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  • As Their Focus on GPA Fades, Employers Seek Key Skills on College Grads’ Resumes

    November 15, 2022 | By Kevin Gray

    Candidate Selection
    Two business professionals shake hands.

    TAGS: trends and predictions, surveys, nace insights

    Career services practitioners can help college students attract the attention of employers via their resume by encouraging them to highlight the skills they developed—such as problem-solving and teamwork skills—through their various experiences, according to NACE’s Job Outlook 2023 report.

    Specifically, students should know that more than 60% of employers responding to NACE’s Job Outlook 2023 survey are seeking evidence of their abilities to solve problems and to work in a team. In addition, at least half report looking for a strong work ethic, analytical/quantitative skills, written communication skills, and technical skills on the resumes of the job candidates they consider. (See Figure 1.)

    Also of critical importance is internship experience—both with the employer’s organization and within its industry. In fact, when two equally qualified candidates are competing for a job opening, employers cite internship experience as the top deciding factor.

    One area that is becoming increasingly obsolete for candidate screening is GPA. Just four years ago, in NACE’s Job Outlook 2019 survey, nearly three-quarters of respondents planned to screen candidates by GPA. In this year’s survey, just 37% of respondents plan to do so. (See Figure 2.)

    The fact that employers’ use of GPA as a screening tool has plummeted in recent years suggests that the competition for talent has employers rethinking their initial screening procedures. It further signals a recognition that screening by GPA may weaken efforts to build an inclusive workforce as it can put students who are balancing school with work and other responsibilities at a disadvantage in the job market.

    As employers are increasingly concerned about competency and skills, candidates who can demonstrate experience, knowledge, and ability through their resume and applications will have the competitive edge. Beyond that, and what can really make them stand out from other candidates, is the ability to connect these skills and qualities they develop to the position and articulate that connection to prospective employers.

    Data for the Job Outlook 2023 survey were collected from August 3, 2022, through September 16, 2022. Of the 246 total respondents, 150 were NACE employer members, representing 17.4% of eligible member respondents. The Job Outlook 2023 survey was also distributed to nonmember companies, from which an additional 96 responses were received. NACE will update the hiring projections in spring 2023. The Job Outlook 2023 report is available to NACE members in MyNACE.

    Figure 1

    Figure 2