Does CGPA matter in getting a job?
As per the existing socio-cultural practices, a community like ours value CGPAs very highly. Students firmly believe that obtaining a high CGPA is the only gateway to secure a good job. Therefore, most students spend their academic career chasing high grades, instead of spending time to build and develop the much required soft/life skills.
CGPA reflects an individual's efforts only in academics. One could argue that a poor CGPA reflects less effort whereas a higher grade reflects the opposite. It can hardly capture someone's ability. Surely ability and effort and two different entities, and one can never substitute the other. Thus, we will find many who have struggled in academics have flourished in their career.
However, the fact is that CGPA often works as the first parameter when applying or being considered for a job. This is not because it presents a comprehensive idea of the candidate's skills to the employer, but to shorten the list of applications. Mostly, during job interviews it has been observed that if a student graduates with a minimal or low CGPA to meet the circular pre-requisite, employers tend to focus on their skills instead of their grades.
Nowadays, employers/corporations look for skills, qualities and experience; attributes that aren't always captured by one's CGPA. In other words, your CGPA may get you to the door, but it is not going to close the deal. There are other important factors — your creativity, interpersonal skills, critical thinking, team spirit, decision making skills, and presentation and communication ability — that are likely to be far more relevant than the grades you received in your student life.
My main objective of writing this article is not to de value the CGPA. If you obtain a high CGPA, it is an outstanding achievement in itself. But if you do not have a high CGPA then do not give up. My point of writing is to remind young graduates that there are other ways available to stand out in your career.
Therefore, do not only run after grades but also focus on building relevant skills during your student life. CGPAs can serve as predictors of success, but they are not a more important measure to employers than actual experience. So, get involved with student clubs, event organisation, cultural practice and charity/volunteer work during your academic life. All these will give you first-hand experience of the real world. Also, these will help you to build your personality and other traits. You will learn how to work in a team, how to manage others, how to resolve conflicts, how to take an effective and timely decision, and most importantly how to communicate and lead effectively. These experiences will make you a complete, all-rounded choice for the employer.
I have learnt from my vocation as a career specialist and HR personnel that recruiters look for a 'complete package' when hunting for prospective employees for their organisation, instead of looking out for the 'best student'. Your CGPA/grades are surely an important part of this package but you have to remember that they are not the entire package. There are other valuable attributes that are needed to be obtained to be a versatile asset for any organisation. These are soft skills - often known as life skills – such as self awareness, critical thinking, effective communication, decision making, creative thinking, problem solving, empathy and ability to build interpersonal relationships. If one can achieve a good enough CGPA along with relevant life skills and experience, they will be the complete package that employers look for during recruitment.
Also, always try to build and expand your network. This is the age of communication and networking. The bigger your network, the higher will be the chances for you to get a job offer. This is the current worldwide trend and will remain so for at least the next few decades.
Regardless of where your CGPA falls on the four-point scale, always remember that job hunts are not about displaying your grades but about demonstrating your skills and worth. Ensure that you have relevant experience and projects, a formidable skill set, and a solid professional network — because, no matter what your GPA is, these are the factors that employers today value most.
The writer is a career specialist. He is also the Director of Career Services Office, State University Bangladesh.