How to Deal with Disappointing Exam Results on Your Curriculum Vitae.

It’s a fact that stellar grades and education from top schools can often open many doors to job opportunities and career success.  What is less well known is that they are far from essential.

Case studies abound of high profile business successes who have, at best, a middling academic record. We often hear about how Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and how Richard Branson didn’t finish school.

“You’re Hired!”



More recently in the UK, we saw reality TV contestant, Ruth Badger make it to runner up on The Apprentice. Ruth now runs her own consultancy In her own words Ruth said “I left school the moment I could. I hated it.” She points out the irony that she is now constructing £22million business plans with her Clients, yet back in school, couldn’t pass her GCSEs.


You can earn six figures without top grades

Ruth’s first job was on a Youth Training Scheme, from where she quickly progressed into the world of finance. What few people know is that even before the show, when she was a Financial Director for a UK PLC, her salary was higher than the Reality Show’s prize money of £100,000.

The Right Attitude

Ruth never let her lack of grades hold her back. While she now respects degrees and results, she made most of her progress with a ‘Can Do Attitude’.

Another famous example is founder of Liverpool club, Cream. James Barton left school with just a couple of GCEs, but built the skills he needed as he went along. Reflecting on the past he wouldn’t recommend leaving education at 15, but he believes that hard work and a clear vision combined with self belief and perseverance have led to his tremendous success.

What to do about grades on your CV

The most important thing is that you should never lie. We sometimes hear our Clients ask questions like, “But doesn’t everyone lie a bit on their CV?”. No. They don’t. While it happens, it’s often found out. Interviewers are trained to spot gaps and omissions. Getting caught out will mark the end to your career hopes with that employer.


Our point is this: You don’t need to lie. So don’t. Ever. Where you have a weakness or a gap in the CV we need to find alternative details to sell you in another way. What else have you done, or what can you start doing today to create interesting and sought-after CV content? Can you set up a business? Have you done effective charity / social enterprise work? Have you led a sports team? Maybe you can re-take your exams? Or prove that you’ve moved on with classes obtained through evening school or another higher education institution? The key thing to remember is your CV can be changed dramatically in the next 6 months if you put your mind to it. Work out where you want to be and what you will have to do to get there. We can help with this – just give us a call.

Get Your Story Straight

At interview you will need to be prepared to answer questions about your education and qualifications. But a set of poor exam results is certainly not a deal breaker. We have a track record of preparing candidates to talk past even strict criteria. It’s amazing what the right words and the right approach can do in an interview. Our consultants spend time with our candidates preparing the very best answers so you can go into an interview totally confident. Sometimes it can be as simple as explaining what went wrong and what you’ve done about it since. Other times we work on more detailed answers and put plans in place to demonstrate that whatever may have concerned the potential employer need no longer be a point of worry when it comes to deciding to hire you.

For more details on how to overcome the potential downside of weak education results, give us a call – 02071019495 – we can show you how to shine on your CV and talk your way through even the toughest interviews.


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