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  • Employers Seek Key Attributes on College Grads’ Resumes as Their Focus on GPA Wanes


    BETHLEHEM, PA—College students hoping to attract the attention of employers via their resume should emphasize the skills they gained in their various experiences, such as problem-solving and teamwork skills, according to results of a new report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

    More than six in 10 of employers responding to NACE’s Job Outlook 2023 survey are seeking evidence of a candidate’s 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.)

    “It’s no longer enough for college students just to get good grades,” says Shawn VanDerziel, NACE executive director. “Today’s graduates need to develop competencies that will help them after college through various experiences in and outside of the classroom. 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.”

    Internship experience—both with the employer’s organization and within its industry—is also critically important. In fact, employers identify it as the top deciding factor when two equally qualified candidates are competing for a job opening.

    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,” VanDerziel says.

    “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.

    “Increasingly, employers are more concerned about competency and skills. So, candidates who can demonstrate experience, knowledge, and ability through their resume and applications will have the competitive edge.”

    Figure 1

    Figure 2

    About Job Outlook 2023: 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.

    About NACE: Established in 1956, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) is the only professional association in the United States that connects more than 9,800 college career services professionals, more than 3,300 university relations and recruiting professionals, and more than 300 business solution providers that serve this community.

    NACE is the premier source of market research on career readiness and employment of recent college graduates. NACE forecasts hiring and trends in the job market; tracks salaries, recruiting and hiring practices, and student attitudes and outcomes; and identifies best practices and benchmarks.

    NACE offers its members unparalleled research, networking and professional development opportunities, guidance on standards and ethics, and advocacy on key issues. For more information, visit NACE maintains a virtual press room for the media.