Do Acadmic Results Matter?

In the aftermath of the #LeavingCertResults and impending #CAO offers, students take heed: academic qualifications are not everything. EY is to remove the academic qualifications filter in its graduate and school-leaver recruitment programmes, thereby improving chances for a more diverse workforce in the future.

In the UK, EY has decided to remove academic qualifications from its application filter for graduate and school leaver programmes from 2016. After extensive research, EY found that attaining good academic results at third level does not necessarily mean success at the firm.

EY wants to recruit the very best talent, and recognizes that they have a better chance to attain this by broadening access to the profession. They acknowledge that there are lots of different skills and talents that people from many walks of life can offer the organisation. EY will only consider academic qualifications once they have a better idea of the totality of what a candidate can offer. EY will emphasize the key strengths of people that do well at EY, like sales ability, communication skills and networking; competencies less subject to the biases of how and where candidates have grown up, including their academic qualifications and affiliations.

“‘As one of the UK’s largest graduate recruiters, we believe we have a social obligation to break down the barriers that exclude talented people from certain backgrounds. It’s our hope that this new process will encourage those who would never have previously thought to apply for a role at EY to consider it. We want a more diverse culture at EY to drive us forward, and ultimately deliver better results for our clients.” (quote from Maggie Stiwell,, date accessed 11 August 2015).

Recognizing that academic qualifications do not predict the performance and potential of future employees, may take some of the pressure off students, who may fear that anything less than perfect results disqualify them from access to jobs with great companies. Don’t misinterpret this however, academic results are still important, but EY will now consider these secondarily to other qualities and abilities in candidates. This suggests that organisations are increasingly more aware of other valuable attributes candidates can bring to the organisation. Talent management includes assessing both the potential and performance of employees (future potential, current performance), with those scoring high on both fronts (potential and performance) being highly sought after in the ‘war for talent’.