Up until now I've applied to some 20-30 Software development jobs. Some of my friends also applied to the same positions and few of them got the job. The thing is, I have the longest experience among all of them, at a known company. However they studied at universities that are in the top 10, while I did at one which is between 70-60.

My website is not even visited in the time period between submission and application rejection. So they are not even checking it, even though it is near my contact details at the top of my cv.

The structure is : -education -work experience -skills -interests and extracurricular activities

Can a low prestige university name be a deal breaker on my resume? If so, how can I avoid it?

Edit : forgot to add. Before asking this I actually had my CV reviewed from friends that work at top companies and also good recruiters.

  • Here's a thought: If where you went to school actually matters to an employer, then that's an employer you don't want to work for. Also, you're probably being filtered out by ATS. Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 21:10
  • 1
    @JoelDeWitt , I am aware of that. However, for some time I started to believe that this process it not what it used to be. People's resumes end up in bins just because of someone's standards. For me there should be more than what's on the paper. If I were to hire someone, I would like it to be a person, not some code monkey.
    – user49936
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 22:20
  • Downvoter, explain yourself?
    – user49936
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 23:10
  • 4
    @NullException (I did not down vote, for the record) ... I appreciate your enthusiasm and I think this is a good question, but I honestly think it boils down to 1 of 2 things: Your resume is formatted badly OR you do not have what these companies are looking for (take that as a positive and a negative). Some want prestigious people to flaunt to their bosses and others want a person who will sit down, shut up and do the job. Finding the right one and balance is tricky, but if they discriminate based on colleges then you do NOT want to work there (trust me, elitists bread ego problems).
    – G.T.D.
    Commented May 1, 2016 at 4:05
  • Think about this: how many CS graduates from those schools ranked 60-70 are unemployed? Very few, I think. Certainly I've managed to get interesting/remunerative jobs despite graduating from a school (small state university) that would probably rank closer to 170. Thing is, the jobs were gotten by personal recommendation: from professors, fellow students, & former co-workers, not by sending out resumes.
    – jamesqf
    Commented May 1, 2016 at 6:48

7 Answers 7


If the most important thing you have to say about yourself is "I went to University somewhere you've not heard of", that's going to create a poor first impression.

You say that:

The thing is, I have the longest experience among all of them, at a known company.

So if you think your experience tells a better story of who you are and how you're qualified than your attendance at an educational establishment, why isn't your experience section first?

My website is not even visited in the time period between submission and application rejection. So they are not even checking it, even though it is near my contact details at the top of my cv.

You will put hours into your CV and read and care about every word. Employers won't. They will look for the highlights, and that means you need to communicate what you can offer as quickly and concisely as possible. You also need to avoid unforced errors which leave a bad impression.

Recruiting managers probably won't visit your website unless they've decided to interview, and even then, don't count on it. They might not spend more than a couple of minutes looking at any one CV, and they will probably skip the contacts section. They only want to contact you if the rest of your CV tells them they want to interview you.

Can a low prestige university name be a deal breaker on my resume?

It can certainly affect your chances, although what might be especially important in any technical context is if the course has a poor reputation in the subjects they care about.

If you're applying to over 20 jobs and consistently getting rejections, that suggests there is something odd about your applications. It might be your university, but it could also any of be a host of other things. Normally there's no way of knowing why you've not been shortlisted. But if it is university, well, you can't do much about it - focus more on the things you can do something about.

  • Do you follow the application instructions? e.g. if they ask for a cover letter and CV, do you send both?
  • Are your applications professional, presentable, accurate and understandable, including spelling, grammar, typesetting, etc.?
  • Does your application demonstrate you will be able to the criteria marked 'essential' on the job advertisement?
  • Does your application demonstrate you have been entrusted with a level of responsibility substantially similar to that of the job advertised?
  • Do you just list your current job title and dates worked, or do you summarise your responsibilities and achievements?
  • When you talk about projects, do you communicate what you did, what you used, what difficulties you overcame, or merely that you "worked on" something?

Find a couple of your contacts (preferably the ones who got good jobs) and ask them if they would mind looking over your CV to see if there are any gaps or red flags.

If you can give the impression "I already know how to do this job - I'm doing something similar already", then for most jobs - certainly development jobs - that's a far better indicator of whether you're likely to be a good fit for the job than university attendance.

  • This is a really great answer!
    – enderland
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 20:00
  • Accepted your answer because it is far more detailed than the others, but this does not mean that I decline or dislike what others wrote. Thanks again.
    – user49936
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 9:44

In my experience, the university you graduated from is not important unless you are applying to a highly competitive position. In those cases, the company can afford to filter out many candidates using 'lazy' techniques (i.e. based on school, based on keywords, etc).

If you have relevant work experience and your resume isn't getting looked at, then it is more likely that you simply have a weak resume or cover letter. I suggest having a colleague review them.


Simple answer yes, if I get an application from someone with a masters from the National University of Sāmoa I would need proof of their actual literacy before giving them an entry level job.

There is a reason some universities are more prestigious than others. With some institutions it's a given that the degree holder actually knows their stuff in that field, others not so much.

  • Would you say that doing a master at one of the better universities would help my situation ?
    – user49936
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 22:18
  • if you had the time and money then yes, but if you spent that same time getting on the job experience, that might weigh in better as well, judgement call on what sort of job you want. And even then it depends on the employer, they're all different and have different value criteria, personally I prefer practical experience.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 22:19
  • 100% this. I went to a top uni and had a few people come over from mid-tier unis who absolutely struggled just to stay afloat and get passing grades. I'd hate to think what a low grade uni is like. PS having the top uni for me has been like holding a magic key, it really does open doors.
    – solarflare
    Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 2:17

For limited jobs yes the university is deal breaker. For a majority of jobs the university is just a factor. Top grades and mid university is probably better then mid grades at a top university. Top grades at a top university is going to be the most attractive.

I don't think moving the order of education versus work history is going to matter. But why not give it a try. If you have an impressive work history then put it first.

  • Think you meant work history. Shouldn't the most attractive factor on my resume be that I have few projects that I develop in my own time ? Some of my peers don't have that at all in theirs.
    – user49936
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 11:17
  • Just opinion but I don't think projects is significant enough to be first. Unless it is a major project they are likely to know.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 11:22

Can a low prestige university name be a deal breaker on my resume?

Yes. People tend to say that the university doesn't matter. However, the school from which you graduated from, does matter; especially when you are competing with people from top 10 grad schools.

If so, how can I avoid it?

Mention projects. If you have done some really good projects, then go ahead and flaunt them, along with a github reference. Recruiters love people who can get things done. So, your assortment of projects would help communicate your technical expertise, and help you catch up with the school disadvantage.

  • I mention my projects in the last section. Should I change my sections order then?
    – user49936
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 11:05
  • Yes. if you have nice projects, you might want to promote the projects section up :)
    – Dawny33
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 11:09

The school certainly affects how your grades are valued; a B at MIT would be an A at most other schools... If you were a straight-A student at that school you may bypass this; a good student can beat a good education out of a mediocre school.

  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. - From Review
    – AndreiROM
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 15:07
  • @andreirom: disagree strongly. The question was "is it a deal breaker." My answer is "not always but it can be, and here are the parameters which affect that.". Seems appropriate to me.
    – keshlam
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 15:19

Bad grades at a good University are better than good grades at a Diploma Mill as long as the grades are passing .A good university should be in the World top 500 if it is to be called a university .Remember that your last job counts more than grades .Grades can help in getting your first job .If your college gives most of the class A passes then straight A passes will not be enough to differentiate your CV from the huge pile .

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