GCSE/A-Level Results on Graduate Job Applications: thoughts?

I’m writing this in response to two graduate job applications that I have seen now that require a university degree to apply, as well as for you to stipulate all of your GCSE, AS & A2 results in your application – which, considering the DISASTROUS government grading algorithm during the pandemic, seems even more relevant.

Some of this has been taken directly from the cover letter I wrote whilst applying for one of the jobs – needless to say, I never heard back from the employer. If you’re somehow reading this, Palladian Publishing, consider sending out rejection emails to those unsuccessful; it is infuriating to receive no response from employers, although that often seems to be the norm and understandable considering many jobs have hundreds of applicants, but that doesn’t mean one can’t send out an auto-generated rejection to keep job seekers informed – but that’s a discussion for another time.

“I am intrigued by your request for A-Level and GCSE results to be stipulated on the CV; I do not believe that these are in any way indicative of one’s intelligence or ability to work effectively, passionately, and to the highest standard. For example, whilst my GCSE results were brilliant, my A-levels were atrocious and I was on the benefit of extenuating circumstances – had I not had those, and also taken the initiative to see myself through external examinations at the same time by my university to guarantee my placement, I would not have reached the grade criteria for a placement at university. In turn, I would not have graduated with an incredible 2.1 Honours, or gotten to study to an MA level. Furthermore, GCSE and A-Level grades are outdated, even more so now that the grading system has changed to numerical, and there is proven research that BAME candidates consistently underperform at GCSE and A-Level despite their intelligence. I do not believe, especially in 2020, that this is a criteria you should judge a potential candidate on.

“To prove one’s ability to excel in academia, you should not look for proof they can study (at a juvenile level) a curriculum and subject fields that do not serve their best interest or career aspirations. What will my A grade in Physics, or my A* in Chemistry bring to this role? The job description states that ‘common sense is essential’ in the ideal candidate. How can one reflect common sense in academic intelligence? The ability to memorise and recite test answers, or communicate how De Quincy’s Confessions of an English Opioid Eater influenced many a writer to ruin does not equate to one’s ability to know that masks will help reduce the spread of an aerosol based virus. Perhaps my U at Biology AS Level was mismarked.”

Oddly enough, this was written before the downgrading fiasco. I feel so sorry for those students who’s plans for university have been so unjustly derailed. How would these students feel, if forced to reveal grades obtained during this period, when applying for jobs? They would, on paper, be immediately under-qualified – and for absolutely no academic based reasoning at all, purely because the algorithm decided their home post code was not good enough.

What are your thoughts on including GCSE & A-Level grades on job applications? There is no clean-cut alternative for foreign applicants either, as grades do not translate well. Not to mention, the recent switch from A-U to 1-9. I remember my former housemate, a Polish native, trying to determine what her grades would have been for a job application, and I also remember how frustrating it was for her. I know a friend who was denied a job opportunity because he got one of his GCSE grades incorrect when applying – who is expected to remember grades from more than ten years ago, when you have not only a degree but real world experience, and further education qualifications more relevant to the field you’re applying in than a C in Geography?

The featured image is myself and my best pal Emily, picking up our own A level results in 2016. We both now have MA’s and she has a fantastic graduate job in Pharmacy.

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