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Does my GPA matter when I’m applying for jobs?

Published March 14, 2024| minute read
Hadiya Iqbal

Senior Associate, JPMorgan Chase

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

    If you’ve worked hard in college but couldn’t keep your GPA high, will you be passed over for job opportunities? Will you be penalized if you struggled through school because you were juggling other life responsibilities, though still passed your classes and graduated?

    The short answer is maybe, and only in the short term. Your GPA will certainly not make or break your career, although it can impact your job search in your first years out of college, especially when it comes to securing your very first job. Let’s take a closer look at when your GPA matters during your job search, when it doesn’t, and how you can sell yourself despite a not-so-great GPA.

    GPA only really matters for entry-level roles

    For the most part, your job history will consist of internships, summer jobs, or be non-existent when you graduate from college, so some employers will use your GPA as a metric to assess your candidacy for entry-level roles. That being said, your GPA is rarely a dealbreaker, and it’s unlikely to follow you for very long. Once you start to build up a work history, your GPA will quickly start to not matter very much, as employers tend to value work experience above all else when assessing job applicants.

    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, submit your resume to a recruiting firm in your area, or reach out to mentors with knowledge of the professional field you want to enter to gather feedback. Feedback can be helpful when it comes to building your resume to sell yourself best, and to develop your personal story and brand for job interviews.

    Don’t let fears about your GPA hold you back as you work on preparing yourself to apply to jobs, either. Always remember that once you get your first job and demonstrate your talents professionally, your GPA will stop mattering so much. With just a little bit of job experience under your belt and reliable references, future employers will likely be much more focused on your resume than your GPA.

    Common FAQs about job hunting and your GPA

    What if a potential employer requires my transcript and GPA?

    Some jobs require an in-depth look at your college grades, GPA, and accomplishments. 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 along with supplying your GPA and transcript. Let employers know the obstacles you met, how you overcame them, and how things will be different when you secure a job.

    Most employers want to know that you’ll work hard, think creatively, and be passionate about your work. And it all comes down to the hiring manager. For some, your GPA will matter, and others won’t care at all (even if their company requires them to ask for your GPA as a part of the application process).

    Should I proactively put my GPA on my resume?

    If you have a high GPA, it can only help you to put it on your resume in the early years out of college.

    If you aren’t happy with your GPA, it might be best to avoid putting it on your resume. Instead, focus on what you accomplished while in college. Did you receive any awards? Get anything published? Assist in planning events? Participate in community service?

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

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

    Final thoughts

    While it might feel stressful to enter the job market for the first time if you aren’t happy with your college GPA, remember that employers are looking for a range of indicators as to whether you'll be the right fit for a job.