Importance of GPA differs with careers

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As students and post graduates begin constructing their resumes, the importance of a grade point average (GPA) may differ depending on the position, but the general consensus is while work experience is more important, a good GPA doesn’t hurt one’s chances of landing a job in a competitive labor market.

According to Sharis Amirian, a peer mentor for the CSUN Career Center and a graduate student in college counseling and student services, the importance of GPA depends on the employer.

“If you are applying for a job in biochemistry and your major was biochemistry, they are probably going to ask for your GPA,” Armirian said. “If your major is similar to the job you are applying to, it might be more important to include it.”

“Generally, we don’t advise students to include their GPA on their resumes unless its really good,” she added. “But if your GPA is on your resume, be ready to talk about it.”

According to Judy Lam, graduate intern for the Career Center, some employers and even internships require GPA in order to apply for positions, and those with lower GPA’s may have an issue.

“If they have a low GPA, they should probably explain in their cover letter why they had a lower GPA and why they should still be a good candidate for the job,” Lam said.

According to Ben Lou, who works as an equities managing director for the Getty Trust in Los Angeles, a decent GPA matters mainly because it shows the candidate is a hard worker.

“A solid GPA shows that the person is diligent,” said Lou who recently hired an assistant manager for the Getty Trust. “But it is only important if they are a recent college grad.”

Lou said that the applicants GPA didn’t need to be perfect, but anything under a 3.3 probably wouldn’t be competitive.

Both Lam and Amirian agree that work experience is more important than GPA in today’s job market.

If a student has a great GPA they should feature it on their resume, but in today’s job market, work experience is more important, said Lam.

Keith Gregory, a lawyer at Snell & Wilmer, said GPA isn’t the most important factor in a hiring decision but it can only help the chances of applicants just out of law school.

“We take a holistic approach when hiring to decide what makes someone unique. GPA is just one of the things we consider.” Gregory said. “Should it be the sole factor? I don’t think so. Undergraduate GPA is important because it will help the student get into a good law school,” said Gregory.

Senior liberal studies major Farrah Masoumi, said she believes that GPA shouldn’t matter that much to potential employers.

“GPA doesn’t necessarily reflect a persons personality or ability. It is just a number,” Masoumi said. “The only thing it really shows is that someone is good at taking tests.”

Sophomore Gloria Jea said she was asked to provide her GPA to her part-time employer at Panda Express.

“I think (employers) just want to see that you’re hardworking,” said Jae.

According to Admissions and Records, a student’s GPA cannot be released without written consent from the student. There is no way for potential employers to verify GPA without the help of the student.

Senior theater major Angelica Thomas said that most of the part-time jobs she has worked or applied for have not asked for her GPA.

“I think its probably different when applying for a career,” Thomas said, who is looking into going into teaching after graduation. “But just because someone has a good GPA doesn’t mean they are going to be good at (their job). If someone graduates with good grades who is trying to be a teacher, it doesn’t mean they are going to be good at making a lesson plan.”

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers expect to hire 13 percent more new college graduates from the class of 2013 than they did in 2012. Graduates with degrees in business, engineering and computer information and managing are in highest demand.

NACE’s survey revealed that 37.6 percent of employers had “firm plans to recruit in spring 2013,” which is up from 34.4 percent from last year’s Job Outlook 2012 survey.


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