When you’re in school, your grade point average seems like a big deal. In the professional world, not so much. For some situations, it makes sense to boast about your GPA. For others, it not only wastes resume space, but it can also actively work against you.
So how do you know when it’s important to include GPA, especially when applying to jobs out of college?
That’s a lot of competition for post-graduate job opportunities. Many of these former students will embark on a fresh, professional career, without much to put on their resume. So can GPA make a difference? Here are some questions to consider:
When Did You Graduate?
Once you land your first post-school job, your GPA suddenly becomes an outdated topic. Future employers will want to know how well you performed in a professional setting. Your academic performance becomes a secondary concern.
As a result, keep in mind how long it’s been since you’ve left school. If you’re still looking to land that first post-graduation gig, you might need to fill your resume with something…anything. An impressive GPA might be your best asset.
However, at some point, you’ll build up a respectable work history. At that point, you can drop the GPA.
Does Your GPA Help?
Don’t brag about something that won’t impress anyone. If you have a bad-to-mediocre GPA, you’re not doing yourself any favors by blazoning it all over your resume and cover letter. Far from separating you from the competition, you’ll just confirm yourself as a middle-of-the-pack performer.
In these cases, skip the GPA and focus on other aspects of your academic career. Did you belong to any clubs? Participate in any sports? Earn any honors or scholarships? These line items might do you more good than an unimpressive grade-point average.
On the other hand, if you have a strong GPA, you might consider making it a selling point. However, even in these cases, your class rank might have more sway. It puts your GPA in context, showing where you stand among your peers.
Do You Have Any Appropriate Experience?
Experience counts much more for employers than GPA. The more you can fill out your work history with relevant gigs, the easier you’ll find the job market.
It’s a matter of emphasis: if you have the experience to highlight, focus on that. If not, you’ll need to sell your potential. GPA can do that…an impressive figure can show your ability to succeed, even if you don’t have the real-world proof just yet.
How Relevant Is Your Degree to the Particular Job?
It also matters how closely your academic work targets your chosen profession. A lawyer coming out of law school will get a lot of mileage from their GPA. However, applying for a finance job with an English degree…it might not matter much. For that reason, you might consider breaking out your “subject matter” GPA, especially if there’s a big difference between your performance in certain classes.
Say you’re applying for a graphic design position. You have a degree, but your GPA is mediocre. However, that’s the case because you excelled in your graphic design classes, but blew off less relevant prerequisites, like history.
If you need to include your GPA, you might get more mileage by computing your performance in just those classes that apply to the job at hand. (Hopefully, you paid enough attention in math to do the calculation.)
Just getting into the workforce? The transition from school can be difficult, especially if you lack the right professional experience. A top-flight staffing agency, like Recruiting In Motion, can get you the jobs you need to build your resume and work toward that perfect position.