Wouldn’t life be great if you could just get a 4.0? You’d graduate with honors and find a long line of recruiters waiting to hire you for your dream job at a dream salary. A 4.0 is a ticket to Easy Street.
Or is it? Anyone who thinks that a 4.0 is enough to get a great job is in for a rude awakening in the interview process. Yes, academic achievement says a lot about intelligence, logic, effort, and organizational skills, all of which are attractive qualities. But recruiters are looking for much more. The best candidates for almost any job display broad range of “Winning Characteristics” including those above and Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Group Skills, and Communication skills. Candidates who have used their college years to build this critical skill set, in addition to getting good grades, have a significant advantage in the job market.
Even in more technical fields such as engineering, accounting, and architecture, employers look for well-rounded employees who can work well with clients and co-workers, take charge of complex projects and produce results. Let’s face it, you won’t see a job ad like this: “looking for a candidate who will sit quietly at a desk, take notes, and complete reading and written assignments, study alone, and correctly answer written questions every six weeks.”
Don’t miss the point here. Good grades are important in the job market. A consistent C student will have difficulty getting interviews while a 3.3 student with a 3.6 in his or her major will get quite a few. But once an interview starts, attention will quickly turn to extracurricular involvement, leadership, and work experiences. A 4.0 is a tremendous achievement, but slightly lower grades coupled with internship experience, a solid list of extracurricular activities and good communication skills will probably be more attractive to a manager with an important job opening.
So work hard to get good grades. But also put effort toward other activities and work experience to make the most of your college experience.