Increasing number of companies in the western economies are saying that university marks are irrelevant for a hiring decision. They would rather look at skills and attitude rather than academic scores. They do not think, academic scores indicate how well the candidate would be able to perform on the job. What do we do in India?
Academic Scores help pre-qualify applicants
We have a huge number of young people; we add 10 million of them each year to the labour pool. Our economy is growing and employers keep recruiting in large numbers round the year. The private sector generates more than 1 million new jobs each year. However, these opportunities are not adequate to absorb all the new entrants into the labour pool.
There is another challenge at hand. Most of our organizations have too many people compared to their counterparts in the US and continental Europe. There is a significant drive across all organizations to raise productivity in various ways. So, organizations look for the best talent that they can fetch for themselves.
We have a situation: employers are looking for the best so that they can improve their efficiency and there are many aspirants vying for a few opportunities at hand. Like many countries in the world, we in India keep ruing over the gap between what a student brings to the table versus what the employer looks for. So, there are mismatches between demand and supply. Organizations deploy various means to pre-qualify applicants and filter them. Academic scores are used as a tool to carry out this filtration.
Be sure that we are not losing out
Hiring is contextual. There is no method that can remain relevant all the time. Similarly, there is no bad candidate or a good candidate. A candidate who is good for one situation may not be a good match for another. We have to design the selection process such that it is relevant to the organization’s context. We can use academic score as a screening criterion when applicants are many and we are confident that the choice set is adequately large for us to make the selection from.
Further, strong academics being used as a qualifying criterion creates an employer branding that is aspirational and indirectly communicates the quality of work that the organization does for its stakeholders. Google, Microsoft, Apple, GE, IBM, Amazon, Boeing, Walt Disney, Citibank and so on do not take freshers from any college.
Schools and colleges around the world use grades or scores as a qualifier for admissions. Families, teachers, and other influencers bring up the young inspiring them to work hard to turn in good results in their school and college. While there are a score of other factors which determine the success of a person, academics cannot be thrown out of the mix completely.
Lateral hiring is a different ballgame
For our context in India, we have to use college grades and the type of college as a factor for fresher hiring. However, lateral hiring is a different ballgame. We need skills, experience, and insights. College degrees and scores could just be the indicators of the kind of experiences one has under one’s belt. Many times, students get invaluable training and exposure in areas like collaborative working, planning and organizing events, managing finances, negotiating conflicting priorities, influencing opinions, dealing with diversity, innovative execution and so on. Each one of these become significant values in leadership roles. Academic scores may not matter as much as the experience during the critical formative years as an adult do.
Sometimes, scores in an examination might just go down due to circumstances around a student. Given the fact that the courses taught and topics discussed do not well-develop the skills demanded by the industry, scores in the exams do not reflect talent well. Hence, one need not be obsessed with college degrees and scores.
Throwing away CGPAs out of the window is not an option!
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