New Grads: Should You Include Your GPA in Your Resume?

If you’re a recent entry to the professional, post-college job-seeker market, you probably are still operating on those tried and true resume strategies you used in and after high school.  List out a few personality strengths, throw in a couple of hobbies and make sure you espouse on your class rank or graduation day GPA for good measure.  Your grades, after all, were an excellent measure of schoolroom success, so why shouldn’t they provide the same support after your college days have come and gone?

While that strategy may have worked when applying for that position waiting tables at your local diner, when it comes to landing a career-making position things can get a bit trickier.  As it turns out, your post-college employer may or may not care about that A+ you scored in Psych for Business Majors as much as your other, independently reported, characteristics.  This doesn’t mean, however, that you should throw the baby out with the bathwater and excise your GPA from your professional resume, altogether.  Here we break down the plusses, minuses, whens and hows as pertains to including your GPA in your resume as a recent college grad.

What’s a GPA Afterall

Before we get into when to include such fact and figures we first need to discuss just what exactly goes into determining this mythical acronym.  A GPA, or grade point average, is calculated by assigning a numerical value to the letter grade you receive from each high school or college course.  These values are added up together, divided by the number of courses and poof, a GPA is calculated.

GPA’s tend to be universally accepted measures of scholarly success given the ease of understanding of traditional letter grades.  In a few cases, however, GPA’s can be a bit of a trickier assessments of your academic prowess.  In recent years, some schools have moved away from letter grades, transitioning instead towards evaluations of course work.  If you attended a foreign school, your grades may also not translate well to a GPA.  GPA scales are also set by the individual school which means that your grade may be a great comparison of performance against other graduates of your alma mater but may be based on an entirely other set of criteria than candidates from other schools.

Distance from your College Years

Now that you understand the plusses and minuses of the GPA scale, it’s time to decide whether to include the numeric in your resume.  One of the critical factors for helping the decision along may well be the length of time since graduation.  Recent grads with attractive, high-ranking GPA’s may find that potential employers are attracted by their stellar college performance.  The further you get from those course-taking, frat-pledging, cap-wearing years, however, the less relevant this number may be to a hiring manager reviewing your CV.  As a general rule of thumb, five to seven years post college take a good, hard look at your resume and reassess whether the addition of your GPA remains a relevant judge of your skillset.

Strengths and Experience

If you have the unfortunate circumstance to be graced with a lower GPA, excluding this number from your resume may be entirely acceptable if there’s plenty of other info included to flesh out your skillset.  A large amount of specialized experience, certifications or a proven ability and reputation in your field will often be much more relevant to a recruiter or hiring manager than the grade you earned while obtaining a liberal arts degree ten years prior.  The absence of a GPA in your degree field if you’re brand new on the job market may raise an eyebrow, but load up that doc with plenty of other reasons the employer should consider your candidacy and chances are the omission won’t get even a second look.

The GPA Bottom Line

When it comes to including your GPA on your resume as a recent grad, the bottom line is all about balance.  Put together a draft of your resume and perform a critical analysis of how much substance is actually included when all’s said and done.  The GPA is simply one factor in the hiring equation.  If you have advanced certifications, pre-college skills or other extenuating or attractive features, leaving off a less than amazing GPA won’t hurt your chances with most employers.  If your GPA is stellar, feel free to include it until you’ve put together a few years on the job market.  Continue to evaluate the overall picture your resume paints, GPA included or not, for the best ongoing prospects for landing a job in the field of your dreams.

Article Updated from the Original on October 22, 2017