On the surface, a student’s grade point average (GPA) is a leading indicator of what’s to come regarding a new hire’s quality of work on the job. Nearly two-thirds of employers use a recent graduate’s grades as a screening tool in the hiring process, and those employers feel confident setting aside resumes with anything less than a 3.0. That’s because it’s easy to correlate a high GPA with a certain level of competence in their chosen degree. In reality, an impressive GPA doesn’t always equate to an impressive worker.
The Problem with GPAs
The system of higher education has progressed slowly over the years, shifting from teaching skills necessary to be successful in a straightforward, singularly-focused job to embracing the technology-driven world in which we live and thrive today. A student’s GPA is still, however, a measure of proficiency in certain, easy-to-define skills, such as:
- Focusing energy on following directions
- Performing well in subjects that don’t excite
- Memorization of facts and statistics
What a GPA doesn’t showcase is the student’s ability to create new ideas, comprehend abstract concepts or theories, or work within a group environment. Focusing on GPA as part of the screening process for new hires leaves employers without a real, accurate gauge of the capabilities of a student, above and beyond mastery in certain subjects or material presented to them. Employers who give credence to a potential hire’s grades may be missing the mark in filling a position with the right person – a misstep that becomes costly down the road.
There’s a Better Way
Instead of sifting through resumes with a laser focus on the GPA number deemed high enough, employers can improve the hiring process by selecting candidates based on other metrics that may not be so straightforward. For instance, evaluating a student’s past experience by reviewing the projects she completed throughout a college career is a far greater indicator of capabilities than a grade point average. Employers aren’t able to ascertain the depth and breadth of communication skills, teamwork, or creativity by evaluating a GPA alone, but a portfolio of work in addition to or in lieu of a static number helps provide valuable insight into what the potential hire is capable of doing at work.
While GPA may be part of the picture for recent graduates, it shouldn’t be the only factor determining who’s fit for the job. It’s important for employers to understand what drives the student, in which areas she thrives, and how those aspects come together to create an employee who can produce work at a high level. These pertinent skills can be easily gleaned by reviewing the whole of the student’s accomplishments during their college experience and evaluating potential hires on more than their scholastic abilities.
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