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is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??

 
#1 is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
17/12/2007 08:53

anonymous

I received a 2.2 in Economics and Management from LSE through the University of London's distance learning programme.

What my grade doesn't show is that whilst studying for my degree at a distance I also held an international career in the strategy teams of one of the big-name oil and gas companies and gained an accounting qualification.

I'm now looking to join strategy consulting at the associate level.

My question is are the leading firms really going to automatically reject my CV on the account that I did not receive a 1st or 2.1 or will they look at each CV on an individual basis.

While a high grade like a 1st or 2.1 is certainly an indication of academic success - it doesn't really take into account HOW the degree has been studied. I certainly think my 2.2 was a success as it has honed my analytical skills and helped me achieve my personal goals - are these firms likely to view it in the same way?

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#2 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
17/12/2007 22:23

anon to anonymous (#1)

A 2.2 is pretty much the be all and end all, yes.

In my opinion, if you can't get a 2.1 then you don't deserve much of my time as an employer, they aren't exactly that difficult to get no matter what else you're up to.

However, if you have held an international career as you put it then you should be able to leverage this to your advantage. You won't exactly be going for grad/analyst roles with your experience.

Please don't come up with excuses for how you studied however - these won't get you anywhere and most people won't believe them/care. Focus on the positives. Avoid mentioning the negatives.

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#3 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
17/12/2007 22:54

d to anon (#2)

Unfortunately for you firms use the degree classification as a screening tool.

All you can do is highlight the positives in your cover letter and cross your fingers that:

1) They read it

2) They see beyond the 2.2

But to be honest I wouldn't hold out much hope - it is too time consuming for firms to try and weed out the one or two golden apples with 2.2s. They have sufficient candidates with 1sts that they don't need to do it

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#4 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
18/12/2007 08:25

Anon to d (#3)

A desmond (aka 2:2) is just not acceptable to a consulting firm. If you aim for experienced hire positions and your skills are highly desirable then the firm may let you in with a 2:2. Other than that you can kiss a career in consulting gooodbye. Well at lease the reputable firms. I mean, how would you feel if you were a client and found out that the man you were paying £1000 a day for, had a 2:2! As for accounting qualifications, they are good if you complete the whole certification but they are not a substitute for a bachelors degree.<br> GO FIGURE!

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#5 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
18/12/2007 10:46

recentgrad to Anon (#4)

Surely, if you've already proved you can do it at a big firm, why would people worry about your degree? If you're moving from some rubbish job at BigOil to a much better job somewhere else then fair enough, but if it's a lateral switch why would they care?

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#6 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
18/12/2007 11:11

anal-ist to Anon (#4)

Anon,

There's tons of conteactors out there who don;t have degrees/have 2.2's. Clients are more than happy to pay for them if they have the skills.

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#7 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
18/12/2007 11:23

anonymous to recentgrad (#5)

Wow guys, thanks for your honest and frank comments - being the optimist that I am - I still feel I may be in for a chance if I focus on the positives - here's a little bit more about my background. Each role has been international in nature, reporting direct to C-level and highly analytical.

Do you think recruiters among the reputable firms still place me on the automatic rejection pile or would they consider taking the 'risk' given my transferrable skills?

Age: 27 yrs

EDUCATION

LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS,

BSc Economics and Management II(ii)

CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTANTS

Chartered Mgt Accountant (ACMA)

4 A-levels : AAAA

10 GCSEs: 7A* 3A

WORK EXPERIENCE

UNDISCLOSED OIL COMPANY, Strategy Manager (2 yrs)

ANGLO AMERICAN, Business Analyst (2 yrs)

DELOITTE, Internship during gap year before university (1 yr)

LANGUAGES

English, German, French and Arabic (under study)

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#8 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
18/12/2007 11:46

The Senior Vice President to anonymous (#7)

With all due respect, I think you need a reality check. Your academics are fricking amazing.

Yeah, you have a 2(ii)... but it's from LSE in a very respectable subject (the fact that you got into LSE in the first place is in my opinion confirmation that raw academic intelligence is NOT an issue as far as you are concerned). You also have incredible A-levels/GCSEs (bearing in mind you did them before the days of significant dumbing down), are CIMA qualified, have loads of languages AND some good relevant experience too. Sheesh, if you don't have the raw materials an employer needs, who does?

At your level, you shouldn't really be filling in 'application forms' anyway. As far as I'm aware, those things are used for wading through / filtering applications in the hundreds. Anyone who really has a serious need for an experienced hire and isn't interviewing 10,000 candidates per vacancy will be willing to spend 5 seconds glancing at your CV, assuming it's in response to an advertised position and not just a speculative application.

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#9 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
18/12/2007 11:59

The Senior Vice President to The Senior Vice President (#8)

Incidentally, I'd forget making 'excuses'... you really don't need to apologise for your excellent CV. Making excuses also draws attention to some numbers which, as far as I can tell, don't seem to add up?

i.e.: According to the info you have posted, your age is 27 yrs and you studied for your degree whilst working for an oil company. You also state that you have 5 years total work experience and a CIMA qualification. So... 27 minus 5 years at work equals 22. No need to deduct any years for BSc study, because you did this whilst working. I don't know how CIMA works, but lets be generous and say you studied full time for 2 years to gain this. That then takes you down to 20 yrs. So what did you do between age 18 (A-level completion) and 20 (or whichever 2 years it is that are currently unaccounted for)? Or more realistically, assuming you got the CIMA qualification whilst working (this is how it's normally done, isn't it?), what did you do during the 4 years that don't seem to be accounted for?

It may well be that it's all easily explained, however my over-riding point is that trying to make excuses when you really don't need to often just leads to further awkward questions.

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#10 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
18/12/2007 12:27

rb to The Senior Vice President (#9)

SVP - reality check

The academics are average, if not slightly below. You should be getting all these grades and a 2.1 as standard. Good academics are a 1st. Anyone can get good school grades.

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#11 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
18/12/2007 12:29

anonymous to The Senior Vice President (#9)

Hi Senior Vice President, sorry for the confusion - after gap year at age 18 I opted not to go to uni but temped (various accounting roles) and thus completed part of my CIMA. Whilst at Anglo finally qualified CIMA. I also started my degree as a mature student at age 23 which took 4 years to complete.

I tend not to mention the temping on my CV in great detail as it just adds unneccesarily length to my CV

Hope this clarifies things

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#12 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
18/12/2007 13:58

Anon to anonymous (#11)

With grades like that you cannot be thick but you may have been a foreign paying fee student and for £9000 you are welcome at any uni in England. Foreign students are how unis in this country earn their money!!

Consultancies are just picky but I am sure you will get in... just keep trying

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#13 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
18/12/2007 15:58

JStone to Anon (#12)

Anonymous:

I am a recent Masters graduate applying for jobs in MC, specifically strategy. I too received a 2.2 in my undergrad degree, which I was devastated with as I knew it could ruin my ambition to have a job in consultancy, due to the high level of candidates who apply to this area. However, I refused to be defeated. My 2.2 was due only to 3 poor module grades (heavily weighed) out of 17 modules, therefore, I was able to get into a well respected Masters course last year, straight after my undergraduate degree. With a lot of hard work I graduated with a Distinction in September. Since then I began applying to consulting and strategy firms, with a fairly positive response so far. I wouldn’t say that all firms overlooked my 2.2.now that I have my Masters (i.e. MBBB…) but other firms have done. Without my Masters, I would have been automatically rejected without interview for all consulting firms.

Why I am telling you this is because I thought as I read your post that a Masters may be a great option for yourself. You can argue until you are blue in the face with employers, friends, colleagues that you are academically capable and COULD or SHOULD have got a 2.1 - but only you know that and you can’t prove it – GCSE’s and A-Level’s are just not enough of an argument when applying for graduate style positions with only a few years work experience. I believe that the degree comes first when employers are looking and a 2.2 as your final academic achievement falls short, especially when they have a copious amount of 2.1’s and 1sts...

Therefore, why not prove you have what it takes – put yourself on the line one last time, do a Masters for 12months and prove you are better than a 2.2 candidate? Instead of just saying it and trying to debate it.

I would think that with your excellent GCSE’s, excellent A-Levels, good LSE degree and strong WExp that you wouldn’t have a problem getting into a good or v-good Masters course…doing a subject area related to consultancy…management, business etc…

It will be a short term financial hit, but I believe it will be worth it in the long-run – shake off that 2.2 once and for all, don’t argue that you are better than 2.2. – prove that you are...

People may say I am wrong here but I am only giving advice from my current perspective as a recent graduate and what I have found when applying.

Hope it helps.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

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#14 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
18/12/2007 17:31

was one of your GCSE's in english? to JStone (#13)

But he’s already had the experience to prove himself. I agree with SVP, don’t apply for grad posts, start small and work on from there.

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#15 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
19/12/2007 17:11

Village Idiot to anonymous (#7)

I don't work at one of the strategy houses, but I do work for one of the big name consultancies. Aside from your 2:2, your CV would tick all of the boxes that we look for at my firm. If your CV came across my desk I would probably offer you an initial interview on the basis of the strength of your CV, even with your 2:2.

As an experienced hire, I'm more interested in the fact that you have a degree (which is a deal-breaker) than the class of your degree (which we can work around). The strength of your professional experience, together with your ability to perform at interview, would be the main criteria against which we'd judge your fit with our team.

All kidding aside, if you're interested in pursuing a consulting career outside one of the strat houses, post some way to get in touch with you here and I'll point you in the right direction.

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#16 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
20/12/2007 07:52

R J Ohannesian to anonymous (#1)

I know that many on this board will advise you as to your chances (or lack thereof) of landing in a 'quality' firm with poor grades or test scores.

I can assure, what you can do FOR the client, in the end, is much more valuable than what you have done at the end of a busy day at work trying to plow through a distance-learning course at a God-forsaken hour. If that is their criteria of determination, perhaps it's not some place you'd like to call home.

I have been consulting, on and off, for the better part of a dozen years. I went to a very highly regarded university for undergraduate work. I did my MBA at a school that was well ranked, but also on my way home from my real occupation/career.

I have managed, in this age of technology, information dissemination and availability and a clear leveling of the playing field, to land with an up and coming consultancy that boasts public and private clients of every color and predicament. If a client is calling on a consultant, chances are he/she is deep enough in a hole from a process, strategy or execution standpoint that your services would be an instant and substantial upgrade. That is the norm, at least here in the states.

So while thousands can boast Ivy League degrees and tenures at 'top' consultancies, your real mettle and value can only be determined by what you do AFTER you graduate. Grades won't get you through a boardroom meeting at 7am when the company is contemplating Chapter 11 or retracting an IPO filing. Your dedication to your craft, your on-the-job relevant experience and your willingness to uncover truth and solutions will determine your fate as a business advisor.

My recommendation:

Understand consulting's many flavors, pitfalls and attributes.

Know what drives your passion and find a firm/line of consulting that fits with this passion.

Seek a career or executive coach willing to work your resume, your experiential development and your network. These advisors are not a flash in the pan, I can tell you most people who can offer you a job are also looking for one, and coaches serve as mentors and conduits to their next opportunity.

Lastly, know and believe that the beaten path is not the only one, and your value and personal experience in consulting will be all the richer for taking your own unique and comprehensive route to that position and occupation which satisfies you the most. And when there, your value to client will reveal itself, and will likely be most optimized.

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#17 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
20/12/2007 08:33

John O'Groats to R J Ohannesian (#16)

"I have managed, in this age of technology, information dissemination and availability and a clear leveling of the playing field, to land with an up and coming consultancy that boasts public and private clients of every color and predicament. If a client is calling on a consultant, chances are he/she is deep enough in a hole from a process, strategy or execution standpoint that your services would be an instant and substantial upgrade. That is the norm, at least here in the states. "

Hehe... You forgot to mention the unique ability to dynamically rip apart the modus operandi of the battlefield and dissect market discontinuities, performance envelopes and optimized strategic assets in a very specific fashion.

Only kidding! Once you strip out the corporate-speak, this is actually a pretty good post. ;-)

RJ has soon very good points - basically your real asset seems to be your experience, so make sure you really play on that strength in your applications!

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#18 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
20/12/2007 09:25

D to John O'Groats (#17)

But RJ can afford to preach as he is now working for a firm where he is presumably happy.

If the original poster is happy to go out there and find some small boutique with public and private clients of every colour and predicament then he/she should get on with it and follow RJ's advice.

If not, then all this talk of dazzling boardrooms is irrelevant as, with a 2:2, the original poster is unlikely to ever get the chance to show his/her worth.

The point is that education is a screening tool that cuts the number of CVs seriously reviewed down quickly and saves a huge amount of time. And, whether you believe it or not, having the background DOES matter, if only so that the partner can turn up to the final presentation and say

"Here is the team that has been working 15 hours a day on your case. They all have 1sts from Oxbridge"

It happens all the time and, like it or not, it reassures the client

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#19 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
20/12/2007 12:42

anon to D (#18)

if only so that the partner can turn up to the final presentation and say

"Here is the team that has been working 15 hours a day on your case. They all have 1sts from Oxbridge"

If any partner actually said or says this then they need shooting. The client would just think they were an idiot. Its the quality of the output (e.g. deliverable) that counts not the materials (consultants) that was used to make it.

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#20 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
20/12/2007 12:48

anon to anon (#19)

perception is everything, especially when a client hires a contulting team. Sure, the deliverable is important, but more is the status symbol

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#21 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
20/12/2007 13:00

anon to anon (#20)

"perception is everything"

as an ex consultant and now client I couldn't possibly disagree with you more. Maybe in the good old days you could get away with some smart shirts and oxbridge stuffed teams and limited value. Things are changing though, agree a proffesional image is important, but if you deliver me something that is truely insightful then I don't care if you only passed you SATS test aged 13.

Obviously top academics tend to produce better outputs, but the two don't always go together.

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#22 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
20/12/2007 13:44

Anonymous to anon (#21)

So anon,

So let me get this straight...

An overarching reason for the unshakable '1st from Oxbridge' criterion is that in order to sell their expensive consulting services to a prospective client before the actual product is delivered, consulting firms must dazzle them with vainglorious presentations about their consultants superiour education from top-tier universities as symbols of quality?

So is the point of the consulting selection procedure not really about sourcing the best candidate who, regardless of background, will actually help solve the clients real problem? Rather, is it about selecting a cadre of individuals from select circles who fit into the required 'image' and possess the relevant 'status symbols' such as world-class degrees, the right 'look' or connections which would evoke the desired air of prestige, but would not necessarily add any real value to the product?

Is this a reasonable analysis of the situation?

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#23 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
20/12/2007 14:24

Anon2 to Anonymous (#22)

We are talking about young people entering at a junior level here. All the firms want is a bunch of smart energetic people happy to work long hours and with a healthy dose of common sense.

They can recruit these people in lots of places, but the highest proportion of suitable people will be at a few places (elite universities and business schools), so they mostly recruit there.

All the stuff about subsequently doing well on the job is true as well, but they only need to promote a handful to fill their limited numbers of more senior roles, so they can afford to ignore entirely the few golden apples in the other baskets of applicants. Consulting is not hard and plenty of people can excel at it, so there is simply little to no room at the top firms for people that fall down on one criteria (which, let's face it, if it is education is pretty important).

It is not about the client not caring who gets the work done. It is about the consulting firm maximising their chances of hiring people that will get the job done.

Perception is everything when selling projects to the client. Take life sciences as an example. You will not get any work unless you have a team of people that either have advanced degrees from top schools and/or MBAs from top schools. And when you are on client development you highlight this fact to the potential client, unless you are an idiot.

Sure, once you have a relationship established this becomes a moot point as long as the work is good, but you have to win the clients in the first place.

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#24 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
20/12/2007 23:49

RJ Ohannesian to anonymous (#1)

I'm glad to see some other perspectives have joined the fray.

I can't stress enough how a consultancy's track record of satisfied clients and quantified engagement successes are the key selling point for new business, and that yes, we can 'boast' about the grade averages and high-end degrees in our stable of consultants, but that and a five dollar bill will get you an overpriced cup of coffee.

Consultant value is developed on the job, not in the classroom. The classrooms give you the basics, SOME of the tools, and SOME of the critical thinking methods and training required in consultancy. I understand the recruiting is made easier by tossing everything but the elite degrees into the "NO" pile. But I'd be curious to see how pedigree directly adds to profit. I'd imagine there is little to no correlation, and the success of the firm almost entirely depends on knowing what the heck the client is failing at, and crafting feasible and cost-effective solutions to right the ship. I'd go even further and suggest that 'idea firms' that are light in execution may soon go the way of the dodo bird (as they well should). It's easy for me as a consultant to tell you what to do and take my 200-500k per public co. engagement. But I will find my potential client pool dwindling in lean times, and will find up and comers who THINK and EXECUTE eating away more and more of my market share because they deliver more value through strategy and execution services, vs. simply the former.

Again, I'm speaking of MY experience. Consulting is a fantastic occupation. It is truly fun (along with grueling and maddening and often counter-intuitive considering life/work balance). I would suggest to someone contemplating consulting, that they steer themselves towards those firms and environments where they feel they can have fun and incidentally make some good pocket change.

What we may have failed to touch upon here is the culture of incessant (and often infantile) competition that's invasive in elite prep schools, and top universities, business or law schools. That culture tend to bleed into the top consultancies as well, creating an aristocracy that is more important to the firm members, than it really is to the client or the bottom line. That seems to be a culture, that to the reasonable and sober professional in today's marketplace, isn't as appealing or even rewarding as it may have been less than a generation ago.

I applaud those who had the diligence and cognitive ability to master their coursework in their teens and early twenties. How that really translates to quality consulting work and developing profit-enhancing and market-broadening solutions and services, is a completely different question.

I wish you great luck and can't overemphasize the need to plot your career course wisely and comprehensively. This will help you avoid the pigeon-holing that sets up so many a consultant into practices or firms they simply detest after a while.

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#25 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
02/01/2008 22:01

Anonny Moose to Anon (#4)

Have to say that, as a Programme Office Manager - I'm amazed with the calibre of some of the consultants we recieve from, supposedly, one of the top firms (think, A********). Yes, wonderfully academics but all the people skills of anthrax....seriously, can't tar everyone with the same brush but academia is not the be all and end all.

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#26 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
08/03/2008 07:51

Expat to Anonny Moose (#25)

I agree with the comments above. A few years back I was doing political risk consulting and was the only member of my department without a Master's degree (or indeed an undergraduate degree in a relevant field). I got the job because of my in-the-field experience.

Later, when I was recruiting people to the team, where they studied and what degree they got was never a major consideration - professional experience and track record always, without exception, trumped educational achievements.

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#27 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
09/03/2008 07:42

for what it is worth to Expat (#26)

This is always a challenge.

The points are these.

Even if you got onto a grad scheme you would be bored and frustrated surrounded by spotty 22 year olds who need to get their mothers to tie their shoelaces.

You would not get in via the standard HR channel as your application would be read by a box ticker

If you depserately want to get into consulting, you should (I am assuming you work for a good level oil company in strategy) you are going to need an MBA or to leverage of current contacts - you must surely be a client to some of the strat houses now. I am sure you have the ability but you are going to have to be creating as to your route in. A part of me does agree with others on the 2:2 though. I find it hard to believe that you could not conjour up a 2:1 as you seem to be a bright guy. The person who thinks that CIMA is worth less than a degree should attempt CIMA. It is a bi#tch and you did well to complete it. you should have gone straight to MBA though. You did not need the Bsc. It actually weakens your profile because you finished it so late.

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#28 RE: is a 2.2 really the be all and end all??
09/03/2008 16:37

A_client to for what it is worth (#27)

"how would you feel if you were a client and found out that the man you were paying £1000 a day for, had a 2:2!"

Well, I've been a client on occasion and am presently in the middle of choosing a strategy firm for a piece of work. I couldn't care less what degree you've got. In fact, I've never asked any management consultant what degree they have, it's irrelevant to me.

I've used two of the three MBB firms in the past. On one project, the MBB firm had some incredibly academic consultants who were totally useless. The whole project was a disaster (largely because none of the consultants had ever worked in industry).

Personally:

- It's the quality of the particular consultancy team that counts, not the firm.

- Academics are irrelevant to me as a client.

- I MUCH prefer to hire a consultancy team that includes some 'experienced hires' who have actually worked in industry before consulting.

All the best

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