Higher education is stressful. The workload can be overwhelming at the best of times, and students with full-time jobs and families have even more to juggle. Completing your degree has many sacrifices, from all-night study sessions to missed bedtime stories or nights out with friends, but it'll all be worth it when you land your dream job.
How do you go about doing that, though? What are employers looking for?
There's some debate.
Students often want to know if grades matter for jobs. The short answer is maybe. Some types of employers, like large firms in law and finance, are interested in your GPA. These companies are highly competitive and routinely recruit on college campuses. GPA is an easy way to differentiate between potential employees. Employers may also be interested in your GPA if you're just out of school and don't have relevant job experience.
Your GPA isn't the only thing they care about, however. Employers are interested in whether you can perform the functions of the job. That can be determined by taking a more holistic view of you, your education, and your work. Your major, GPA, activities, previous work experience, are all part of your potential as a candidate.
In addition to your program of study, employers are interested in other skills and attributes. Some examples of these are:
Soft skills like written and verbal communication, empathy, and active listening.
Digital literacy, including how to find information and navigate a computer.
Proficiency with software programs like Microsoft Office, including formatting in Word and Excel formulas.
Passion for the work and the company.
Employers are also interested in the types of activities you were involved in. If you have volunteer experience, were a club officer, or have any other activity, you'll want to include it on your resume. It may give employers a better picture of who you are and the skills you already possess.
Many educational institutions, both in-person and online, including MedCerts, offer certifications teaching these skills. Certifications are typically short, more affordable educational programs focusing on complementary skills.
For example, certification programs specifically for Microsoft Office teach everything an employer will want you to know about using the MS Office suite. A certification for Customer Service will teach many of the soft skills employers are looking for that may not have been included in your college curriculum.
The educational system places so much emphasis on getting good grades that it's easy to forget that they won't matter forever. While employers may have a passing interest in your GPA when you first graduate, grades aren't the only factor determining whether they hire you.
If you're concerned about measuring up to candidates with potentially higher GPAs or more experience or activities, you should consider completing a certification. It will help round out your skills and make you a more attractive candidate to future employers.