advise taking on internships that offer no reimbursement at all (you deserve to get paid for your work), but if you do find yourself on an unpaid internship, we've got some tips on how to support yourself financially.

  5. Make your CV stand out

    Your degree qualifications might feel like the most important thing on your CV, but they only take up one small line. Once an employer has read through all of your great experience, those qualifications can be quickly forgotten about.

    Focus on making your CV sparkle with the kind of extras that many first-class grads may not even have. For example, try completing free online courses with qualifications, give freelancing a go, or even do some volunteering with a charity.

    And, depending on the job at hand, you could even opt for a creative, alternative CV that'll be very difficult to forget.

  6. Do a postgraduate degree

    students working together in library

    Did you find that you actually really enjoyed uni? If so, you shouldn't rule out the possibility of postgraduate study.

    You might think that you need the very top grades to be considered for postgraduate study, but this isn't always the case.

    If you've made a good impression and your lecturers know you're a hard worker, there's a chance that the university will waive the entry requirements and let you on board.

    And try not to let money put you off – the government now offers substantial master's loans to students on postgraduate degrees so it's well worth considering.

  7. Use your contacts to help you get a job

    People networking at event

    Credit: DGLimages – Shutterstock

    Now is the time to start thinking about anyone you know who works in the industry you want to get into.

    Pick up the phone, drop them an email, message them on LinkedIn or even send them a letter via carrier pigeon – whatever it takes to get the word out there that you're fresh on the graduate market and looking for a job.

    Often, you'll find that companies will let employee endorsement (a recommendation by someone who already works at the company) override any degree-level requirements – networking might not always be fun but, trust us, it's very, very useful.

Social media can be really influential when it comes to getting a job – check out our guide on how to use LinkedIn to get a job.

We hope this guide has put you at ease a little and reminded you that, regardless of your grade, you've just completed a degree, and that's a major achievement.

Your degree grade doesn't necessarily reflect your key work skills – like motivation, creativity and being a team player – and employers will often acknowledge this.

Your main aim now should be to get yourself out there and show the post-uni world what you've got.

Try using recruitment agencies to find a job – that's what they're there for, and they could give you the push you need to get your dream graduate position.

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