Job seekers often want to know if they should include their grade point average (GPA) on their resume. Should you only include it if it’s higher than 3.0? When should you not include it on your resume?
We’ve put together a short guide on everything you need to know regarding a GPA on a resume.
Should I put my GPA on my resume?
This depends on what your GPA is and how long you're been out of school. Generally, you should only include it if it's above a 3.3 and NOT a 3.0 like many suggest.
When to include your GPA on your resume:
Include your GPA if you're a recent graduate with little to no work experience
Include your GPA if it's higher than 3.3
If the job description states they need your GPA, you should include it
When not to include GPA on a resume:
If you’ve been out of school for more than four years
If you have a couple of years of experience in your field
Many people will tell you to include your GPA if it’s 3.0 or higher. This really isn’t good advice, from an employer's perspective. Here are a few reasons why.
Sometimes there are hundreds of resumes sent for a single opening. That’s a lot of competition with other candidates! With that much competition, you want to come off as excellent, not just “good."
While you should definitely be proud of an overall GPA higher than 3.0, it doesn't scream excellence in a sea of 4.0s. In this case, instead of drawing attention to a good GPA, you’re better off just leaving it off.
You should also avoid listing it if you’ve been out of school for more than four years. You should lead with whatever professional experience you have in this case. If you already have experience in the field, you should also avoid listing your GPA and focus on your experience instead. Your GPA is a measure of your education, but practical experience is almost always more compelling to a hiring manager.
Here is what career expert Alison Green had to say:
" Its value is as a rough stand-in when they don’t yet have real work experience to point to, in order to demonstrate what they might be capable of. And even then, most employers know that it’s an imperfect gauge; lots of people with high GPAs end up doing mediocre work, and lots of people with unimpressive GPAs end up excelling in their careers.” Allison Green, Askamanager.org
This leads us to our next question.
Do employers care about your GPA anyway?
A 2016 study showed that on a scale of 1-5, employers had a score of 3.5 when it comes to a high GPA importance (over 3.0).
Source: Job Outlook 2016, National Association of Colleges and Employers
As you can see from the chart above, your major, leadership experience, and extracurricular activities all influence employers' opinions more than your GPA.
It's also interesting to note that those factors and your GPA are all ranked more important than the school you attended, volunteer work, foreign language competency, and experience studying abroad.
This isn't to say that all of these factors aren't important--when included correctly, all of these experiences can be part of a great resume. However, it helps you to see that your GPA isn't a make-it-or-break-it qualification for the majority of employers.
What if you have a low GPA?
Not all employers care about your grades. You can expect larger companies to care, but startups and small companies don't usually care about your GPA.
Here is a good post on Forbes about whether employers really care about your grades. It's from 2013 when Harvard was reported to be inflating grades, leading to speculation about how much that would actually help students' chances to land prestigious jobs or internships.
Essentially, if you have a low high school or college grade point average, don’t put it on your resume. Focus instead on an internship or past work experience.
If you have none of those, spend your time on crafting a compelling career story to sell your value. Start to create a good resume summary that shows your soft skills, as well as relevant coursework that relates to the position you’re applying for.
having the right combination of skills is key to passing the ATS scans. Learn how in our guide: 10 Vital Skills to Put on Your Resume & Stand Out
Where should you put your GPA on your resume?
If you opt to include your college or high school GPA on your resume, put it in your education section. Here is an example of a GPA on a resume:
This example works well for a current student. It includes an expected graduation date, both a major GPA and a cumulative GPA, as well as details about honors and relevant coursework.
You can also check out our post on including magna, summa and cum laude on a resume.
Here is another example:
This section has fewer details, and is better suited for someone with a couple of years of experience. The GPA is still well over 3.3 but is not likely to be the most compelling information on this resume.
Can I put my major GPA instead of my cumulative?
Yes. As stated above in this post, you are allowed to put your major GPA if it is higher. Doing well in your core classes for your degree is a better measure of your education, especially if you didn't do so well in general classes outside of your major,
If you don’t have a 3.3 GPA or higher, leave it off and don’t sweat it. A few years down the line, it won’t matter at all! Your degree, leadership skills, and work experience will be far more important to future employers.
If you have more questions about writing a cover letter or resume as a recent graduate, check out our related posts below or look at Zipjob's resume writing services. Our professional resume writers can tell you how to make the most of your education to look most impressive to employers during the job search. Check out our three resume writing packages.
The ZipJob team is made up of professional writers located across the USA and Canada with backgrounds in HR, recruiting, career coaching, job placement, and professional writing.