Should GPA really factor into your job search?

This can be a bit of a controversial subject within HR and Recruiting, but it’s a question worth discussing. I recently read an article that supports my opinion on the matter, so I thought I would share my thoughts.

I know there are companies, like Google, that require transcripts from every applicant and will only hire candidates with top marks. But then there are other companies like Facebook and Apple that were started by (very smart) people who didn’t even finish school. So where is the line? If GPA does matter is it always important or only for certain roles?

My opinion: Bottom line, cumulative GPA should not matter at all.

I’m sorry, but the fact that I got a C (ok, maybe closer to a D) in Geology my freshman year does not indicate that I will not be good at my job in business. I purposely majored in International Business as opposed to another business major in part because it only required one science class instead of the usual two. If you are going to talk about GPA, talk about major GPA. That is where you learn the skills that you will take with you into your job.

Even then though – is academic performance an accurate representation to how well you will perform in your job? Again, I don’t think so. There are so many other factors that go into the college experience that it is hard to judge someone solely based on their grades. I always looked at college as four extra years to mature and learn something (even if outside the classroom) before going into the job market. Most importantly, to learn how to learn. With roles constantly changing, the right candidate will be able to adjust and learn new skills on the job that are not acquired in the classroom. Maybe this candidate also had a part time job, played a sport, or was involved in other extracurricular activities that took away from their studies but gave them other attributes that are very useful in the “real world”. For instance, I know someone who played college basketball, was the president of his fraternity, and yet scored just average grades. He is now working for one of the “best companies to work for” in the country and doing very well in his role. If they were only looking for “top performers” grade-wise, he would never have been hired.

It’s all relative. There are obviously careers that are very analytical or require extensive knowledge, e.g., the medical field. But in general, if GPA needs to be a part of your search it shouldn’t be the deciding factor. There is so much more to a candidate than that.

photo by: blatch

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