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I'm doing my master's degree in computer science in a university in Germany. Unfortunately, I'm not one of the best students; my average mark will be around 2.8.

How important is the average mark when applying for a job?

I know, there are other important factors, such as work experience, etc.
But I'm afraid that if another applicant has an average mark of, say, 1.8, they will just ignore my application.

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  • Can you clarify how the average mark is calculated or some more background to help readers who might not be from Germany? – Anthony Feb 1 '15 at 15:09
  • 1.0 would be excellent. 4.0 would be just barely passed. 2.8 is not particularly good. – gnasher729 Feb 2 '15 at 9:05
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I don't think you should worry about it. If you are getting interviews, that's a clear indication employers are interested in you. When you go to the interview, stress your strengths. You might have to go to more interviews than a person who has a 1.0 but that's no big deal and it's also dependent upon other variables as well. For example, how mature they perceive you to be could be very important. Regardless of anyone's mark, employers don't want an employee who is going to be a problem in any way.

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An average mark is just that. An average. But companies don't need people that are good in everything. They need people that are good in their thing.

If for example, you are looking to work in Wolfsburg, Stuttgart or Hildesheim, a great master thesis about automotive/embedded computing is worth more than any average mark.

If you are looking to work for a financial instituition, your grades in BWL/VWL might be looked at more closely, while if your worked for Greenpeace they might look favorably at the fact that you arrived by bike or public transport.

There's two sorts of employers that actually look at average grades: The big ones like Microsoft and Google, just because they can. They can filter for grades first and still have enough applicants to hand pick those they want. And then there's the buerocratic ones like unions, public offices, academia and the like. They filter, because they don't know better. They aren't looking for the best for the job, they are surprised someone will actually work for that little money.

So normally it comes down to the following order:

  1. work experience
  2. any other experience of the kind the company is looking for (master thesis, optional courses, marks in those courses they are interested in )
  3. personal charisma
  4. average marks

Obviously, this is a slightly weighted scale. If your average is 1.0, I don't need to look at your BWL marks explicitly, if your average mark says "failed", I'll probably not invite you.

Find your thing and look for the company that is looking for it and you won't have problems with average marks. That doesn't mean that there isn't someone out there who's even better than you at your thing, but for every job he gets, there is one less competitor for the next job offer.

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  • +1. And for "work experience": i work in a small company and most of the entry level jobs are filled with guys that wrote their bachelor/master thesis here. That was the case for me, too - and as you do not even write an application noone cares about marks at all. – Flo Feb 1 '15 at 14:04
  • @nvoigt The full truth of your statement about government jobs is FANTASTICALLY true. Government jobs, even after factoring in pensions and other benefits, still don't pay as well as the private sector. – Inquisitive Feb 1 '15 at 16:37

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