in construction, engineering and surveying for 2.2 graduates – TARGETjobs

‘I have got a 2.2 in my degree. How can I start a career in construction, civil engineering and quantity surveying?’ We investigate which employers accept job applications from candidates who haven’t got a 2.1.
If you are looking for jobs with a 2.2 degree, the truth is that they will be harder to find than if you have a 2.1. But unlike in some other career sectors, a good number of construction, engineering and surveying employers do open their graduate programmes to people with 2.2s. The construction industry has always been more interested in a candidate’s skills (particularly their people skills, management abilities and practical approaches to problem-solving) than in their on-paper academic qualifications.
NB: This is not an exhaustive list.
Construction, engineering and surveying jobs can open up all year round, so search targetjobs regularly for vacancies and check their entry requirements.
It’s also worth investigating opportunities with smaller employers who may be more flexible when it comes to your degree result. A number of construction employers also allow you to register your interest in the company and submit a CV ‘on spec’; they will be in contact when a suitable role opens up.
Even when applying to employers who accept 2.2s, you’ll still be up against students who have a 2.1 or a first. To put it bluntly, you need to write an outstanding application.
On your CV, in your covering letter or when answering appropriate application questions, clearly outline what you have done to further your interest in construction. These actions could include:
During the lockdowns and the early phases of the pandemic, many of the above activities were paused – in 2020 many construction employers had to cancel their placements, for example. Don’t worry too much about there being a gap on your CV for this period; employers know that it was an unprecedented time and will not expect to see a ‘busy’ or ‘full’ CV for 2020 and 2021. That said, it will improve your chances of getting hired if you are able to show that you have spent time during lockdown and since pursuing your passion for the industry – this could be by noting on your CV the details of any industry-related webinars or virtual networking events you have attended.
Plus, even if a piece of work experience or an extracurricular activity doesn’t seem relevant to the construction industry at all, the chances are it will be more relevant than you think. For example, if you shelf-stacked at a supermarket, you would have multi-tasked when interrupted by customers with enquiries. When working on a construction site you will need to demonstrate similar skills. Identify and make the most of these points of similarity in your application.
Get suggestions for how to write up your lockdown experiences on your CV .
All construction employers want to hire graduates who want to work for them in particular – not just any employer and definitely not their biggest competitors! As such, the graduate recruiters who accept 2.2s are likely to take a well-researched and considered application from a candidate with a 2.2 over a sloppy, generic application from a candidate with a first.
So, research the employer thoroughly and use your findings to substantiate your reasons for applying. For example, if you are stating that you are applying to a company because of its range of projects, write about specific projects – say why they impress you and make you want to work for the company.
Large built environment employers typically use online tests as a way of ‘sifting’ candidates, setting test scores as a cut-off point to differentiate between applicants. (The most common tests set by employers in construction, engineering and surveying are numeracy, inductive reasoning and situational judgement.) You will usually need to pass these before you get to see an interviewer and so it is worth putting in the time to do as many practice tests as possible.
Access free and paid-for practice aptitude and psychometric tests.
This really does depend on the individual employer. One or two 2.1-seeking employers have told us in the past that they might accept a 2.2 if a candidate has achieved a distinction or high grade in a masters-level qualification – but this is by no means guaranteed. It’s also not borne out by the information on firms’ recruitment websites.
Our advice is to contact a range of employers to get a feel for whether postgraduate study will be worth the expense and time if you need to make up for your undergraduate results.
If your grade is due to extenuating circumstances (for example, bereavement or a period of illness – including Covid-19), you can usually still apply to the employers that normally require a 2.1. ‘We look at genuine circumstances that have prevented the students from obtaining the grade they were hoping for,’ says Melissa Hopper, UK and Ireland early careers talent acquisition manager at Mott MacDonald. ‘Each case is looked at on an individual basis.’
To confirm whether 2.1-seeking employers will consider your application, look at their graduate recruitment website or contact the recruitment team (via email, phone or face to face at a careers fair).
Read our advice on what to say to employers about mitigating circumstances .
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