What to do if your degree results aren’t as good as you’d hoped

Graduation image, with graduation caps being thrown in the air

If you are disappointed with your degree results, try to get things in perspective and don’t feel like you have cut off your career options. Remember there are thousands of companies that hire graduates every year and many companies care more about the person they are hiring rather than the mark on their certificate.

Flexibility and resilience are key skills in today’s job market, so it’s time to start practising them. Here are the practical steps you can take to help you achieve your career goals.

Do you have a conditional job offer?

If you have a conditional job offer, contact the company to let them know the situation. Your job offer depended on many criteria including how you performed in the application process. If you have impressed them enough, they may have some flexibility, and you won’t know unless you ask. They may also be impressed with your initiative!

Companies with flexible entry requirements

You may have heard that all graduate schemes will only accept a 2:1, but this is not the case. EY, FDM, Lloyds, Civil Service Fast Stream, PwC, Sky, MI5 and Nationwide accept candidates with a 2.2. Many engineering firms (such as Jaguar Land Rover, Atkins and BAE Systems) will look at graduates with a 2.2. Companies often look beyond degree classifications and use their own internal assessments to find the right people.

Read this article from Target Jobs for more companies that accept 2.2s for their graduate schemes and jobs.

Applying for 2025 Graduate Schemes

The next graduate recruitment cycle will open this summer. Make sure you create a Surrey Pathfinder graduate account and check our jobs board so that you can apply early for next year’s graduate schemes. Also register your interest on company websites.

Create my graduate account

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

If a 2:1 or above is a requirement on the job advert, you should contact the company before starting your application. That way you can establish whether it a firm rule or whether it is just something that is on the company’s ‘nice to have’ list. Most candidates will not have ALL the requirements, so it is definitely worth checking before discounting it.

Employers will always look at individual circumstances, so if you have underperformed due to illness, family bereavement or similar it is worth alerting them to these circumstances in job applications.

Apply to SMEs or Startups

The big graduate recruiters represent a small part of the graduate recruitment market, and there are plenty of opportunities in the Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) and Startup sector. The good news is that these companies are often more flexible with their entry requirements and focus on you as an individual.

You will find job advertisements on Surrey Pathfinder, and these companies tend to recruit all year so you could find something to start soon.

Careers Guidance

  • Book an appointment with a careers consultant to talk over your options. They can view things from an informed and impartial perspective, and help you explore your ideas in a confidential environment. Book via Surrey Pathfinder.
  • Have another look at your CV. Does it highlight your current skillset? Make sure you add your soft skills – like customer service and teamwork – as well as your technical skills. Help get your CV in top shape by reading our Writing Effective CVs and Cover Letters or using our online CV checker CV360 for students or graduates.
  • If you want to create a CV that wows employers, a cover letter that shows why you are the best candidate for a role, a Linked profile that stands out, or get tips for success at interview then come to our summer webinar series running through July. Book your place on Surrey Pathfinder.
  • If you have not found your graduate position yet, join a temping agency to help hone your office skills; you may be surprised at how valuable these are in the job market. Temping agencies tend to have their offices in main towns so have a walk round to see which ones operate in your area or search for ‘Recruitment Agencies’ using yell.com.
    – Read our leaflet on Recruitment Agencies

Start Networking

Time spent investing in your LinkedIn profile will be well worth it. Extending your professional network online could provide some useful links to opportunities and you can research Surrey alumni from your course to see what they are doing now. You can also find professional organisations for your sector who may arrange networking events which are a good source of industry information.

You could also join Surrey Connects – Surrey’s own networking site for Surrey students and graduates.

Get disappointment into perspective

You are only at the start of your working life, so don’t feel pressured into finding the ‘perfect’ job immediately. It’s worth remembering that most people with a 2.2 or below go on to have successful and fulfilling careers.


Further Reading