Your resume is your first impression. It needs to be polished and reflect your best work, leaving the hiring manager no choice but to give you a call for an interview.
The question I hear the most from college students who are looking for work is whether or not their GPA should be included on their resume.
The answer, according to a report by U.S. News, is “it depends”.
The report said that GPAs have little value on resumes if:
- They are less than 3.5
- You are more than three years out of college, and
- Your degree is highly relevant to the position
In addition, “GPAs should be included if specifically requested by the hiring company and if they speak directly to the job need of a junior applicant,” U.S. News wrote.
“If included, GPAs should be presented with only one digit to the right of the decimal, with clarification as to the scale, and with honest rounding. For example, 3.54 is written as “3.5 on a 4.0 scale” and 3.55 is a 3.6.”
The report noted that it might be a good idea to also include your “in-major” GPA and your GPA after your first year of college. Both of these techniques could provide more context for the hiring manager and make your application look more impressive, especially if your GPA is under 3.5.
Should you include your GPA in your cover letter? No, according to the report. Instead, use your cover letter to highlight accomplishments and qualifications for the job rather than plugging your GPA number.
And, the same concept applies to your interview. Unless you’re asked for it, dropping your GPA in an interview could backfire. “One would expect that natural intelligence will come across during an interview, but a skilled interviewee will find ways to display achievement.”
CNBC concurs with this assessment. Unless required, only consider including your GPA on your resume if it’s over 3.5 and you are a recent graduate without a breadth of experience to boost your resume.
“It’s not that a 3.0 GPA is bad, but experts point out that it isn’t particularly noteworthy, either. In fact, if you include a GPA lower than a 3.0 on your resume you could risk hurting your hiring chances.”
Every company’s requirements will look different. Be sure to understand expectations before applying for a job, especially if you are fresh out of college.
Google, for example, no longer asks for GPAs on resumes unless the job candidate just graduated from college, arguing that GPAs and other standardized test scores bear little relevance to the candidate’s qualifications for doing the job.
“Academic environments are artificial environments. People who succeed there are sort of finely trained, they’re conditioned to succeed in that environment,” remarked Laszlo Bock, Google’s Senior Vice President of People Operations in an interview with the New York Times.
Remember, the average job recruiter spends less than 10 seconds on each resume. Most job applicants do not have a lot of time to woo the recruiter.
To make a lasting impression, get right to the point. Be clear and direct. Don’t include GPAs or test scores unless required. Keep your resume focused on your achievements and qualifications for the position.