Should you put GPA on resume?

 

GPA, or the grade point average, is a number that indicates your performance in college or university. It shows the average score for all your courses and explains how well you did in your studies. A very high GPA is considered an academic achievement. But does it make sense to include the GPA on your resume?

In this article, we will look at the situations where it is appropriate for a recent graduate to mention an overall grade point average.

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When to put GPA on your resume: The short answer

Always include your GPA if it's high (3.5 or above) and you are applying for internships or entry-level positions. As a recent graduate with under 2 years of experience, you can include a major GPA to convey your ability to learn quickly and perform well in the workplace. Be sure to always include your GPA if hiring managers specifically ask for it.

For candidates with 2+ years of professional experience including an overall GPA is not necessary. Including GPA on your resume is also pointless when it's lower than 3.5.

Now, let's explore the specifics of adding GPA and how it can help you during the hiring process.

What types of GPAs are there?

Your GPA is the number on the scale from 0 to 4. It reflects how well you met the expectations in high school or the degree program, with 4 being the equivalent of an A grade. Yet, there is more than one type of GPA for recent graduates:

  • Cumulative GPA - the average of all grades you've earned during your academic career in high school or university.
  • Major GPA - this GPA is calculated with grades for courses included in your major.
  • Term GPA - the average GPA for grades you earned in a specific term.

When applying for a job or graduate school, students typically need to include their cumulative GPA on a resume. If your major GPA is higher, however, you can include it instead. Some universities will also ask for your test scores and other achievements in your academic career.

What is considered a good GPA? Anything from 3.5 and above is considered a high GPA. For employers who screen job-seekers based on their GPA, 3.0 is the median cutoff. When assessing candidates for entry-level positions, most employers pay attention to grade point average, and the higher is usually the better.

When should you include your GPA on a resume?

As a rule, putting your GPA on a resume is a good idea in the following situations:

You are still in school or recently graduated

A good GPA can increase your chance of landing the first job or internship. When you don't have paid experience, education, and academic achievements are your biggest assets. That's why you should put the Education section at the top of your resume and list GPA and other college achievements in detail.

Although not all employers see GPA as a screening criterion, many of them still pay attention when hiring entry-level employees. 67% of companies reported that they hired employees based on GPA, among other factors. Employers tend to think that the early career candidate with a good GPA is more likely to perform well and handle the pressure in the workplace.

Your GPA is 3.5 or higher

A high GPA is a good achievement, so why not make it work in your favor? Again, some employers see GPA as a predictor of good performance and a strong work ethic. A GPA between 3.5 and 4 is considered very good. When choosing between two candidates with similar education, a hiring manager is more likely to pick someone with a high GPA and other academic accomplishments.

Make sure to add other achievements along with your GPA, such as the Dean's List or membership in an honor society.

GPA is required in a job description

Whether to include a GPA on your resume depends on the job posting, too. If the job requests to specify GPA in job applications, you need to specify it even if it is lower than 3.5. You may find such a requirement in federal job postings. Be sure to add GPA on your resume, as if you don't, the company will probably ditch your application.

When to keep your major GPA out?

Including a GPA on your resume is not advisable in the following situations:

Your GPA is not impressive

There is nothing wrong with having a GPA lower than 3.0. However, if you have a lower GPA, it is best to keep it out even if you graduated recently. A not-so-impressive GPA can actually work against you and lower your chance of getting a job. The employer might assume that your GPA is low because you didn't work hard, or because you lack professional competencies. To avoid making such an impression, keep silent about your GPA.

You graduated over 2 years ago

Once you have one or two full-time jobs, your education loses its importance. From this point on, potential employers will be more interested in your professional experience and achievements rather than your grades in university. After 2-3 years of experience, you can remove your overall GPA from the resume and focus more on your work experience.

However, if you are particularly proud of having a 3.9 or 4.0 GPA or graduated summa cum laude, you can keep these accomplishments a little longer.

It is not relevant to your target job

If your target job is not relevant to your education, you needn't be super detailed about it. Thus, your GPA doesn't add much value and you can remove it to save space for qualifications that are more relevant to your desired career path.

Not sure if you need a GPA on your resume? Ask yourself three questions. Image: Theforage.com

Where to include GPA on your resume?

Place your GPA in the Education section next to the school name and your degree. Here is how it can look like:

University of Massachusetts 05/2023

Bachelor of Arts, Major in Finance

GPA: 3.84

Next to your GPA, you can include other honors, relevant coursework, and even your thesis if it is relevant to your future career.

Should you include an overall GPA or major GPA? As a rule, employers expect to see an overall GPA on your resume. Some students include a major GPA, especially if it is higher and they are pursuing a career relevant to their major.

If your average GPA is not as impressive as your major GPA, you can only include the latter. Otherwise, you can add both, for example, Cumulative GPA: 3.6, Major GPA: 3.7.

What additional academic achievements should you list?

A high GPA isn't the only academic achievement that can set you apart in the job market. Here are the examples of achievements you can feature to impress potential employers:

  • Dean's List with a year when you got this achievement
  • Graduating summa cum laude or magna cum laude
  • Relevant certifications in your field of study
  • Academic honors, such as scholarships, fellowships, or student awards that show your excellent performance
  • Research experience, including participation in research projects or doing independent research
  • Publications in academic journals
  • Study abroad experience - specify the country of designation and the focus of your studies.

Include any of these achievements in your Education section under the school's name. Impressive achievements in college prove that you are the best candidate for the entry-level position of your choice.

So, should you include a GPA on your resume? The answer is Yes if you have limited experience and your academic performance is excellent. Otherwise, you can keep it out harmlessly. Not all employers demand a GPA, so it is okay not to include it if it may lower your interview chances.

How to format your entry-level resume?

After you've formatted your Education section, take the time to review the resume and ensure that it has your information in full. Next, you need to format it according to the expectations of hiring managers. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Use reverse chronological order

When listing your degrees, internships, and jobs, start with the most recent one and go back. This is the common format approved by recruiters, and using it will help you avoid confusion in dates and sequence of jobs. A career expert recommends that you put the Education section above work history if you don't have relevant full-time jobs yet.

Add a short career objective

An informative Objective section is your chance to introduce yourself to employers and briefly outline your qualifications. Write 2-3 sentences and focus on what you can do for the employer and what your long-term career goals are. You can include your key achievements and awards to position yourself as an ambitious entry-level candidate.

Keep it to one page

Experts say that the desirable length of the entry-level resume is one full page. This length is enough to demonstrate your academic success, skills, and potential. If your resume is more than one page, consider removing irrelevant details.

Detail relevant experience

If you've gained relevant experience through internships, volunteering, or part-time jobs, elaborate on it in the Experience section. Add job titles and responsibilities, and mention if you achieved goals set or were praised by your supervisor.

Apply professional formatting

After you include your GPA and add all resume content, format it professionally to ensure a strong first impression:

  • Choose a clean, professional font such as Calibri, Tahoma, or Arial
  • Use the same font type and size throughout your resume - consistency makes your resume easy to read
  • Use bullet points, not paragraphs, to structure your job duties and achievements
  • Set a bigger font for your name and section headings
  • Add some color to highlight key information and make the document visually appealing.

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