College Recruiting Beyond GPAs

Recruiting from Historically Black Colleges and Universities should be a tool in the arsenal of any employer that is committed to centering Black talent in the workplace.  However, as it relates to college recruiting, perseverance is greater that GPAs (grade point averages)

Recruiting new graduates brings energy, unique ideas, and a fresh set of skills to a company of any size. However, many hiring managers still target exceptional grades as one of the principal indicators of a candidate’s success and potential. Indeed, high GPAs are an indication of determination and hard work in the academic arena, which may correlate to dedication and hard work in the professional arena.  

Therefore, it’s not surprising that 73 percent of employers planned to use GPA to screen candidates in 2019. Most of them would consider eliminating a job applicant if their GPA is lower than 3.0. 

According to a report from Georgetown University, 70 percent of all college students work while in school.

But, low-income students are disproportionately Black.  This often translates to Black students needing to focus more of their time on working to earn an income, than their non-Black or Latino counterparts.   This focus on working, means fewer hours for studying.

Therefore, by failing to consider socioeconomic-fueled GPA inequity, and, by eliminating candidates with lower grades, employers also hurt their diversity policies and goals.

Quite simply, when hiring from colleges, recruiters should review the whole candidate, not just their GPA. 

Good Grades Do Not Guarantee Success

From Bill Gates, to Mark Zuckerberg and beyond, many of today’s modern day success did not complete college. 

The late Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, was convinced that there is one characteristic that sets apart all successful entrepreneurs. According to him, that’s pure perseverance because most people give up when encountering rough moments.

Perseverance serves not only entrepreneurs, but employees as well.  A high GPA is not a clear indicator of perseverance.  

Going through challenging events and overcoming obstacles requires strength, a solution-oriented approach, and persistence. But a high GPA is not a clear indicator that one possesses these characteristics. 

Characteristics That Indicate Potential For Success Better Than A High GPA

High GPAs demonstrate a zest for learning and knowledge that reflects in excellent academics. However failure to focus on achievements outside of a candidate’s resume and references may torpedo diversity efforts. 

Those achievements only come into full view when hiring managers ask profound questions and encourage the candidates to talk about a complex problem they had to overcome.

However, even when they ask, recruiters often make a mistake by relating the question to overcoming problems at work. Although that can also speak of one’s abilities, it generally leads to canned responses from candidates. 

Instead, hiring managers should encourage job applicants to freely discuss problems they had to overcome in their personal life, and how that made them grow professionally and personally. 

Those that defeat challenges gain life experience and lessons that reward them with strength and perseverance. This leads to a solution-oriented mindset, which is essential to organizational success.