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Effective Resume - GPA on Resume

Putting Your GPA on the Resume - Good Idea or Bad?

© David Alan Carter
All Rights Reserved

Let's say you're working through your senior year of college and staring down the barren desert of a resume you've been poking at the past few weeks. You've got to be asking yourself, "do I put this lousy GPA on the resume, or leave it off?"

The short answer is... it depends. It depends on your chosen career field, it depends on the extent of the other qualifications being detailed on the resume. And finally, it depends on the GPA itself. Let's consider these issues separately.

GPA on Resume - Good Idea or Bad?Your Chosen Career Field

Employers recruiting new graduates into technical fields are going to taking GPA quite seriously. They expect to see it on a resume, or you can expect to be asked about its absence within the first few minutes of an interview – if your resume gets you to an interview in the first place. GPAs in non-technical fields are not as scrutinized, though of course, it can depend on the individual employer.

Other Qualifications on the Resume

If you've held at least one full-time job for a year or more, and that job has particular relevance to the career path you've chosen, then GPA – indeed much of your educational background – can take a backseat. In this example, that job will be detailed in the "experience" section which will be placed above the "education" section.

The GPA Itself

The average college GPA is in the neighborhood of 2.7. That figure is not exactly a ringing endorsement of academic prowess. If this is your neighborhood, leave if off. The typical rule of thumb is to include an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher. Struggling here? Then consider your GPA in your major courses alone. If this figure is higher than your overall grade point average, include your major GPA and skip the overall if it is below 3.0.

One last creative twist for those with lousy overall GPAs. Consider your scores during the last two years of college. Are they better than the overall? Many times this is the case, as students tend to find their footing and buckle down the final half of their college term. If this is your case, and you've determined that your resume needs a number, highlight the GPA for your last two years and skip the overall.

Every resume competing... in today's tough job market needs to be extremely well written. Especially those for entry level and recent grads. Is you're competitive? It's never too late to consider a professional resume service.

But beware, not all resume services are created equal. Former recruiter and pro writer David Alan Carter put the Web's most popular resume writing services through their paces – comparing writing quality, customer service, pricing and more. See who came out on top...

Reviews of Resume Writers

Let's round up this information into a happy 1 2 3 summary.

  1. If your overall GPA is less than 3.0 do NOT put it on your resume.
  2. If your major GPA is 3.0 or higher, while your overall is less than 3.0, include your major GPA only.
  3. You can include both your overall and your major GPA on your resume if both are 3.0 or higher, and your major GPA is stronger than your overall (say, two to three tenths of a percentage point higher).

Finally, remember that experience trumps GPA. As you progress through your career and the years begin to add up, your GPA – and other educational details – can be gently phased off your resume.

Where we go from here: We could consider the sometimes tricky task (especially for grads) of deciding Which Jobs On The Resume. Or how to write Resume Accomplishments. And if you're wondering which format makes the most effective resume -- chronological or functional -- we can get into the nuts & bolts of the Effective Resume Format.

David Alan Carter is a former recruiter and the founder of Resume One of Cincinnati. For more than ten years, he personally crafted thousands of resumes for satisfied clients from all occupational walks of life.

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