Percentage of Employers Screening College Graduates by GPA Drops Sharply

April 6, 2021 | By Kevin Gray

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TAGS: nace insights, surveys, trends and predictions,

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Just 56.6% of employers are using GPA to screen college graduates from the Class of 2021 for open positions, according to NACE’s Job Outlook 2021 Spring Update.

This is a sharp decline from just two years ago, when nearly three-quarters of respondents planned to screen candidates by GPA. (See Figure 1.)

This trend is almost certainly being driven by employers diversifying their workforces in response to social justice issues. Since GPA is seen by many as a barrier to employment without it being a valid indicator of a candidate’s ability to do the job, employers are eliminating the GPA cutoff to help expand the candidate pool and produce more diversity in their new hires.

Although fewer respondents are screening candidates by GPA, the average reported GPA cutoff remains at 3.0. In past reports, the groups of respondents using GPA cutoffs higher and lower than 3.0 were evenly split. This year, less than 9% of respondents will use a GPA cutoff greater than 3.0, while almost 20% will use a lower GPA cutoff (between 2.5 and 3.0) to screen new college graduates.

The Job Outlook 2021 Spring Update survey updates hiring projections for the Class of 2021. The original projections were reported in Job Outlook 2021, which was published in October 2020. The Job Outlook 2021 Spring Update survey was conducted from February 17 – March 12, 2021. Of the 207 total respondents, 146 were NACE employer members, representing 17.1% of eligible member respondents. The Job Outlook 2021 Spring Update survey was also distributed to nonmember companies; this group provided an additional 61 responses. The Job Outlook 2021 report is available in MyNACE

Figure 1: Screen candidates by GPA, by percentage of respondents

Recruiting Year
Percentage of Respondents56.6%
Percentage of Respondents63.0%
Percentage of Respondents73.3%
Percentage of Respondents67.5%
Percentage of Respondents70.1%
Recruiting Year Percentage of Respondents
2021 56.6%
2020 63.0%
2019 73.3%
2018 67.5%
2017 70.1%
Source: Job Outlook 2021 Spring Update, National Association of Colleges and Employers