GPA

I'm Graduating From College With A Low GPA. How Can I Get A Good Job?

iStockPhoto.com |  inarik

iStockPhoto.com | inarik

 

You're about to graduate from college and join the workforce – congratulations!

Unfortunately, your overall grade point average is less than stellar. And this could hurt you in your job hunt as employers compare you to other recent graduates who performed substantially better academically.

How do you mitigate a low GPA, and still look great on a resume or in an interview? Here are 6 strategies you can use to beat the low grade blues.

  1. Analyze the numbers behind the GPA to identify positive patterns. I personally started college quite poorly, garnering low grades my first and second years. I got my act together my Junior and Senior years, earning a substantially higher grade point average during that period;  I was able to calculate a cumulative GPA for that period of time reflecting both solid academic performance and substantial improvement. I included both GPAs on my resume, side-by-side. You can also slice-and-dice your GPA by major, minor, business classes, and so forth to identify potential strengths.
     
  2. If you took difficult classes, spell these out on your resume. A curriculum heavy in hard sciences (i.e., organic chemistry or molecular biology) can be especially brutal on a GPA. Recruiters and interviewers are usually aware of this, and may be willing to cut you a bit of slack (or empathy). Create a section directly under your degree detailing "Notable Coursework" to detail these difficult classes.
     
  3. Get some professional experience. An internship or a part time/summer job providing real-world work can effectively mitigate a bad GPA. By getting real world experience, you validate that you are in fact employable, and you hopefully learned some valuable technical or business skills in the process to highlight on your resume and in interviews. Hiring managers like to see transferable work experience, as it reduces the learning curve and risk. Plus, you gather professional references who can speak to potential employers about your value and work ethic.
     
  4. Volunteer with a nonprofit organization. Not only does this provide many of the same benefits of professional experience as listed above, volunteerism also demonstrates an inclination toward making the world a better place. And yes, you can add volunteer work to a resume.
     
  5. Identify and address external factors which played a role in bringing your GPA down. Perhaps, while taking a full class load, you had to manage the family business. Or maybe you were a single parent. Or you had to serve as primary caretaker for your mother who was fighting terminal cancer. Or you had to earn and pay your own tuition. Life happens. You can provide important context on factors such as these to an employer in your cover letter or in an interview.
     
  6. If you were simply a lousy student, admit it. When an employer asks about your GPA, don't equivocate, don't avoid the topic, and don't get defensive. Own it. Explain that you were not a great student, you didn't put in the effort needed to get the good grades, and were fortunate to learn better study skills a bit too late in your college career. Then you can move on to the next topic, and highlight everything you did right.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.

I Was A Lousy Student. Can I Get A Good Job With A Bad GPA?

iStockphoto.com ( Rawpixel )

iStockphoto.com (Rawpixel)

 

Recently finished college with a less than optimal grade point average? Concerned about your job prospects?

Don't panic. While it's true the class valedictorian will have a relatively easy job hunt, even graduates with GPAs on the lower end of the scale can have bright career prospects if they approach the situation strategically. Here are strategies to help you stand out and improve your chances of snagging a desirable career opportunity.

  • Embrace the fact that your degree has value. Even a medical school student who graduated at the bottom of his class earned the privilege of being called "Doctor;" the operative word here is "graduated." The university firmly believed you met the standards required for your degree, and that matters to employers.
     
  • Detail important life factors. Did you work your way through school as a single parent? Perhaps you funded 100% of your degree by cleaning dishes in the dining hall. Maybe you went back to school after a distinguished career, while managing substantial life responsibilities.  Explaining unique and challenging circumstances to a hiring manager can re-frame your college career in a positive light.
     
  • Showcase your applied experience. It's essential to clearly demonstrate your capabilities in both your resume and interviews. For example, if you're looking for a position as a computer programmer, detail how you've developed applications in class projects,  internships, or other initiatives which clearly show your applied mastery of the programming languages. If you still lack experience, work on independent projects independently to develop a portfolio of work.
     
  • Slice and dice your GPA to showcase your academic performance and capabilities. Was your grade point average higher in your major than in non-core classes? Perhaps your academic career started off poorly, but improved substantially over time. Or maybe you excelled in a subject relevant to the positions to which you're applying. Here are some examples:
    • GPA: 2.8 (3.7 Last Two Years)
    • MAJOR GPA: 3.6 (2.5 Overall)
    • GPA 2.8 (3.9 in Engineering Classes)
       
  • Highlight specialized or challenging coursework. Specific classes you've taken can open doors with hiring managers. If you're applying for a entry-level journalism position with a leading medical journal and you've taken a class on Healthcare Reporting, it should feature prominently on your resume. Likewise, be prepared to speak during the interview to demonstrate a strong understanding of industry-specific issues.
     
  • Show off relevant non-academic experience on your resume. The key here is to list activities which might impress an employer. Being elected Student Class President certainly qualifies, as does playing Quarterback on the football team. Maybe you were a business student and chaired the Marketing Club, or competed in the Robotics Club as an engineering major. The possibilities are vast, so long as what you demonstrate career relevance, applied leadership, or some other unique facet of your skills and personality.
     
  • Remember – your first job probably won't be your last. No matter how good or bad your first job out of college is, you'll be given the opportunity to build your skill set, establish a work history, and get a few professional wins under your belt. With time, the importance of your GPA will fade, and future employers will place greater (if not total) emphasis on your experience and skills.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.