I graduated aged 26. My A Levels, a distant 8 years previous, were a black mark on my CV. I thought, however, my First Class Chemistry degree and raft of extra-curricular activities would more than make up for a set of grades that no longer represented the person I was. Turns out, as with the majority of my A Level exam questions, I was wrong.
Like any good student, I spent my second and third year at university searching for graduate opportunities. I was passionate about chemistry, but had a young family to support, so the PhD route was out of the question. Out of necessity, I looked for graduate roles; mainly with Times Top 100 companies. I had graduated top of my class, so thought I would more than hold my own in any such organisation.
The application process invariably commenced with the completion of an online form. I completed 70 of these. The process became irksome once I had filled in my GCSE grades for the 30th time. It was a necessary evil, so I continued, undeterred. What was completely soul-destroying, utterly energy sapping, devastating and depressing, was the host of automated responses I received after clicking “apply”. Many thanks for your application, however, you have been unsuccessful on this occasion. Brilliant.
After a little digging, I found the automated response was triggered by my A Level results. They were insufficient to proceed my application further. 96% in Advanced Organic Chemistry was obviously less relevant than a C in A Level German. Go figure.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, an accountants, has realised the inefficacy of this method and are removing the A Level grade as a selection tool. The firm cites such a method as a “hindrance to social mobility”. Up until this change, the company had rejected applicants who failed to reach the minimum A Level grade threshold.
A Level grade barriers could preclude talented individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, hence the reason for PwC’s shift in criteria.
PwC receives up to 17 applicants per vacancy, so measures to whittle down these application numbers are a necessary evil. It is nigh on impossible to differentiate effectively between candidates who all have similar credentials on paper. You have to feel sympathy for firms who receive such volumes of application numbers. A Level grades represented one way of reducing applicant numbers to a manageable size.
Technology provides scope to improve drastically on this method. We live in a day and age where we are able to rank web pages according to the relevance of information they contain. Why can’t we do that with people? Students should be able to upload information about all that they are capable of. We then should be able to use this content to gain a clear picture of a students abilities. This information will then allow us to make a better choice at differentiating between individuals, selecting them on their all round merits as opposed to isolated measures of achievement such as grades.
Kloodle is building this system.