By Christy Walker, UCS Assistant Director
Ok, so your GPA is less than a 3.0. But don’t assume that a lower GPA can completely lock you out of the job market. There are things that can be done to highlight your skills, and if done correctly, you can often outshine a student with a higher GPA. Here are a few things you can do to make yourself marketable if you have below a 3.0.
Show Off Your Major GPA – Your overall GPA may be less than a 3.0, but if the GPA in your major is above a 3.0, this can be a great selling point to employers, especially if you are looking for a job in your field. Be sure to highlight this on your resume if applicable. If you are a “late bloomer” - meaning one whose GPA improved later in their academic career, feel free to highlight that on your resume as well i.e “Dean’s list – last 2 semesters”, or “3.2 overall GPA for last 3 semesters”.
Get Involved – Yes, employers like to see that a student is well rounded. However, they can spot a resume of “club joiners” a mile away. Instead of joining organizations on campus just to pad your resume, pick 1 or 2 that you are really passionate about, and get involved in leadership positions in these organizations.. If you work 25 or more hours a week, or if you are responsible for paying your tuition, make sure to highlight that on the resume as well as that can explain gaps you may have in other areas.
Network – It is even more important for a student with under a 3.0 to use all the networks they can to find a job. Feel free to ask your family members and friends if they know of any open positions. It’s the smart thing to do, especially in this economy. Another good resource for networking is UNC’s Alumni Advisor Network, which is a database of UNC alumni who volunteer to help out their fellow Tarheels. You can search the database by location or by career, and it will give you a list of alumni that you can contact about possible job openings. Also, you can use social media such as LinkedIn to your advantage - there are groups to join on LinkedIn that are specifically used to post job openings in a certain area.
Learn How to Interview – I have to be honest – you may get the “Explain why you have less than a 3.0 GPA” question in an interview – so it’s best to be ready for it. I do NOT recommend lying, but there is an art to answering this question. If you partied too much your freshman year – tell the truth. However, you will want to answer the question with a positive spin and tell what you have done to rectify the low GPA. i.e. “The reason why I have a 2.6 overall GPA is because my freshman year, I didn’t know quite how to manage my time, and I was enjoying my social life a little too much. However, for the past 3 semesters, I’ve managed my time better, earned a 3.0 in my major classes, and I have utilized our Peer Tutoring services on campus”.
Sometimes “life happens” and students have personal issues that might get in the way of earning a high GPA. Use your own judgment on what you would like to indulge or keep to yourself in interviews. Feel free to talk with any counselor at UCS to discuss resume writing and interview strategies if you have any questions to what an employer might bring up. Having less than a 3.0 GPA might seem like a disadvantage, but with the right amount of preparation (resume reviews, mock interviews, etc), you will be able to market yourself well to employers.