Many employers come to me claiming they can’t find the key entry-level talent they need to move their business forward. The conversation goes something like this.
Chad, we are not finding the talent we need to fill our pipeline.
(My response) What are you looking for?
Ideally we’re looking for someone with experience in [insert some narrow field here] with a grade point average of 3.5 out of 4 or better.
And that right there, folks, is the problem.
I am not a big fan of GPAs. In fact I think they’re a horrible indicator of potential talent. I have mentored numerous young professionals with GPAs lower than 2.5 that are great leaders and innovators within their organizations, given the right opportunity and environment.
Grades are designed to assess a student’s mastery of course material—which, depending on the course, may or may not have any bearing on the real job at hand. Granted, in some cases grades might reflect work ethic or intelligence, but we need to be very careful not to make assumptions based on a number. GPAs rarely account for the intangibles that make a person effective in the workplace—including learning styles, character, interpersonal skills and creativity.
I understand companies use GPAs as screening mechanisms when there is an abundant flow of talent pouring into their organization. However, these same companies are not willing to take a risk or flex when the pool dries up. Then they complain about it.
As the talent war progresses, organizations may need to loosen their stringent GPA requirements. When screeners increase the GPA standard from 3.0 to 3.5 to 3.75, they continue to decrease their pool of candidates. I am amazed at employers who tell me they cannot find candidates and yet their hurdles are so high that even Superman would have a tough time getting an interview. Give me a hard-working, passionate individual that wants to make a difference and an opportunity to coach him/her, and I can likely fill that opportunity with a dynamite employee as you sit continuing to look for your perfect candidate.
So—you want to fill your key entry-level roles with qualified people? Look beyond the GPA. You might find there’s a whole crop of young talent just waiting to be discovered.