While you were working your way through school, you heard the same message repeated over and over by distant, pedantic adult voices: Grades matter. Study hard. Think of your future. And so on.
Maybe you tried to follow this advice but weren't sure how. Or maybe you wiled away the summer of your life like a cheerful grasshopper, certain that someday you'd have a chance to make up for lost time. But whatever you were doing while you were in school, and no matter how hard you did or didn't work to earn high grades, your grade point average is now written in stone. And unfortunately, it isn't your strongest selling feature.
So what's next? What can you do to keep your mediocre GPA from holding back the rest of your career? Here are a few tips that can help you mitigate the damage and move forward.
Advice for Current Students
If you're still tackling coursework in college or grad school, know that it's never too late to turn your study habits around. Most of the time, when students struggle, it's not merely a lack of will power that holds them back. Often, they quite literally don't know how to study. If you're serious about raising your grades and you feel that will power is your only answer, think again. Enroll in a study skills course, or actively find a mentor or tutor and ask for general help. You may be surprised by the advice you receive.
Advice for Graduates
The first time an employer or recruiter actually chuckles right in your face and hands your resume back to you after seeing your GPA, the true weight of your predicament may come into focus. But don't panic. Instead:
- Be ready to calmly move past your GPA and have an intelligent discussion about the actual things you've learned while engaged in your coursework. Potential employers and professional contacts in your network would rather talk about this anyway. Turn the conversation to the state of this field and the issues that are currently affecting companies, customers, and employees. After all, these are things your gatekeepers actually spend their days thinking about.
- Show curiosity. Poor grades are easier to ignore if you clearly show a passion for the work at hand. When you have a lackluster GPA, employers will expect to see a checked out, listless demeanor when they meet you in person. If you fulfill this expectation, you'll increase the distance between where you are and where you'd like to be. Take charge of your personal destiny, starting now. Check in, sit up straight, ask questions, and remember the answers you're given.
- Focus on your other, stronger qualities. So you're not a great student. But you may be a great salesperson, a detail-oriented data analyst, a hard worker, a cool-headed logician, a broad-minded philosopher, a talented artist, or a skilled client schmoozer. Bring these things to the foreground. Likewise, bury your GPA farther down on your resume and highlight your more impressive skills towards the top.
- Don't settle. Too often, a low GPA leads to a sense of defeat that can damage an employee's confidence for years to come. Don't let this happen. Remember that within about three years, you'll no longer have any good reason to include your GPA on your resume and very few people will ask you about it. Give those three years everything you have. Make them count. Then put them in the past for good.
Put Your Resume to Work for You
A professional, articulate resume can also work wonders when it comes to helping employers see past a low GPA. Visit MyPerfectResume and use our resume builder to create a resume that highlights your best features. With a little formatting and writing help, employers will see you as the brilliant candidate you really are!