Recruiting and Staffing

Recruiting New College Grads: Does Their GPA Actually Matter?

group of graduation students

Are you recruiting college students?

It might be tempting to try and judge them based on their success at school — which leads you right to their GPA. But it’s a terrible measure of success for most students.

In the National Association of Colleges and Employer’s Job Outlook 2012 survey, GPA importance hit an all-time high at 76.9 percent of employers screening candidates based on GPA. In 2012 the outlook was 73.4 percent, an improvement, but not much better.

Some organizations must use GPA as a method to filter through thousands of applicants — and have a solid reason it wasn’t their fault a new grad didn’t work out. But there are some compelling reasons as well.

As young, growing companies with a fraction of the number of applicants, challenge yourself to take an in-depth look at resumes, beyond the 3 point whatever next to an applicant’s education section.

Now, it’s certainly a great sign if you’re bringing someone in with a 3.98 and honors credentials. There’s so much more to consider. Make sure you’re not over-emphasizing GPA, because in business:

There is no syllabus

Every day is completely different with 24/7 challenges. Start-up life doesn’t end for summer or break for winter.

Your employees won’t likely know what they’re being evaluated on until after it’s changed the business. If your applicant is searching for a syllabus outlining expectations and grading procedures, they’re going to have to look elsewhere.

Dedicated help doesn’t exist

Stellar college students in a habit of emailing professors late at night for exam advice and guidance are going to be lost in a more dynamic environment. The boost a little persistence can provide is significant.

But their future boss is running a company, making huge decisions, and still struggling to find a work-life balance. There are no RA’s, TA’s, or any other kind of guidance available. They have to find a direction themselves, and use their persistence much differently.

It’s extremely subjective

You know all of the jibes about easy majors or basket weaving classes, so we won’t hit you with any more. But what about unfair professors? What about different universities’ grading policies?

Transplant the same student to a different school and you might get a substantially different experience and GPA. Using it as an objective comparison — or screening tool — simply isn’t that reliable.

College is just the shallow end

It’s a fantastic place to build your confidence and learn your craft. And sure, it can be challenging. But you don’t have others relying on your performance, and you have a number of safeguards to keep you on the right path.

Colleges want to see their customers succeed. After graduation, your employer is your customer. It’s up to your performance to keep them afloat, not the other way around.

Make sure you:

  • Don’t screen applicants based on a GPA cutoff — standards are critical, but there are few absolutes in talent.
  • Focus on challenging projects or tangible achievements in addition to grades.
  • Look for self-reliance and entrepreneurial traits as compliments to past achievements.

This article originally appeared on The Resumator Blog.

Courtney Englert is the Customer Success Intern at The Resumator, a SaaS applicant tracking system and recruiting platform trusted by many of the fastest-growing companies in the world. Contact her at at cenglert@theresumator.com or http://twitter.com/theresumator on Twitter.
  • Faisal

    I would prefer a graduate with some experience and average grades rather than student who has achieved a first!
    I use to look up to all these students at university who would get first and GPA of over 3.5 and now those lads are still finding their first jobs 2 years later!

  • http://www.workforceinstitute.org/ Jmaroney

    We weight the candidacy of college grads more heavily on relevant work experience and internships.  For me, GPA might be a tie breaker if all other factors were truly equal, but it’s not the first criterion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/EnriquesX Anita Volpato

    I have always wondered why GPA was the main consideration for hiring.  I was a non traditional student in my late 20′s when I finished college.  Yes, my GPA wasn’t high but I also juggled a family and employment the whole time I pursued my Biology degree.  I still haven’t found employment and that is the main reason why. I really don’t think it is fair but it’s life.