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Making the Grade Print
Written by Abby Kohut   

When you're positioning a whoopee cushion on your English teacher's chair or passing notes to your best friend in Philosophy, you typically aren't thinking about how your grades are going to affect you when you get to the real world. In reality, grades do matter in a variety of situations. Does that mean that you have a hurdle to overcome if you were the class clown? Sometimes yes and sometimes no.

As you may have guessed, the importance of your grades to your professional success depends on several factors.

If you are an entry level candidate, grades do matter. It's that simple. After all, grades are the only way for us to truly evaluate you at this stage. Once you have five or more years of experience under your belt, grades are barely a topic of conversation.

Specific industries evaluate candidates' grades more than others. In investment banking for example, a low GPA is a ticket to the exit row whereas in sales or customer service, recruiters are much less concerned.

As for the answer to the question about whether to include your GPA on your resume, it really depends on your success. If you graduated cum laude or phi beta kappa or if you were elected into the honor society, those achievements should be permanent fixtures on your resume. Success never becomes obsolete. The same goes for a 4.0 GPA. If you are that good, do not be afraid to tell the world.

So what if you were the class clown or the note passer or what if multiple choice tests and essays just weren't your thing? It's simple. Accept who you are and be able to explain it IF it comes up during an interview. In most cases it won't, unless you just graduated.

A low GPA can be due to a variety of factors. Perhaps you had to work 40 hours a week to pay for your tuition. Perhaps you were the leader of a variety of different school clubs which took lots of time. Perhaps you have a learning disability that wasn't identified early enough to help you excel. Perhaps you just weren't ready to apply yourself. Whatever it is, be ready to explain the reason, what you learned from the experience, and how you have risen beyond it to be a stellar performer regardless.

Absolutely Abby’s Advice:
If you were a superstar student, do not be afraid to relish in your success during an interview and/or on paper. If not, being able to explain to an interviewer why your grades are not a good indicator of your performance will be paramount to your success.
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Drawn from my 18 years of experience and research in recruiting and Human Resources, my blog posts are intended to provide insight into what corporate recruiters and Human Resource professionals look for when they are evaluating your qualifications. Simply reading these blogs will not guarantee you success. However, consistently applying the strategies mentioned, as well as developing your own personal interview style, will greatly enhance your chances of victory amidst the competition. I wish you the best of luck with your search as you begin to take charge of your career!