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Do grades matter to hiring companies?

Grades matter

It’s just a data point, and an important one early in your career

Do grades matter to hiring companies?

Do grades matter when creating your resume? Yes, grades matter and can absolutely make a difference. There is a myth out there that recent graduates with a 4.0 GPA’s are mindless robots. The stereotype is that these candidates are:

  • One-dimensional and don’t know how to do anything but study and take tests.
  • Don’t know how to interact with other co-workers or understand team dynamics because they spent so much time studying during high school and college.

There are times that I agree with this train of thought, but I know a lot of social misfits that didn’t pull off a 4.0 GPA and a lot of immature brats with a 3.2’s. Yes, JD Rockefeller, Abe Lincoln, and Bill Gates, didn’t pull a 4.0, but my bet is that most of us are not anywhere close to these individuals. The smartest, most well-rounded guy I know didn’t finish college. Dropping out of college didn’t cause him to become successful. College was literally slowing him down. I have seen 4.0 rocks stars and 4.0 social misfits in the working world, that being said. . .  

A high GPA listed on a resume will always catch my attention and force me to take a closer look at the candidate.

Despite the 4.0 haters, I want to explain why grades matter when we enter the working world.

When we give a recent graduate a look, the only real indication of future success on the resume are the grades listed, the school attended and the presentation layer (a great presentation layer doesn’t mean you are physically beautiful, it means you are presentable in a business setting).

Every candidate claims to be dedicated and disciplined in the cover letter and in the interview. Every candidate claims to be a hard worker and will show up on time if given the job. Every candidate says, “You won’t regret hiring me”. Well guess what Gomer. Sally 4.0 over here doesn’t have to say she is dedicated or disciplined. She doesn’t have to tell me she is a hard worker or tell me she will show up on time. Sally’s parents don’t think her college education was a waste of money and either does the hiring manager. Her 4.0 does her talking for her. The VERY FIRST STEP to a successful career is landing a job interview. Recent graduates with limited professional networks land interviews with their resume and a 4.0 will grab a recruiters attention.

Companies won’t interview every candidate that claims to be dedicated or disciplined. Companies interview candidates with solid resumes.

At the entry-level, most resumes look very similar because they all lack real work experience. Sure, the candidate may have had an internship or a part-time job, but these are (sorry to break the news) relatively low expectation positions. There is a difference between a part-time job and performing full-time 9 hours a day 5 days a week 50 weeks a year. In school, we scheduled our classes around Days of Our Lives and Sponge Bob. In school, we could start the day at 11:00 AM if we wanted.  Welcome to the real world. The corporate grind is 9 to 6:00.  No spring break in Florida and 2 months off in the summer. Two weeks a year is all you get bitches! Grades and the limited extracurricular activities are all recruiters have to make a decision on. This is why grades matter.

Grades matter because a high GPA shows that regardless of the topic, this candidate CAN apply himself or herself. Grades matter because they show a 4-year commitment.  This is huge when the average tenure of a recent grad at their first job is just around 2 years.

Grades matter because at the early stage of your career, grades are the closest indicator of job performance we have. It may not be the best proxy, but it is the only proxy we have. 

Over a 4-year period of time, despite life’s challenges, a high GPA reflects the discipline to do well and stay focused whether the topic is a sleeper or a passion. Not all of these topics are interesting to the student, but Mrs. 4.0, with her horn-rimmed glasses, figured out a way to not just persevere but follow the rules and end up at the top of every class OVER THE SPAN OF 4 YEARS.

Which is what we want in the working world. There are going to be crappy boring projects in corporate America. There is going to be a lot of stressful change within the company. Good grades over a 4-year period of time, a stressful school and extracurricular activities are the only indication that we have to make the decision. A 4.0 won’t land you a job but it is a great start in the process. In a sea of 1000 resumes the 4.0 is a pair of tight skinny jeans and a pair of great shoes. It’s an eye catcher, an icebreaker, and a pretty good indication that you figured out how to be successful. You will still need to prove yourself in the interview, but a high GPA will definitely get you noticed.

See you at the after party,

HRNasty

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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  • gander2112

    I have never hired fresh outs, so this might be irrelevant. But the only people i have ever seen put their GPA on their resume were people who groomed their curriculum in university to optimize it.

    Yes, I have seen someone mention 3.9, 4.0, and even 4.1 (really?) 20 years after the fact.

    You know what? When I see that, I ask the HR person to get a copy of their transcript. So much padding, adding of fluffy electives, and a minor that was a creme puff. Pure weaponized bolonium.

    I studied physics. I minored in math. I got a M.Sc. Physics. My undergrad I got a 3.7 GPA. You know what? I have never felt compelled to list that. Ever.

    • Gander2112,
      sorry, I wasn’t clear. This post is directed at “fresh out’s”, or folks who have very little work experience. After a few years of work experience, as you know, we are hired for our work and not our grades. The education and the grades for those “fresh out” is all the experience they have, which is why it matters. 10 years later, we don’t worry about grades because it is the work experience that matters. Sorry about the mix up.