Employers look beyond GPA

Story by Ashley Traylor, Staff writer

As graduation approaches and seniors construct resumés, a high GPA helps students land jobs, but hiring managers are looking beyond students’ grades into their experience and involvement.

Robert Long, visiting distinguished professor of nonprofit leadership, said students do not need to include their GPAs on their resumés because it’s generally not important in the job marketplace. He said in his career, which included job development and hiring, he did not ask about transcripts or GPA.

“What always seems to matter most in the hiring process as indicators of career success are issues of commitment to the mission, passion to have an impact and willingness to grow and learn along the way,” Long said.

Evidence of being able to advance the workplace is found in a student’s resumé, along with all that makes them who they are, he said, and employers are looking for someone to bring a “healthy, balanced and dedicated attitude and commitment to the mission of the organization.”

Sandra Miles, Hutchens distinguished professor of management, said students should include their GPA on their resumés if it is something to brag about, but employers are looking for more than good grades.

“GPA is part of the equation,” Miles said. “It’s not the entire equation.”

GPA is important, she said, but leadership, service and experience are important factors to hiring managers because what students do outside the classroom sets them apart from other candidates applying for the same job.

She said if a student has a 3.0 GPA and no additional involvement, then they are not the most preferable candidate to an employer.

“But, if you’re taking a 3.0 and you’re looking in terms of you’ve been elected to leadership positions of student organizations, you’re an active volunteer, you’ve managed a full-time job to work your way through school, then that’s going to put in more weight than a 4.0 student that didn’t do anything in addition to going to school,” Miles said.

She said while in high school, students had four years to prepare for college. Once in college, they have four years to build their resumé to make them the most employable candidate.

For students wanting to attend graduate school or further their education, Miles said GPA is a factor, but admission is also dependent on scores from the admissions test.

Teri Ray, lecturer of management, said if a student’s GPA puts them in an above average category for their institution, then they should include it on their resumés. She said an above average GPA would be a 3.0 or higher.

However, Ray said if she is the one hiring, GPA is not the first thing she looks at, but she said it paints a picture of the individual’s work ethic.

She said an important piece of information to include on a resumés is the accreditation of the course curriculum.

“Our curriculum, what we teach you, that professional group has said, ‘Yes, you are teaching what we want them to know when we graduate,’” Ray said.

Taylor Sickling, senior from La Center, Kentucky, has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout school and she said she has always placed emphasis on her grades.

“My grades reflect the amount of effort I put into my courses and the amount of effort I put into my courses reflects the passion I have for my future career,” Sickling said.

As part of her nonprofit curriculum, Sickling needed a 300-hour internship. During her interview, the director commended on her on a 4.0, and she said she believes it helped secure her internship, but she also has leadership experience.

“Our GPAs, the actual numbers, are not as important as what lies behind them: our work ethic, character and passion for what we want to do in the future,” Sickling said.