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Does graduating with Latin honors matter in the real world? Hiring managers weigh in

By Brooke Villanueva Published Jun 19, 2023 6:57 pm

You just graduated… now what? 

Graduation season comes with a rollercoaster of emotions. There’s happiness over finally reaching another life milestone as well as excitement over what the next chapter of your life has in store for you. But it could also come with a pang of anxiety about not knowing what to do next and what job you’ll end up with. After all, this is a major decision as it involves major commitment—and we’re not just talking about time and effort, but also money. 

One thing to consider when job-hunting is whether graduating with Latin honors—cum laude (with honors), magna cum laude (with high honors), or summa cum laude (with highest honors)—matters as it has long been known as a significant marker in your resume. It shows that you fulfilled your duties and respected your deadlines in your college life. But one thing to understand is that while it’s definitely something, it’s not everything. 

Latin honors not an ‘automatic pass’ to getting a job or landing your dream role 

Ivy Formoso, Human Resources consultant and HR Management professor at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business, considers Latin honors important especially for fresh entrants to the workforce as it “reflects the excellent performance of a candidate in school, hopefully predictive of future performance.” 

She, however, stressed that for most employers, emotional quotient “is just as important or even more important” as the mode of working today “is collaborative and requires team effort.” It’s measured through personality tests as well as panel interviews.

For Alyssa Lagrosa, a recruitment manager at Solar Company, graduating with Latin honors matters but it is not imperative to getting a job in the corporate world. This is because employers look into a variety of factors in determining a candidate’s suitability for a role. “I typically look into the candidate’s work experience, relevant skills and qualifications, cultural fit, and personal qualities,” she told PhilSTAR L!fe

Jillian Bala, a talent acquisition partner for American Express, looks at the overall performance of a candidate in the hiring process: “how they present themselves from the first time they’ve been contacted up until the end of the hiring process.” 

After all, one’s performance in terms of academics does not determine how one would perform in the corporate world. “Having honors in school doesn't translate to excellence in the workplace. It will definitely help one stand out as a candidate, but at the end of the day, it's how one performs during the recruitment process that matters,” said Monica Pacifico, a recruiter at Recruitment Process Outsource.

“We must look at one’s qualifications, experiences, personality, and attitude before deciding who’s most suitable for a job,” Anna Patricia Quilon, talent acquisition associate at Transformative Digital Customer Experience, told L!fe

“Having Latin honors is not an automatic pass to landing your dream job. In the same way, having failing grades does not mean you won’t land any job either,” she stressed. 

What employers are looking for

More than shiny medals and accolades, Pacifico said that a candidate’s attitude is what truly stands out during the hiring process. “There may be times when their patience and commitment to the company will be tested, and how they react to uncertainties during the process may be a determinant of the potential work relationship if they’re hired.” 

“There are times when very skilled candidates apply for a job but they turn out to be impatient, too relaxed, or complacent, perhaps because they think they'll get hired on the spot. From experience, I'd give more attention to those who show positive attitude during the hiring process,” she said.

Another thing, according to Pacifico, is a candidate’s preparedness for the job. This includes “how they prepared their resume and how they prepped for the interview (if they researched about the role/company).” A candidate's confidence and the way they present themselves during their interview could be an indicator of how prepared they are. “The hard skills are also vital, but these will be tested once a candidate is on board.” 

Jaira Paghubasan, a human resources officer for talent acquisition at Robinsons Supermarket Corporation, mentioned three important things she looks for in an applicant: their integrity during interviews as well as their determination and character towards the profession and the environment.

Lagrosa noted that the things they look for in a candidate could vary for every job opening and organization. “Experience and track record serve as indicators of one’s ability to deliver results and succeed in the job. While these two are important, having personal qualities that fit the need of the organization is equally significant.” 

“Having a collaborative mindset, strong work ethics, and adaptability are some of the qualities that I would like to see in a candidate,” she added.

Career advice that could get you to the top, according to HR experts 

HR experts shared some career advice you could use as you embark on your journey to the real world.

“Build your work portfolio and develop good relationships with bosses, peers, and direct reports. Stay updated with technology and new developments in your industry and company,” Formoso said. 

Lagrosa, meanwhile, talked about the importance of developing your personal brand and seeing learning as a lifelong process. “Build your brand, exchange ideas and perspectives with people, and commit to continuous learning. As much as possible, try to gain practical experience and attend workshops and seminars to fortify your know-how.” 

Quilon, who did not graduate with Latin honors but ended up getting a job she likes, noted that it’s really about showing who you truly are in your job applications. “Recruiters can see through people who are faking it, as they studied human behavior, too. Just highlight your best qualities during the interview.” 

“A rejection does not mean that you are not good enough—it just means that you are not highly fit for the job. If you land a job that you are not fit for, you’ll eventually have a hard time adjusting and coping with it. So, put in mind the recruiters are there to help you land a job that you are fit for, but also a job that you’ll surely like,” she added.