The Mindless Race for Marks: Do Good Grades Equate to a Good Job?

Not everybody is Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or Mark Zuckerberg. Not everybody can just drop out of college and still achieve phenomenal success. Hardworking geniuses can, but not everybody has a high IQ. But that does not mean you cannot find success. 

What people call the creme de la creme constitutes not even 1% of the population. And while many of them form valuable, top-ranking employees, you will not find a lot of CEOs who used to be toppers. This is because it is not good grades or stellar degrees that determine how well you perform in the real world. There are skills beyond your bookish knowledge that you need for professional success.

Why Your Grades Don’t Matter

Your marks are only partially responsible for getting you a good job. There are many other factors in play in the recruitment pipeline:

  • At the end of the day, your employer would be much more concerned about whether you have leadership skills or if you can meet deadlines rather than if you scored 90% in Chemistry or aced the paper on World History.
  • If you are applying through an online portal, grades will only be used as a filter in the first shortlisting. After that, it is all about your skills and how you perform in the hiring test or the interview.
  • Grades matter whatever bit they do in the first job only. If you are looking for your next job, the hirers would only look at how you performed in your last job.
  • Experience matters more than grades. If you have any kind of experience in the field the company works in, even like attending seminars by famous people or doing community work, the company will be assured that you are coming in with some knowledge of what you have to do and will perform better than others.
  • Employers know very well that a topper will know exactly as much about their job role as the mediocre person – zero. Our education system is not one that puts much stress on making us world-smart. At the end of the day, any new recruit, no matter what their academic track record, will have to be given extensive training to make them job-ready.

How to Get Past Less-Than-Perfect Grades

Now we know that no matter how much we assure you, you will still worry that your mediocre or bad grades will make every good opportunity slip from your fingers. So, if you want to be extra sure that your grades do not factor in on your chances of employment, here are some tips you can remember:

  • Make a killer resume. The right resume will emphasize on your skills instead of your grades. Choose a skill-highlighting resume format that will help you do that easily.
  • If you have really bad grades, just don’t mention them until it comes up in the conversation. Often, recruiters are satisfied with knowing what degree you completed rather than your entire transcript.
  • If the topic does come up and you have to tell your recruiters the grades you are not very proud of, let them know clearly why they may not be up to their expectations. Maybe you had to work to support yourself. Maybe you had an emergency. Maybe you were into extra-curricular activities. Or maybe even you realized halfway it was not for you. Being honest will earn you brownie points.
  • If you are not very good at studies, you should branch out. Join a club, take part in the student council, do volunteer work, etc. Then, when you are trying to get a job, you can tell them you were focusing on gaining and polishing skills that would help you in this job. For example, tell them that heading a club taught you leadership skills. Or being an NCC cadet helped you become highly disciplined.
  • If you feel your grades can come in the way of a good job, try getting an internship first, or do freelance work. Once you have experience in the professional field that shows you can be successful in the field, hirers would welcome you easily.
  • Networking can save your life when grades cannot. Building connections and earning references can help you assure recruiters you are right for the job.
  • Be informed about what the company is doing right now or what its greatest demand is. Casually mention that when you are talking about what makes you the right candidate. On one side, the recruiter would be impressed by your interest in the company’s advancement, and on the other, they will be Pavlov-ed into associating your skills with their current needs.
  • Ace that interview. It is your best chance to convince your future employers that the workplace will be enriched by your addition. Most jobs are nabbed on the strength of the impression you make in the interview.

Last Word

Perhaps the most important tip is to not give up. Every job seeker faces rejection in the beginning. A bad grade does not mean the end of the world. If you keep trying, you will find the right job for you.

Arindam Dhar

Arindam Dhar

Business Head at Maven Workforce | A research-oriented professional with significant life-cycle recruiting experience and passion for leveraging technology and innovative ideas to achieve high quality hires in a timely manner.