In speaking with a prospective client – an imminent grad, the topic of GPA came up. He mentioned his was not awful, but knew it probably wasn’t going to get him among the short list of candidates.
Maybe you are in the same boat? Maybe your resume isn’t going to help you get an interview?
If so, use these tips to compete at a high level… even against those 4.0 types:
1. Leave Your GPA off Your Resume
If you’re coming out of school or getting ready to, remember that GPA is an optional resume component. Unless an employer specifically asks for it, leave it off.
Generally, I don’t include them unless they are above 3.5.
2. Put Your Education Section at the Bottom of Your Resume
Many grads learn to do this, because career centers are influenced by the higher ed way of writing resumes. That process places a distinct emphasis on education credentials (Ph.D., anyone?).
But putting education at the top may inspire the employer to ask about your GPA.Why remind them?
If your field of study is not deeply aligned with the job you are going after – and hopefully you have more compelling information to put in that top 30% of your resume – move education to the bottom of the page.
3. Drop the Objective Statement and Write a Brilliant Summary
Your resume is all about what you are going to do for the employer. Most experts agree that new grads write horrible resumes and cover letters in general. So learn to write a great resume and stand out in other ways.
Instead of including an objective statement, write a professional summary that is tailored directly to the employer and shows an understanding of their needs.
Remember that in the initial pass, recruiters and hiring managers spend about 7 seconds reading your resume. So that top 30% of the page, is a chance to grab them with a stellar introduction customized to address the job and their needs – and make them forget all about that annoying GPA issue.
If you’re really stuck on writing a great resume, or cover letter, check out The Resume Coloring Book Online Course, which will teach you to easily write both.
4. Target Organizations That Don’t Care About GPA
Most large companies may care deeply about your GPA, but small and mid sized companies may care far less.
Over 50% of the U.S. population works in organizations with less than 500 employees. Include these companies in your target search.
5. Look for Jobs That Don’t Require a High GPA
A high GPA is not necessarily a guarantee of success.
People smarts, emotional intelligence, and communication all prove to be equally as valuable qualities in a career. Look for jobs where GPA will be less of criteria for success, and soft skills, people skills and self-leadership skills will be.
6. Make your low GPA a competitive advantage.
Remember the “plucky” grad who sent a down and dirty honest letter to Wall Street that went viral?
Ok, well he had a near perfect GPA, but the point is, the letter got attention because it was honest and forthright about how he wasn’t the perfect candidate for the job in other ways. How can you turn a low GPA into a positive, and work that into your messaging?
Talk about what you learned from the experience. How maybe neglecting your focus on GPA gave you other insights. Consider how what you learned can benefit the employer in terms of making you a better candidate. Show some humility and self-awareness of having gone through the process.
7. Know Yourself (and Sell Yourself) in Other Ways
Forbes touted self-awareness as the singular secret for a leader’s success.
Bring this to your job search. Know your strengths, typology, emotional intelligence quotient, and interests. Be able to tell an employer how you will use these powers for their good.
This will help you stand out against the brainiacs who plan to sail through on GPA alone.
8. Master Your Online Reputation
Imagine this. You’re a hiring manager and two resumes come in. One with a great GPA, and one with no GPA listed, but otherwise a qualified candidate.
You decide to check each out online.
One has a fantastically presented LinkedIn profile, a Twitter feed with a respectable number of followers on job related content, and no digital dirt when her name is Googled.
The other candidate has a feeble LinkedIn profile, no presence on other work related social media, and apparently hasn’t figured out privacy settings on Facebook. Not a good image.
If you can’t compete on GPA, which of the above candidates will you be? Make sure your privacy settings, content, tagged images and other social media habits are cleaned up, vetted, and “safe for work.”
9. Create a Great First Impression
You only get one chance to make a first impression, so they say. And it goes a long way. Research shows that factors ranging from clothing to posture to the grip of your handshake play a role in how impressions are formed.
Become a master at winning others over through confidence, compassion, and good impression-making habits.
10. Leave a Great Last Impression
It is SO EASY to stand out from the crowd and be positively memorable!
Send hand written thank you notes right after a meeting. Return phone calls promptly. Have a great phone and email tone. Have your references neatly printed and ready to submit.
For some hiring managers, it may be the thing that swings a decision in your favor, because they’ll be able to see that that’s how you’ll show up in the workplace.
Be professional and complimentary to the people you interview with. Leave everyone you meet with a good impression – even the receptionist or the operator who takes your call. It goes a long way toward affecting how they perceive you, and what they think about you.
11. Become an Expert on Your Target Employers
Research your target employer’s attributes. Learn their vision, mission, values, and goals. Understand their key strategies. Read the latest press. Visit the investor portion of their website if they have one.
Learn about their competitive position in the marketplace. Find employees on LinkedIn and talk to them about the company to get some inside perspective.
There’s nothing more impressive in a resume or interview than a highly informed candidate who is savvy about the organization, and can hold an intelligent conversation about it. GPA alone does not get you that.
Bonus Tip: Master the Art of Networking
A low GPA is a great opportunity to leverage your network and personal relationships to get an entree where your GPA might weed you out.
Do more footwork on identifying your target organizations, and positions, and start building relationships with people in the places that you want to be!
Finally, don’t let the whole GPA thing get into your head.
Sure, it might be a factor… but ultimately your GPA is not a measure of your worth as a human being, or a potential employee!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friend Lea McLeod!
About the Author: Lea McLeod is author of the Resume Coloring Book. Check it out if you are struggling with writing your resume in today’s job market. She’s also founder of the Job Success Lab so that you can GO PRO in any job! Follow her on Twitter and her blog: DegreesofTransition.com.