The broadening of recruitment strategy from within financial services means that your humanities degree does not limit your job options.

With Freshers week now in the rear view mirror, the time has come for many students to refocus their attention onto something different; internship and graduate job applications. However, this year is a landmark in how numerous top companies from financial services have diversified their recruitment policy. This is important because gaining a successful internship or job is now immensely more achievable for students whose degree is not directly mathematically or financially relevant.

Today we live in highly diverse, globalised world which transcends mere economics. In the UK we have a highly varied student and working population with an extensive array of abilities which can be utilised by large corporates. This is reflected by many of the top financial services corporates who are looking for a wide range of talent when recruiting university students for graduate schemes and internships. Instead of the old school days when stereotypically white, upper-middle class males were the most common employee hired by banks, insurance companies and professional services, the vast majority of global corporates are making a notable effort to recruit equal numbers of female and minority applicants into their organisations.

“Those with good ‘soft skills’ such as strong people person’s skills and emotional intelligence come from the arts rather than students who spend their time alone, number crunching in front of a computer screen”

What is potentially less eminent is the broadening of recruitment strategy which has expanded to include those applicants with degrees outside of maths, science and finance.

Instead of merely wanting the customary 2:1 in Economics (not to say that is isn’t a very employable degree) various Times Top 100 Graduate Employees are more interested in candidates’ experience from outside the classroom and are keen to accept applicants from humanity disciplines such as History and English. The reasoning for this is that an organisation who hires similar candidates from traditional financial relatable degrees will hold a workforce who all think and act in similar manners which is an undesirable weakness when it comes to problem solving and innovation. Often, those with good ‘soft skills’ such as strong people’s person skills and emotional intelligence come from the arts rather than students who spend their time alone, number crunching in front of a computer screen.

“Barclay’s for the first time this year has dropped its online maths and mental reasoning tests for video interviews”

Parts of this argument may seem obvious but be careful not to underestimate the effect which it has had upon recruiters. Barclays for the first time this year has dropped its online maths and mental reasoning tests for video interviews. This is to create a more even playing field for those candidates with less confident mathematical skills but who have other abilities such as fluent communication and presenting talents. Professional Services company Ernest and Young have recently dropped the degree classification entirely from their application process. PwC advertise their graduate careers to all degrees. This is all evidence that it will take more than simply your degree to impress companies on applications. What many companies now focus on more than ever before is an applicant’s work experience and extracurricular activities which makes applicants more proficient and ready for working life.

For those who are now currently midway through or thinking of applying to the likes of Barclays and similar companies in financial services, you should maybe consider the following. Firstly, that all companies will be looking for different strengths in an application so don’t write off your degree as being completely irrelevant. Secondly, do not let your degree deter you from applying to jobs in financial services as it won’t hold you back if you have other criteria on your C.V. which is impressive. Extracurricular responsibilities such as a sport, Karnival, JCR, Enactus, society committee position are more valuable than you might expect in when trying to break into the world of corporate business and finance. The game is changing and it’s not all about spreadsheets and calculators anymore.

Nick Miller

Barclay’s Brand Ambassador for the University of Nottingham

Image: Paul Wilkinson on Flickr 

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