When you are in school, your teachers and your parents all emphasize the importance of getting good grades. Grades are a great way to gauge your mastery of certain topics while you are in school, but once you graduate no one really cares about your grades anymore. The only time your GPA will come into play in the real world is when you need to get your foot in the door for an interview, but once you are in the interviewer’s office it’s all about the soft skills.
Most interviewers know whether they will hire you within the first few minutes of a job interview, and that determination is not based on your college transcript at all. Employers are looking for candidates who are a good fit for their organizations based on things like strong written and verbal communication skills, leadership potential, problem solving abilities, and the ability to work with a team.
So what do you do when you find yourself going in for a job interview and you aren’t sure how to prepare? Start by brushing up on soft skills. Spending time improving on your areas of weakness can help you succeed in the job market well into the future. And getting the job isn’t the time to stop improving- there will always be promotions and other job interviews in the future that you can prepare for by continuing to improve your skills and thereby your marketability.
Some large companies still look at things like where you went to school- Facebook, Google, Morgan Stanley, and Microsoft all have high percentages of employees who have attended top 200 schools. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get ahead even in these organizations- it’s all about your ability to continue to develop yourself as an employee.
Developing yourself as an employee can take many forms. There are continuing education classes for focusing on specific skills, or you can even work on a side project to learn more about a given topic. Reading, especially self-help or skills development books, is a great way to develop yourself even further. Professional clubs and organizations that host monthly lunch and learn meetings are also valuable resources for learning new things and meeting other motivated professionals.
Learn more about the importance of soft skills from this infographic. Your GPA might get you in the door, but it’s not the end all be all. Fortunately you can continue to learn after school has ended.