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The importance of first time passes

15th Aug 2012
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Many recruitment companies would agree with the sentiment that in the current tough jobs market, the majority of their clients value first time passes in trainees more than ever before. Alex Miller reports.

This is especially true of larger firms, which continue to use ever-stricter criteria to whittle down applications.

Employers also like trainees to have completed their studies in good time, rather than taking a long time to complete exams. Rightly or wrongly, employers often assume trainees who have taken a long time to complete studies have had to sit retakes or have deferred.

Nicholas Kirk, managing director at Page Personnel Finance, said: “Companies are suffering a budget squeeze because of concerns about the Eurozone. Therefore employers have to be economic with their money and are more cautious in their approach to recruitment.

“Consequently they are forced to hold out for candidates that have the best CV. Initially it comes down to who looks better on paper and a perfect academic track record is always impressive.”

Firms are able to cherry-pick trainees based on more rigorous criteria than ever and these criteria can and do include preferences for candidates who have passed their exams first time. At the end of the day, employers want the best candidate and if you can fit into this elite category - you put yourself at a competitive advantage.

An additional incentive for trainees to pass their exams first time is the increasing number of employers that refuse to pay for re-sits.

For students who have had to re-sit, it is not all doom and gloom however. Workplace experience can often compensate - after all, theory is necessary, but practical application is arguably more important.

This tends especially to be the case for CIMA and ACCA trainees as their qualifications enable tangible work experience - often trainees work in industry for several years even before they start pursuing a qualification. For these trainees, practical work experience will undoubtedly set them apart from the competition.

Andy Dallas, director at Robert Half Financial Services said: “Many employers do find it important for individuals to have passed their exams the first time, particularly for ACA candidates. They want to see that someone is able to manage a workload while also studying and successfully passing as this shows they are organised, disciplined and take their careers seriously - a benchmark so to speak.

“There is a lot of pressure to pass their exams and while some employers will only look at exam results, others will take multiple considerations into account. Feedback from managers or clients on how they perform on their audit teams can be evidence of a candidate’s technical skills and business acumen.

“Soft skills, like teamwork, interpersonal abilities and communication with internal and external publics can also be measured.” 


Replies (5)

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By david5541
15th Aug 2012 15:02

are there the jobs?

like all graduates (with the numbers of jobs for 16-24 year-olds having declined since 2003-and pay rates with them along with Quack degree subjects and examining bodies)-non relevant or relevant degree subject accountancy students have to show they can do alot better or otherwise be willing to work for nothing for longer and be supported by their parents such as happened in the days when ACA training was done by correspondence course and you had to buy it when all apprentices were expected to live at home.

These days are coming back again sadly to haunt us all-forget about owning your own home soon after you start out in your career with the huge student debt students carry.


when it comes down to it:

"Soft skills, like teamwork, interpersonal abilities and communication with internal and external publics can also be measured.”  

and work experience count the most unless you are lucky enough to have a rich daddy to help you through the first time passes.

Thanks (1)
By justsotax
15th Aug 2012 16:05

@david....would agree...

dread the thought that the 'big employers' consider the soft skills as well....and then down the line they wonder why the client hasn't quite bonded with the new manager....(personality bypass and all that)

Thanks (1)
By mikewhit
16th Aug 2012 14:50

Business experience

So the company ends up recruiting people who have never had to cope with having to have a second go at things when they didn't go according to plan the first time ...

That sounds like a good strategy.

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By User deleted
17th Aug 2012 10:54

How many currently in practice ...

Have taken exams more than once - and would they admit to it?

Equally any member of the public wishes to employ the best, whether plumber, electrician or accountant - so how does a member of the public ascertain the 'best' accountant

What benchmark of hard & soft skills can be used to determine the best in a particular field - and does being the best in a particular area change over time, so that 30 years on are historic exams of any real relevance

Thanks (1)
By philh74a
17th Aug 2012 11:57

Everyone's experience is different

My view is, yes, 1st time passes are great but everyone will have different pressures and responsibities if they are working. Someone managing a team of 4 in a very busy role and then having to take all 4 final papers at once (like me) is far different to someone in a lower level role, in at 9 and straight out the door at 5 on the dot who can allocate far more time to studying.

I didn't pass the final paper 1st time but had achieved a 4th place commendation in a prior paper which I believe has similar value.

Work experience and achievements are more mportant than 1st time passes I reckon as they show what you have done in the real world , not just that you are good at passing exams.

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