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.”