Do Grades Really Matter to a Recruiter?

by Jenna Blair on April 15, 2015

Do Grades Really Matter to a Recruiter? If you’ve ever conducted an internet search with the words “do grades really matter to employers” while job hunting, you likely emerged more confused than when you started. Some results insist good grades are essential to getting a great job; some say they’re irrelevant.

So here’s the definite answer to the question, “ do grades really matter to a recruiter?” Yes. And no.

While grades don’t tell the whole story about a candidate, they’re definitely a chapter worth skimming. In the end, though, the total package means more than the numbers. The ideal candidate has it all — real-world experience through internships, impressive grades from a respected school, leadership and teamwork abilities, good communications skills and more.

Presenting the Total Package

So how do you decide which qualities and achievements to display? According to the Job Outlook 2015 survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), employers seek several attributes on a prospect’s resume.

When asked what they look for in a candidate, the largest group of respondents (77.8 percent) chose both “leadership” and “the ability to work in a team structure.” Other prized attributes were communication and teamwork skills, a strong work ethic, initiative and flexibility.

However, internships are also widely identified as the most important factor in evaluating a candidate. Showing you’ve done real-world work in a real-world setting is invaluable. The next priorities were employment during college, college major, volunteer experience and extracurricular activities. GPA was seventh on the list.

Grades Reflect Effort and Knowledge

The larger the company, the more likely you’ll be asked to share your GPA during the submission process. Another recent NACE survey shows that 67 percent of companies screen by GPA. A strong GPA signals responsibility, commitment, time management and intelligence to many employers.

Engineering and architecture programs are academically intensive, and prospects need technical ability to succeed in this environment. Good grades increase the chance a candidate has a strong foundation of knowledge, as well as a high level of effort and attention to detail.

What to Put on Your Resume

True, we haven’t technically answered the question of whether grades matter. That’s because there is no conclusive answer. Every recruiter sees things differently, and every job demands its own set of priorities. However, some attributes are universally valued, so be sure to emphasize a few key things that could position you well with any company:

  • Grades: No matter your GPA, it’s a good idea to include it. You’ll be asked about it at one point in every interview process, so be up front with it. Make sure to list any academic honors you’ve achieved, as well.
  • Work experience: Ideally, this is an internship in the field you’re interested in, but any experience can demonstrate skills you’ve acquired, an ability to multitask or experience working well within a team.
  • Leadership roles: We value people that can take initiative and demonstrate a strong sense of ownership and responsibility.
  • Extracurricular activities: We’re always looking for well-rounded team members who have varied interests outside the classroom. Show us what you’re passionate about.
  • Problem-solving ability: The more specific the better. If, during an internship, you improved productivity on a project by 25 percent, we want to know how. This is the kind of instance that can help offset a less-than-stellar GPA.
  • Fit within the company culture: Many employers have a defined culture, and they want to hire someone who would be a great personality fit, too. Who doesn’t want someone who will gel with the team and its values? Our culture, for example, centers on employee-ownership and an entrepreneurial approach. If you think you’d fit in, show us how!

What do you think — are grades or other attributes more important for job seekers? Comment below or join the conversation on our Careers Facebook page.

Jenna Blair is a college recruiter for Burns & McDonnell. She recruits for entry-level positions throughout the company and develops relationships with university administrators throughout the country. Feel free to connect with Jenna on LinkedIn to learn more about the many opportunities available at Burns & McDonnell.


The Millennial Majority: Is Your Workplace Ready?

by Lauren Bertram on April 13, 2015

The Millennial Majority: Is Your Workplace Ready?Every generation has a different way of looking at things. That may be especially true for millennials — people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s — who many have stereotyped as the “me generation.”

But millennials don’t fit into one overarching category, especially when it comes to their careers. This year, they’ll overtake baby boomers to become the majority in American workplaces, so it makes sense to reach for a better understanding of the millennial worldview. It’s important to make sure your workplace is ready.

Millennials Making an Impact

According to a recent Deloitte Global study, millennials prefer to work for employers who make a positive impact on the world. (Though 75 percent say they believe businesses are focused more on their own agenda than on improving society.)

Millennials still suffer from a gender gap in leadership terms. Men are more likely to rank their leadership skills as strong and seek out the top spot in their organization, so women of this generation will still benefit from mentorship and leader development initiatives. Happily, though, the salary gap between men and women of this age is beginning to narrow.

Disjoints Between Generations

Large-scale studies on the millennial majority identify points of disjoint between millennials and preceding generations.

  • Millennials are less traditional and put a higher priority on flexibility and control, and 79 percent would consider quitting their job at some time to work for themselves.
  • They are digitally savvy, can leverage social media opportunities and have an easier time incorporating technology into their daily work.
  • They scored lowest on being a team player, at 45 percent, and work ethic, at 39 percent, compared with other generations.

Typical recruiting measures aren’t always succeeding. More than half of recruiting managers in the study have had difficulty recruiting millennials, while nearly 40 percent of millennials have found challenges getting a traditional job.

How the Workplace Can Adapt

This generation prizes collaboration, mentorship and meaningful work more than many realize. In fact, millennials bring a host of exceptional skills and attitudes that can be huge assets to an employer. But a company must recognize the need to adjust how they do things to feel relevant to this new majority.

  • Enable them to forge their own path within your organization. Millennials are natural entrepreneurs. If they have the opportunity to shape their own role in their current job, they’ll feel less compelled to seek out their path elsewhere.
  • Emphasize flexibility. Likely, your company already has a number of policies in place that encourage work-life integration. Be sure your millennial employees know about these measures, and be open to their input on how to improve upon them.
  • Leverage their mastery of technology. Put effective tech tools at their fingertips and minimize restrictions on use. These are people who’ve grown up in an interconnected world, so they can envision integrated digital solutions that may not occur to previous generations.

What do you think? What tactics have you used to strengthen the working relationship between generations? If you’re a millennial, will these tips increase your satisfaction with your workplace? We’d love to hear from you!

Lauren Bertram is a recruitment manager for Burns & McDonnell. She heads up our college recruiting team and oversees our K-12 and intern programs. If you want to learn more about our educational outreach, intern program or working at Burns & McDonnell, connect with Lauren on LinkedIn


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Cultivating a Strong Employer Brand to Attract Top Talent

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10 Stress-Relief Tips for the Office

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Between looming deadlines, countless meetings and the constant feeling that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day, we’ve all experienced work-related stress at some point. The United States is a notoriously high-stress country, with a staggering eight of 10 Americans reporting stress about at least one thing at work — up from last year’s […]

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