Over on Lindsey Pollak's blog, there's a great debate worth reading on whether GPA matters--and on how to get a great job with a low GPA.

Take a moment and check it out if you have time. If not, here's a brief recap: corporate recruiting programs often use GPA as a filter, but some studies show it matters less than you might think in the long-term. Dan Schawbel suggested that internships and personal branding can go a long way in filling the gaps, another comment by Jun Loayza suggests that effective use of social media and personal branding is good but that we have a long way to go before companies with highly selective recruiting programs view it over GPA.

Here is my response, which I thought you might find relevant to your own career:

I agree with Dan that having strong internship experience can sometimesallow one to trump a candidate who has higher GPA; I also agree with Jun Loayza that social media and personal branding "can’t get you a job with Bain." I’d just add one suggestion to their comments–it is sometimes curiosity and depth of interest that “lands the job.” The job doesn’t always go to the candidate who has the strongest GPA or internship experience, but sometimes goes to the candidate who is the most articulate about the skills they offer and how they meet the needs of the organization at which they are interviewing.

So from that angle, I recommend candidates study companies as if they were writing a research paper–i.e.

From the Company Perspective:
* What do press releases say about new developments and initiatives, or the impact of the economy on the company?
* How is the company performing relative to the industry?
* What are future goals and corporate strategic plans? (i.e. Look for annual reports)

From the Job Perspective:
* What are the responsibilities of the position and how does your background align with the qualifications and job functions?
* What are the *most important* skills you can have in this particular role?
* What do employers need most for success in this position? (Ask someone who works in a similar capacity at another organization/ I once asked an architect what he needed in an entry-level hire and he said, “business skills--because it’s not just about design–we run a business, too.")

If you apply for positions using this perspective and demonstrate that you understand the role and the company, you’ll stand out regardless of GPA because you start out by demonstrating your relevance–and that can go a long way!

Do you have any thoughts and suggestions on how to counteract the low GPA challenge? I'd love to hear them! (And in the interim, I thank Lindsey for her thought provoking post).

To Your Success,