The importance of college GPA in finding a job

Be proud to display your high GPA on your resume when job searching.

Be proud to display your high GPA on your resume when job searching.

Academics is one important part of student success in college and student advantage when looking for a job after graduation. When you graduate, your college transcript plays an important role in getting the job of your choice and your desired salary. But many say GPA is not the only consideration, citing job experience and internships as also important. 

GPA matters more than you think

A common misconception is that once you pass the grueling admissions process and finally get into a prominent or prestigious college or university, you can have your pick of jobs after you graduate, no matter what your grades are. Don’t count on it. Many employers want to see your GPA on your résumé, and they use GPA to screen out low achievers. If your GPA is 3.3 or over, it is to your advantage to include it on your résumé. It is also advantageous to include cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa memberships. And don’t lie or stretch the truth—employers will obtain a copy of your college transcript to back up your résumé.

The careers that care the most about your college GPA are investment banking, professional services and the pharmaceutical industry, according to Trudy Steinfeld, head of career services at New York University. Other companies that consult transcripts and grades are large manufacturing companies and engineering and law firms. Those that do not consider GPA as important include smaller companies and liberal studies.

When to include GPA on a résumé

“A decent GPA matters mainly because it shows the candidate is a hard worker,” said Ben Lou, equities managing director for the Getty Trust in Los Angeles. “A solid GPA shows that the person is diligent. …But it is only important if they are a recent college grad,” reported Melanie Gaball in “Importance of GPA differs with careers,” posted March 6, 2013 in the Daily Sundial paper of California State University in Northridge. Lou said that the applicant’s GPA didn’t need to be perfect, but anything under a 3.3 would not be competitive.

When GPA doesn’t matter

Many companies believe that a good GPA just means the student knows how to take tests, and the real concern is if the student can do the job well. Many tests in college are multiple choice, which tells a prospective employer nothing. Rather than having employees who know how to memorize facts, employers want workers who can solve problems. This is why internships, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs and job experience are also important when seeking a full-time job.

In the book “A Manager’s Guide to Hiring the Best Person for Every Job” found on, author Deanne Rosenberg writes: “The untrained interviewer will ask every recent graduate, ‘What was your grade point average?’ The belief is that the brightest students will make the best employees. … [However,] by tracking the success rates of their recent hires, many companies have discovered that the achievements on the job of these exceptional candidates were no better or worse than those of other less exceptionally equipped candidates.” GPA and success on the job have zero correlation, said Rosenberg. Employers have no guarantee that a candidate with a 4.0 GPA from MIT will be a better worker than a 3.0 from a state college.

What if my grades are bad?

If there are legitimate extenuating circumstances that your four-year GPA is less than stellar, you can explain to them in your cover letter and/or in an interview. Here are situations that can mitigate bad grades:

• You worked to put yourself through school

• Your bad grades were in the classes not related to your major

• Extended illness

• Leave of absence, such as military service

• You proved yourself in a successful internship

In the article “Do Employers Really Care About Your College Grades?” by Susan Adams, posted December 6, 2013 in Forbes, Dan Black, the director of recruiting for Ernst & Young gave this advice: “Even a student with a 2.1 could get a job at Ernst & Young if he had a good reason for his lagging grades, like being called up for military service in the middle of a semester. … A student with a 3.2 could beat out an applicant with a 3.9 if the student with the lower grades were working 30 hours a week to put himself through school…. I’m always looking for people who can juggle multiple responsibilities,” said Black.

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Are you worried your GPA will keep you from finding a good job? Share any concerns you may have in the comments below.

1 reply
  1. Saif says:

    Grades have their place. They are indeed a necessary part of education. what they really aren’t a necessary part of, is self-esteem. They don’t really matter because they don’t define us: what defines us is the changes education makes within us. So maybe I got a B or a C in a particular course, but am I better overall for having taken that course?? well, if the answer is yes then that is what makes education worthwhile regardless of what grade you get.


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