While I was in my third year at an esteemed business school, I came across a poster calling out for internship applications at the Colgate Palmolive organisation. The very first of the internship screening criteria was GPA 3.0 and above and I cursed myself for my GPA, dangerously hovering over the 2.5 mark, for not even getting the chance to apply for the internship.
But the truth is GPA is just a number. It matters just as much as your personal cell number or your home address. That is, it means almost nothing. Provided you have other substantial performances and records, no employer cares too much whether you have a 2.4 or 4.0 on your resume.
In fact, after a few professional experiences, you may even omit it from resume and no one is going to even ask for it! Just kidding. The point is to tell you that given the GPA and your professional experiences, employers will more likely be focusing on your practical work rather than the 4.0 GPA you got by cramming.
So how to land a job with a low GPA?
Present it in a Positive Light
Tell the employers your focus was always on understanding the curriculum rather than rote-learning it. Highlight some of your practical course work during the university, reiterating the fact that you took away more from the course than just grades.
Highlight Grades in Your Majors
Was marketing your major and low GPA a result of your finance courses? Highlight any distinction marks that you got in your majors, during your interview or on your resume.
Having contacts before you step out in the professional world doesn’t hurt. Many people land jobs through referrals or even through unadvertised jobs. Start applying to organisations of your interest even if they haven’t posted about any job. Get the word out that you are seeking a job through your family, friends and your professors. Networking really helps!
Gather Professional Experience
Your interviewer, whether it is your first job or the third, will ask you more about the professional experiences rather than about your low GPA. If low GPA would have been such a major concern, they obviously wouldn’t be calling you in for the interview. Gain professional experience through meaningful internships, part-time jobs, extra-curricular or voluntary research work with your professors at university. Show potential employers you are more than just a number.
Be Strategic In Job Hunting
Simply put, there are some organisations that have a GPA cap in place to screen hundreds of individuals and there are some who look for individuals who jump out of the page, regardless of their GPA. Focus your energies on organisations that place more emphasis on job entry tests, assessment centre and your extra curricular activities rather than on screening through GPA.
If you believe a low GPA might hinder your chance of landing an interview call, you could omit it. A workplace expert, Lindsey Pollak says that since you are not required to list GPA on your resume, do not list it unless you have 3.0 or higher.
So, in a nutshell, you really do not need to lose sleep over getting a low GPA. Many times, in the professional world, GPA is used only to screen out the candidates. But to shine out among all the others, you need to have the ability to deliver the results, which is what employers are looking for.