GPA, Work Experience, Resume, Interview, Internship Experience, Work Environment
JOB HUNT / 16 March 2019
GPA vs. Experience: Which Matters More On Your Resume?
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Changfan Chen

As we’re approaching the internship hiring season, it is evident that students are working hard on their resumes and portfolios, trying to make themselves look as impressive as possible. Let’s be real--there’s so much more to a person than words on paper, so what exactly do you need to include on your resume to stand out? Is your GPA all that matters? Or is your overall work experience more important?

The GPA

Yes, some recruiters believe that GPA matters, but to varying degrees. If you are interested in pursuing medical, law, or graduate school, then you should probably take your GPA into heavy consideration. Since you are essentially continuing your education, your undergraduate academic performance is important to universities when deciding whether you’ll be the right fit or not. Additionally, some recruiters may also require a minimum GPA when applying for a job. 


Rafe Gomez, Co-owner of VC Inc. Marketing shares his opinion saying: 

“If you're fresh out of college or grad school, a GPA - as well as the school that you attended - will definitely be significant considerations that hiring managers will be analyzing.  However, once you've been in the workforce, where you attended college/grad school and what your GPA was will be much less meaningful:  what will be of the utmost importance will be the specific data-based solutions, benefits, and results that you delivered while you've been employed.  If you had a 4.0 from a top 10 college but haven't generated much in the way of noteworthy outcomes that were valuable to your employers, the employment value of your collegiate glory days will be less and less relevant to prospective hires.”

 

Work Experience

Typically, work and internship experience are better indicators about a candidate than a GPA. There are so many reasons why it is impossible to completely judge a person based on their grades; every university’s academic rigor varies, some schools face GPA inflation, every student’s extracurriculars differ, and nobody’s personal lives are the same. Regardless, all these factors affect a candidate’s GPA, and one student’s 3.5 GPA may be extremely different from another student’s 3.5 GPA. 

Furthermore, work and school environments tend to be very different. You’ve heard stories of college dropouts who went on to become self-made millionaires (not that I necessarily recommend this path for everyone). These people did not become who they are because of their education or GPA, but because of their ambition and desire to succeed. 


Similarly, a student who excels academically does not always equate to someone who will excel at a job. Therefore, most employers usually prefer a solid track of work experience over a perfect GPA.


What do GPA and Experience Mean to Companies?

“At any other time, GPA is simply a number representing a person’s success in a structured and moderated environment. The truer test of a job applicant’s character has always been revealed to me through his/her life experiences and how the applicant presents during the job interview.” -Leigh Ann from NansDailyDoseofLife.com 


" I think the question of GPA vs. experience on a resume depends on the role you're recruiting for and the type of employee that you want. Personally, I value experience more than a high GPA. Usually, those employees with a wide range of experience are much more open to learning new skills and can cope better under pressure than those who don't have any. That said, I don't automatically discount employees with no experience – it depends entirely on their attitude towards learning on the job and their enthusiasm for the role itself. I don't really believe there are any hard and fast rules – it depends entirely on the unique context of the role that you're recruiting for. " - Stephen Hart, CEO of Cardswitcher


“Our candidates come to us with varying GPAs, but what we think is most important is a combination of life experiences, transferrable skills, and a drive to want to succeed as a professional. We understand that a way a person performs in school can vastly differ from how they perform on the job; there are different motivations, priorities, life-stages, and circumstances that all affect performance. In our experience placing college grads, GPA is a pixel in the full picture of a person’s performance and ability to succeed.” - Katie Drews, Director of Marketing for Avenica 


Take Away: Start Gaining Experience As Early As Possible

What we learn from these managers is that what is taught at school isn’t always what is needed at work, resulting in a huge skill gap that many companies are noticing nowadays when hiring new college graduates. Having a solid GPA or a good track record of work experience may look enticing to a recruiter, but in a pool of hundreds of resumes, what will really help you seal the deal to the job? Having practical, hands-on, and real-life skills will help give recruiters more confidence in knowing that you’re the right candidate for the position. It will set your resume apart from the rest because unlike other candidates, who may lack the specific skill-set for a job, you will be able to start equipped with previous knowledge and training. 


As a college student, it’s important to acquire as much work experience as possible, whether that is through an internship or even a projectship


ProSky can help candidates gain skills and experience. Projects are open to all candidates no matter where they are at with their career. Not only will these projects help candidates get real work experience but they will help them get in front of decision-makers in companies looking to hire and ultimately help them land their dream job!