10 useful tips for getting rewarding third-class degree jobs

Updated 11 May 2023

Earning a third-class degree after spending at least three years at university or college may be disappointing. Fortunately, there are still many high-paying and respectable jobs available to graduates with this class of degree, but you may need help finding them. This discovery helps you identify the factors that may help you compete with first-class graduates and get the job you want. In this article, we discuss third-class degree jobs, highlight what to expect when searching for jobs and provide tips to help you begin your career in virtually any field.

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What are third-class degree jobs?

Third-class degree jobs are roles that any graduate may obtain regardless of their results. Although your degree category is instrumental to your chances of getting jobs, some employers place less of an emphasis on your degree grade. Many organisations focus on what a candidate may do for them and the value they add to the organisation. This degree class makes you eligible for a master's degree programme in many institutions. From lawyers to professors, many who finished school with a third-class degree became successful professionals and enjoyed rewarding careers.

Related: How to calculate cumulative GPA for university (Plus tips)

Searching for jobs with a third-class degree

There are many misconceptions about graduating with a third-class degree. Learning the realities of your situation helps you remain calm and take the right steps towards achieving a successful career. Here is what you may want to know after graduating with a third-class degree:

  • Fewer job options. Due to the litany of graduates in the labour market, many employers raise their academic qualification criteria, preferring first-class and second-class degree holders for jobs. Being aware of this information helps you develop a viable strategy to increase your options.

  • Your degree is valuable. While seeking a more prestigious degree is common, earning a third-class degree is still useful for your career. Applying the knowledge you gained as a student makes a significant difference in your career aspirations.

  • Be ready for a few rejections. Some organisations may require you to have at least a second-class degree. Prepare for the occasional disappointment and keep applying for jobs until you get the one you desire.

  • Some employers focus more on your capabilities. Recruitment managers may focus on practical, applicable value in their teams. Increase your chances of getting jobs by developing relevant practical skills, gaining experience and studying further.

  • Consider a master's degree. If you're afraid that your academic journey has ended, know that third-class degrees let you enrol in many master's programmes. Search for your desired university or college, confirm their admission requirements and choose from their learning options.

  • Your degree doesn't determine your future. Although formal education helps you succeed, many influential innovators, CEOs and public figures didn't graduate. It's natural to regret graduating with a low score, but it does not mean you've failed.

Related: What are honours degree grades?

Tips for getting a job with a third-class degree

There are always many graduates looking for their first job opportunities in the labour market. In some cases, many first and second-class degree holders struggle to find a decent job, meaning those with lower degrees may struggle even more. To get a job with a third-class degree, here are some helpful tips:

1. Take responsibility for your actions

Finishing school with less than a second-class degree may be disappointing, but it's certainly not the end of your job search. Assess your time at university and admit what you did wrong and right. Not only does introspection enable you to take responsibility for your actions, but it also helps you identify errors to avoid in the future.

Related: Personal responsibility: importance, attributes and tips

2. Be realistic about your options

Perhaps the most important step to starting a career is to be realistic about your current situation. Realistically, job options are fewer for candidates with a third-class degree, as many large organisations prefer to recruit graduates with at least second-class honours.

There are various options to improve your chances of getting a good job. You may redo your undergraduate course, go for a postgraduate degree or hope to find a job with your current degree. Redoing your undergraduate course is tricky as you may no longer have access to student loans. Leaving a three-year gap within your CV may also spark unwanted curiosity. Your prospective employer may ask you why you redid your degree in an interview. In this case, try to be honest and note your improvements.

Related: How to set objectives effectively: a comprehensive guide

3. Start a postgraduate or master's programme

A postgraduate programme may be a viable solution to any problems you encounter during your job search. Postgraduate programmes take approximately one year of study. Although a postgraduate degree improves your career aspirations, it doesn't necessarily negate your previous degree. Postgraduate degrees don't equate to a first-class undergraduate degree. Due to this, you may prefer instead to take an online professional course in your field. These courses usually have minimal entry requirements and flexible schedules. Some high-ranking universities and colleges even offer these courses. These courses aim to boost not only your knowledge but also your self-confidence.

Related: What master's degree should I get? (With benefits)

4. Get some work experience

Once you complete your studies, start looking for jobs. Bear in mind that you may mostly find low-paying jobs in smaller organisations. Consider taking an offer for the sake of gaining experience. While working, ensure you improve your practical knowledge of what you studied. See this experience as an opportunity to move beyond your degree. Whatever you lack in skills or grades, make up for it with hard work, attentiveness and dedication. Experience is essential to virtually any position. Many employers prefer recruiting candidates with practical knowledge over untested first-class graduates.

5. Network

Without a second-class or first-class degree, you may need some assistance finding jobs with competitive salaries. Besides grades, employers prefer to recruit candidates with a referee they trust, making the on-boarding process simpler and quicker. Ensure to prioritise networking. Find mentors and acquaint yourself with industry innovators who know your abilities so they may vouch for you. You might also speak with friends and former classmates who are now working with large corporations. Attend networking events with them and join in on intelligent conversations, displaying your vast knowledge.

6. Become an innovator

One of the most effective ways of gaining employment is being innovative. For instance, the government and major tech corporations usually recruit computer programmers who show an aptitude for building sophisticated software packages or responding to cyber security trends. Meanwhile, other large organisations employ promising individuals with impressive business ideas, product prototypes or community development projects. Start a project, request grants or join a competition, and you might end the process with a new job.

7. Write an outstanding CV

A well-written CV makes an interviewer concentrate on your strengths. Ensure your CV contains highlights of your academic endeavours and the useful skills you developed. You want the interviewer to spend less time on the education section and more time on sections containing details of your exploits. Write an emphatic professional summary, outline your experience with powerful language and list your most notable skills that are also relevant to the job description. Highlight your roles, tasks, targets and achievements. You may consider finding a professional CV writer to help you draft this document.

Related: 7 best CV writing services to consider (With key benefits)

8. Focus on your passion

Perhaps your degree score emanated from low interest in what you studied. It's significantly easier to succeed when you're reading materials and paying attention to discussions that interest you. Start working on areas that fascinate you and develop your passions. For instance, if you like writing, painting or taking pictures, consider developing these skills. There are many courses to help you start a career and get a job in these fields. Focus on your passions and strengths when choosing your next project or further education programme.

9. Learn how to communicate

Unlike many first-class and second-class graduates, your grades aren't the most impressive features you possess. Compensate for this by adopting vital skills employers look for in candidates. Communication skills are important soft skills that give you an advantage over other candidates. You need this skill to convince, inform, share ideas and charm your way into any discussion. Use this skill to draw the interviewer's attention to your capabilities rather than your grades.

Related: Getting a master's in communication (Types and job info)

10. Inspire others

Many people are in the same situation as you, and your success may inspire them to pursue their ambitions. Later in your career, you may consider holding events for undergraduates with poor grades and third-class graduates. Share your struggles and successes and offer them options for career advancements. With time, you may start a career by motivating others to achieve their goals regardless of their degrees.

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