Options for New Grads with a Low GPA

If you are graduating soon, you are probably acutely aware of your GPA. But when should you list it on the resume? A few basic rules of thumb can prevent you from committing a resume faux pas.

There are two \”lines\” for GPA. Some organizations and career professionals say that 3.0/4.0 or higher is fine to include on your resume; and others say it needs to be 3.5/4.0. Many top Fortune companies have even higher requirements. So if you feel your GPA falls below these lines, you can use alternate strategies.

First, calculate your major GPA, upper-level GPA, senior GPA, or another form of GPA. These GPAs will not be found on the school’s gradebook, but you can calculate them yourself. If you find these GPAs are higher than your total GPA, you can include them on the resume instead. Simply indicate that they are a specific type of GPA, such as saying “Major GPA.”

Second, if you cannot get your GPA above a 3.0, consider simply leaving the GPA off of the resume. This is a slightly risky strategy – if the employer uses GPA as one of their hiring criteria, they may screen you out automatically if you do not have it listed. However, a low GPA could also cause the employer to throw your resume in the “no” pile. Opting out may get you past the initial resume scan.

But what if the job posting requires you to list your GPA? At that point you will have to make a judgment call. Try talking to others within your field to see how they screen resumes based on GPA. That will give you the best indication of whether you should include it, modify it, or leave it off the resume entirely.

Finally, if GPA is crucial for the position you are applying for, consider addressing your low GPA on the cover letter. Pointing to patterns of academic improvement over time, showcasing the skills you have gained, or the work or internship positions you have had can all mitigate the low listed GPA on your resume.

Do not let a low GPA hold you back from applying for the positions you want. Utilize the above strategies to showcase your college experience in the best light possible.