Advice for Employers and Recruiters

19.3% fewer employers using GPA to screen candidates

Steven Rothberg AvatarSteven Rothberg
May 17, 2021

Talk with just about anyone about their experiences over the past 1.5 years and you’re likely to hear about a number of epiphanies they had or, put another way, “aha moments”. Trust me, I had a lot of them and am a better person for them.

One of the areas that I learned the most about over the past year related to the value to the bottom line of an employer due to it properly recruiting, managing, and retaining a workforce that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. Some of the systemic challenges faced by DEI advocates were created deliberately and others through ignorance. An example of a challenge that I suspect was far more often a symptom of ignorance than a deliberate attempt to discriminate against people of color and other diverse candidates was the use of grade point averages by employers who wanted to hire the candidates they felt would be the most productive. For many employers, the higher the GPA, the better the candidate.

What I learned over the past year was that very, very, very few employers have done any research at all into the correlation between GPAs and work performance and those who have done that research have often found a poor and sometimes even inverse correlation. Why would a candidate who is more intelligence perform worse on the job? Quite simply, because having a high GPA does not mean that you’re more intelligent and it is highly correlated with job hoppers — those who work for an employer for a relatively short period of time. In addition, people of color and other diverse candidates have lower GPAs, on average, than do their white, male classmates yet study after study have demonstrated that the more diverse a workforce is, the more productive that workforce is.

Thankfully, more and more employers understand what I’ve only recently discovered: that using GPA to screen candidates is counterproductive and so they’ve ceased doing so. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), more than 70 percent of employers used GPA to screen candidates as recently as five years ago. Today, that number is only under 57 percent, a decrease of more than 19 percent.

According to NACE, “This trend is almost certainly being driven by employers diversifying their workforces in response to social justice issues. Since GPA is seen by many as a barrier to employment without it being a valid indicator of a candidate’s ability to do the job, employers are eliminating the GPA cutoff to help expand the candidate pool and produce more diversity in their new hires.”

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