In high school, most students who have collegiate aspirations understand the importance of maintaining a high grade point average (GPA). This is especially true of individuals who have a desire to apply to one of the nation's top colleges or universities.
While college admissions officials may care about students' GPA, graduates may wonder how important their academic history is to potential employers. While every company has different preferences, here is what a few experts have to say about candidates' GPA and the job search:
Job applicants can stand out with a high GPA
In a competitive job market, people may do everything in their power to make sure they are applying for the right positions, such as taking a career test. At the same time, there is a very real possibility that employers are looking for ways to narrow their pool of candidates. One way to accomplish this may be to look at individuals' college GPA.
In a USA Today College article, Patrick O'Brien, the author of "Making College Count," wrote that job seekers' GPA is more important than ever. O'Brien said that most large and mid-sized employers rely on applicant tracking systems that place candidates into a searchable database. This allows recruiters to look up individuals based on different criteria, such as GPA.
"If you have 70 candidates with a 3.4 or above, how motivated would you be to look deeper in the pile," O'Brien wrote. "For most, the answer is 'not very.' While you may find a hidden gem if you do, you then have to justify to your boss why you did not offer someone with a 3.5 an interview, but gave one to someone with a 2.6."
While this may not be the case at every company, O'Brien advises college students to work toward earning the best GPA possible, with a total above 3.4 being ideal.
Employers understand collegiate challenges
Job candidates' GPA is one of many factors hiring officials take into consideration, but it is not everything. In fact, CareerBuilder states that employers understand the different circumstances students face while working toward a college degree. Everything from extracurricular activities to working their way through school can influence how well students perform academically.
The professionals who make hiring decisions for companies were students too once. As a result, they may be willing to look past a low GPA if a candidate clearly excels in other areas.
Job searching with a low GPA
In the event that job seekers have a low GPA, they should not give up hope of landing a good job, nor should they try to hide it. Not including this number on a resume or job application may leave employers wondering about it even more, CareerBuilder states. Instead, individuals should try to place more emphasis on their academic strengths.
In addition, Susan Davis-Ali, founder of Leadhership1, advises job seekers with a low GPA to leverage their network and see who can help them get ahead in the job market, according to USA Today College. Davis-Ali also suggests they think about the reasons why they had a low GPA, and be ready to discuss them with potential employers.
What else matters to employers?
If individuals were not the best students, they may also want to pay attention to some of the skills and qualities that many employers value. According to results of the National Association of Colleges and Employers' Job Outlook 2013 survey, candidates' ability to verbally communicate with people within and outside of their organization was very important. Employers felt the same way about individuals' ability to work within a team structure, solve problems, prioritize work, process information and analyze quantitative data.