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One of the things college graduates worry about when it comes to the job search is how much their GPA will matter to prospective employers.

If you’ve worked hard but couldn’t keep your GPA high, will you be passed over for job opportunities? On the flip side, if you struggled through school because you were juggling your life responsibilities, but you passed your classes and graduated, will you be penalized?

The short answer is no. Your GPA will not make or break your career, though there are some exceptions to this rule. Let’s take a closer look at when it matters, when it doesn’t, and how you can sell yourself despite your GPA.

GPA matters more for highly competitive entry-level roles

Here’s the thing. If you’re looking to get into investment banking, law, or engineering, or something equally competitive, your GPA is more likely to matter.

Why? Because your job history will be internships or non-existent when you graduate, sp your GPA is an indicator that you can handle stressful situations and still come out on top.

While this is a slightly old-fashioned way of thinking, it is, unfortunately, one of the few ways that a potential employer can see your drive so early in your career. Putting your GPA on a resume is merely a way for them to see what kind of work ethic you have on paper (though not really a definitive way of doing so).

Still, even in these highly competitive areas, GPA isn’t always a deal-breaker.

What if a potential employer requires my transcripts and GPA?

For some jobs, they might require a more in-depth look at your college grades, GPA, and accomplishments. In this case, definitely include any additional college achievements and get prepared to fight for yourself.

If it took you a while to get into the college groove or you faced certain life circumstances that made it harder for you to keep your GPA up, be prepared to tell that story. Let them know the obstacles you met, how you overcame them, and how things will be different when you secure a job.

What all employers want to know is that you will work hard, stick around, and be passionate about the work you’re doing. And really, it all comes down to the hiring manager. For some, your GPA will matter, and others won’t care at all.

Should I put my GPA on my resume?

If you have a high GPA, it can only help you to put it on your resume. But I’m assuming if you’re reading this, you’ don’t.

In that case, avoid putting your GPA on your resume. Instead, focus on what you accomplished while in college. Did you receive any awards? Get anything published? Assisted in planning events? Participate in community service?

Even better, did you participate in internships while you were in college? If you did, that’s a clear indicator that you can successfully navigate job responsibilities and even means you might have references. That’s a great sign for potential employers.

Anything that took some extra work and effort to achieve should be highlighted on your resume. Even scholarships and additional grants you received (outside of the federal grants) are worth mentioning.

The point of a resume is to show that you’re a hard worker. A low GPA is zero indication that you didn’t work hard, and a smart higher manager will know what other markers to look.

Work on selling yourself, not your GPA

Securing a job is all about selling yourself and learning how to tell your story. If you need help marketing yourself, visit the career counselor at your college, or submit your resume to a recruiting firm in your area. Often times, recruiters will take the time to meet with you, offer suggestions on how to improve your resume, and even guide you through the interview process.

Don’t let fears about your GPA hold you back. And keep this in mind, once you get your first job and work your ass off, your GPA won’t even matter. With job experience under your belt and reliable references, future employers will only care about the job you did in your last position.

We are not affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education. Federal Student Aid (FSA), an office of the U.S. Department of Education, makes the Free
Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form and assistance available to the public for free at fafsa.gov.