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When Does Your Grade No Longer Matter To Employers?

How long until your ‘degree class’ becomes unimportant?

“It is no longer important to include your ‘degree class’ in your CV after many years of graduation from the university. If you graduate in 2008 (which is 10 years ago!), a prospective employer wouldn’t take you seriously when you emphasize on your CV that you made an Upper Second Class honors degree 10 or 15 years ago. After 10 or 15 years of graduation potential employers are more interested in what you did with your degree in the 10 or 15 years after graduation more than they would care about the class of your degree.

“Of course you can find a space somewhere between ‘education’ and ‘interests and extra-curricular activities’ where you can indicate that you were the best graduating student in your university class, in those days. That might even interest the prospective employer more than your degree class would. But at any rate, after 10 or 15 years of graduation, what you did with your degree since graduation is more important to the prospective employer (and to the society too!) than the ‘weight’ of that same degree when you received it.”

We agree with him. It’s actually not rocket science. Your experience over 10 years trumps any education you had in 4 years. However, it may still be a tie breaker. When all candidates perform equally or have almost same strengths, the employer may decide to pick one with better academic background, if only to boast that “First Class works for me” or to love-vendor up their corporate profile on their website etc. Something like “Richard John is our Head of Strategy. He is a First Class graduate of Political Science from…”

This is however largely applicable to Nigerian labour market. It may not at all in many countries, especially in the West. However, school attended (even for just first degree) continues to have value in many countries, especially the US and UK. If you attended an Ivy League university 30 years ago, it will forever continue to be to your advantage. It can be a decider in position today. Interestingly, unlike grade, the reverse of this is the case in Nigeria. After 5 years experience, employers hardly care about your school’s prestige again. When considering an external candidate for Senior Manager in say NNPC, it may not matter whether he attended Ahmadu Bello University or Ado Ekiti Polytechnic, but it may matter whether an external candidate went to Stanford or UNILAG when being considered for a Manager role in Microsoft


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