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PrintHow much weight do recruiters give to degrees, GPAs and name-brand institutions over other attributes? Is there a pecking order at work where graduates of top-tier schools gain preference over others? Do we let raw talent escape by faulty screening criteria? Unfortunately, the situation has already been compounded well before we reach the recruitment stage.

Academic achievement is the prized output of classrooms, teachers and schools. Gold stars and multiple ‘A’s’ are proudly displayed and are almost a guarantee to entry into top colleges and universities around the world. The graduates of these top schools then get preference when recruiters come calling and the dreaded filter of a GPA cut-off is applied. But what is a recruiter to do in order to manage the vast numbers that have to be dealt with as objectively as possible?

Another way to look at this conundrum: does everyone who graduates at the top of the class reach the top of his/her profession? There is so much more to delivery in the workplace than what we learn in school. The ‘content’ of the classroom, for which we get our grades, has little or no relevance in the real world where a host of other skills and attributes come into play.

As this is cricket season, let’s take as an example – the English Cricket team. For the second consecutive time they have been knocked out at the league stag despite having impeccable credentials. (For some reason, their football team doesn’t do too well either but that is a story for another day).

I quote from a column in DAWN by Ayaz Memon: “The biggest lesson from England’s debacle in the World Cup is that cricket matches are not won by data mining – which has been the subject of so much discussion by coach Peter Moores in recent months – but by talent, passion, intelligent planning, and deep ambition.” You see, England focused too much on the ‘academic’ side of cricket and forgot about the rest.

Don’t get me wrong: quality education from a quality school can do wonders for the quality of output and a career trajectory. However, if the other attributes described above are lacking, then that wonderful degree will amount to little.

For a successful career, formal education is perhaps only a single room in a very large building. How you go about developing everything else will be key to your success.

– Leon Menezes
The writer is a senior HR practitioner, professor-of-practice and an executive coach.