Do your post-secondary grades matter when applying for a role in Canada?  

Employers have varying opinions when it comes to giving importance to grades. Some of them can use your grades or GPA as a yardstick (especially if you’re a fresh graduate or applying for a very competitive field), while others will be far more interested in your portfolio, your project work, and any internships you may have been accomplished. However, GPAs can be especially useful when you’re switching careers and applying for jobs that don’t require your specific degree. How much do grades, GPAs, and degrees really matter when getting a job in Canada? 


What do grades tell employers & recruiters about you? 

Grades mean more than whether you know the course material. Grades and GPAs demonstrate discipline, consistency, your ability to organize your workload, and to some extent, your critical thinking skills as well as your knowledge of a particular topic. This is why some recruiters will be more interested in a portfolio or a project that you have worked on, as it lets them understand if you have learned to apply what you have learned. Employers are also aware that grades can be subjective, so they assess candidates based on other factors. 

The truth is that the post-secondary education system often fails to teach or gauge several qualities that are required at jobs. Creativity, soft skills, leadership qualities, and even critical thinking are not always adequately tested in the process of acquiring good grades. Recruiters will often try to assess your potential with these skills during the recruitment process via behavioural interviews and aptitude tests or personality assessments. Here’s a quick guide on how to handle difficult interview questions 


When do grades or GPAs matter in Canada? 

In many cases, your grades or GPA will be the only way for an employer or recruiter to understand your competence for that specific job. There are certain fields – education, finance, law, and health – where grades absolutely matter and will be prioritized in the recruitment process. MBA graduates (specifically finance and accounting) or candidates looking to join the health sector need to make sure that their GPA is on par with what is required. With engineering jobs a higher GPA might make you a more attractive candidate, but experience and your engineering specialty may be weighted more heavily. 

In any other sector, if you are a fresh graduate with absolutely no experience, your grades will ultimately be the only way for recruiters and employers to decide if they want to go ahead with you. Your GPA will never be the one thing that gets you the job, but an impressive GPA will surely make you stand out.  


How do I get around a low GPA? 

At times, you might need to justify a lower GPA. For example, if you had full-time work during the semester, or were dealing with personal issues such as a medical emergency. Very few people put their GPA on their resume, and it is not expected. However, it may come up in conversation if you have recently graduated, and then the onus will be on you to prove that you deserve the job. Have you demonstrated an ability to apply your skills on a project, internship, or through freelance work? If you have a very-low GPA, your potential employer may need a strong reason to overlook it if the topic of grades comes up 



Good grades might not be the thing that gets you your job, but achieving high marks can help you stand out in the recruiting process. Regardless of what your GPA is, it is advisable to have some work experience to complement your post-secondary education. Being able to apply your skills, not just communicate the theory, is an asset for every candidate. Your grades will fortunately only matter early in your career. Once you have worked in the industry for a few years your GPA quickly begins to lose relevance. 

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