Grades are not everything – or are they?

Marianne Bom & Rie Jerichow, Publicér

There are grades – and then there is everything else on a résumé, like travels, volunteer work, trips abroad, and language skills. But how much does that count compared to grades? Three directors from a small, a medium-sized, and a large engineering company share their opinions.

Torben Riise, CEO at Tekfa, who delivers process tools for powder dosing, powder handling, and weighting of granulates, powders, and more. 14 employees. “With grades, I feel that it is basically great to have high grades, but if you have the will to learn, you can use the team to quickly get the skills needed. So with all else in order, I value having the will in your heart to learn and achieve more higher than good grades. It is, however, important to have good English skills, because we have large interactions with other countries. In relation to grades, it is more important to us that the applicant has a background in craftsmanship on top of their engineering exam. That they know something about machine work. It is not a must, but it makes a lot of stuff easier.”

Ole Rasmussen, CEO at Dines Jørgensen & Co. A/S – a medium-sized consulting engineering company with 87 employees spread across offices in Hillerød, Sorø, and Odense. The company consults within facilities, buildings, water supply, environment, and geo technique. “Stick your grades in your backpack. In my opinion, it is our experience that the graduates naturally have a theoretical knowledge when they start in the company. They got the foundation at their university, and we have to teach them to use the foundation to develop solutions for the real world. That is why it is so important that you can handle new teachings, and if you can, it basically does not matter which grades are on your diploma. We mostly work in Denmark, so good Danish skills are a must, but lately we have started making contact with China and Brazil, so it is almost a must by now to be fluent in English. We hire people we can work with, who have interest and engagement. From there, we will teach them what they need.”

Lena Kjær, HR director in Rambøll. 14,000 consulting engineers, architects, and management consultants work here, spread across 300 offices in 35 countries. “If I said grades were not important, I would lie. Because they are, but they do not mean everything. If we, for instance, have two applicants, one with an average of 10, but who has had study jobs and been abroad during the study, and the other has an average of 12, but has not tried a lot – then we would go for the person who has tried most. In Rambøll, we want to hire whole people, because it is important that you can cooperate and work in human interactions. If you can’t, you will have a hard time thriving in a workplace where there are so much cross collaborations. Having been abroad is something we rate espcially highly. We are an international workplace, and we hire more and more foreigners, so it is important to be able to work in the multicultural world. I don’t want to use the world ‘elite’ in relation to the graduates we hire, because that is not what I mean, but because we live off of delivering the best solutions for our customers and creating innovative projects, we are very dependent on our employees having a high level of professionalism. We expect them to be ambitious, but not in the way that they leave a battlefield behind them. We want people to be able to collaborate.”