Return to Career Services home page
 

"Should I include my GPA?" and other FAQs

You are here: Career Services > Job & internship search guide > Resume guide > FAQs

 

On this page:

How LONG should my resume be?

Should I include my GPA on my resume?

Should I include my IN-MAJOR GPA? How do I find it out?

What GPA is too low to include?

Should I include two ADDRESSES — home and college — on my resume?

Should I put my SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER on a resume OR an APPLICATION FORM?

What FONT size should I use?

Do I have to put an OBJECTIVE on my resume?

Should I do a VIDEO resume?

What about CREATIVE, non-traditional resumes?

Should I PAY someone to write/revise my resume?


Q: How long should my resume be?

Answer

Q: Should I include my GPA on my resume?

The answer depends on your GPA, the career field you are pursuing, and the other qualifications in your background. There is no one set cut-off number.

In technical fields, employers tend to place high importance on GPA, they want to know it, and they are going to ask for it eventually. That's just a fact of life. In fields in which employers care about GPA, if you leave your GPA off, you risk employers assuming that it is very low. (If you have a 2.7 and leave it off, do you want an employer to guess that you have a 2.1?) In some career fields, GPA is not as important a factor in employers' decisions.

In some fields, a 3.0 may be considered strong; in others, it may be considered less-than-strong. Know your industry. There is a department at Virginia Tech that advises its students to leave off the GPA if it is under 3.4; that is based on expectations in the industry those graduates enter.

For graduate students, there is often an assumption that your undergraduate GPA must have been strong for you to be admitted to graduate school, and once in graduate school, strong academic performance is simply expected.

If you are uncertain about including your GPA, seek Career Services advising for recommendations based on your individual circumstances. (Also see other GPA-related questions below.)

Q: Should I include my in-major GPA? How do I find it out?

By the time you are a junior or senior, you've generally established an in-major GPA. Many students have a higher in-major GPA than overall GPA; if so, that might be helpful to show — it lets the employer know your area of strength.

If you want to work in a career field related to your major, and your in-major GPA is lower than your overall, and is not great, the lower in-major GPA is probably not something you want to advertise.

If your overall GPA is very low and your major GPA is very strong, you could leave off your overall GPA and just include your major GPA. If your overall is moderate and your in-major is high, you might choose to list both.

There is not a magic formula; this is a judgment call. You need to know the standards and expectations in the career field or graduate programs you are pursuing.

Again, if you're unsure about what to include, you're welcome to seek advising from us in Career Services for recommendations based on your circumstances.

If you don't know your in-major GPA:
Go to Hokie Spa (login, of course)
> Degree Menu [yep, we know "Grades Menu" includes "GPA Calculators" but that doesn't provide your in-major GPA. We didn't invent this, we're just trying to help ;-)]
> Select proper degree menu
> Application for Degree [if you've not already done this]
> Degree Audit Report Menu
> Request a Degree Audit Report [DARS] [select "List All Requirements"]
> Open the DARS report, scroll down to In-Major GPA requirement; open that; shows your current in-major GPA and courses included in that calculation.
[note other options and the contact link for the University Registrar if you have questions about your DARS]

Q: What GPA is too low to include on a resume?

There's not one number that's a magic cut-off point — the answer depends on several factors. Students sometimes hear that a GPA under 3.0 should be left off your resume. [There is a major at Virginia Tech in which the faculty have good reason to advise students that a 3.4 GPA or higher is expected. If you're in that major, you'll know it.]
The real answer will depend on several things.
- What are the expectations in your career field and industry?
- Are you seeking work in a career field in which GPA is/isn't important?
- How competitive is the career field you plan to enter?
- What other credentials are in your background?
- Did you work during school to pay for your education?
- Did you hold leadership positions in school or community organizations?
- Do you have experience related to your career goals?
- Did you start out in a difficult major that hurt your GPA and then raise your grades significantly after changing into your current major?

If you are unsure about including your overall GPA, your major GPA, or both, seek advising from us in Career Services; we'll discuss your individual situation.

Q: Should I include two addresses on my resume: home and school?

Answer.

Q: Should I ever include my SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER on my resume OR an APPLICATION FORM?

Short answer: No.

Do not place your SSN on your resume. Identity theft is a concern, and you should carefully guard access to this number.

Scammers could ask for SSN as part of a fake job application.

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: Fact Sheet on Social Security Numbers.

Even an employer with a legitimate need for your SSN (for a background check, for example) should not collect this on an application form.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM): It is not unlawful for employers to request an SSN on an application form; however employers should request SSN only when absolutely necessary, such as in conjunction with a background check, completing a W-4, or enrolling an employee into benefits plans. Therefore the SSN should be collected separately from an application form where it will only be seen and accessed when necessary. An application form may be seen by individuals who do not need the SSN. The SHRM website is for members only; more information on this topic on About.com: Social Security Numbers on Job Applications.

 

Q: What size font should I use?

Answer.

Q: Do I have to put an objective on my resume?

Depends.

Are you sending your resume to one person with a cover letter that explains the purpose of sending your resume?

Will the person who sees your resume know without question what you want to do?

Is your resume for a job, an internship, a grad school application, scholarship, or other?

Will the person who reads your resume guess its purpose? Will s/he guess correctly?

If you're unsure, having an objective statement might be wise.

The real issue is what use you're making of any particular version of your resume, the means by which you are conveying it to a prospective employer (e-mail, mail, online, in person) and whether your objective statement communicates anything meaningful to the employer.

You might need an objective on some versions of your resume, but not others.

Need help after reading? We can help you through advising.

Avoiding the useless, boring objective!:
Final Cut: Words to strike from your resume. Forbes.
Bad objective..."To obtain a position that leverages my skills and experience as well as provides a challenging environment that promotes growth." "Yawn. This is not only boring, it's ineffective (and sounds a little juvenile...)."

Q: Should I do a video resume?

Most advice says no.

Why not?

Quality, need for employers to be consistent in how they consider applicants, time-consuming to view, potential for allegations of bias, and sometimes the job-seeker looks foolish.

If someone says to do this, look at why: Usually they are trying to sell you something!

NACE = National Association of Colleges and Employers; past article, no longer available online: Research shows many employers don't accept video resumes.

Thumbs Down for Video Resumes
Systematic HR

No One Wants to See Your Video Resume .... Really!
Jobs.aol.com

10 things we hate about video resumes (as opposed to video interviews).
Interview Studio.com
(if you get an error message, go to Interview Studio.com home page.)

Job Hunters Seek Winning Edge in Video Resumes (NPR.org)
Cautions job seekers and employers. In 2006 a business wanted to pitch to college students that video resumes were the next big thing. We know that didn't happen!

Q: What about CREATIVE, non-traditional resumes?

Well, maybe, if you're in a creative field, and YOU actually create the creative resume. (Question: If you pay someone to create it, how does that show YOUR creativity? Answer: it doesn't.)

Keep in mind, it's up to you to provide your resume in the format requested or required by the employer. That may or may not allow room for something creative, depending on format, files type, etc. It's possible you could develop a creative-format resume to show and/or send employers, but you might also need a more traditional version for times and situations when that is what the employer needs or requires.

Examples of creative resumes:
Web designer depot.com showcasing design skills — appropriate for designers.
The Whole Orange.com > creative resumes.
Not for copying. Be original.
Remember if you pay someone to do this for you, that says nothing about your creativity (just your wallet).
And remember not all employers want to see/receive these.

Q: Should I pay someone to write/revise my resume?

We're not going to tell you that you can't spend your money. But why do you need to? Your resume needs to be owned by you. You are the best qualified person to make statements about your background, experience and knowledge. You may need to revise your resume a bit for each job to which you apply (do you want to pay someone to do all that?). There is plenty of free advice, and as a student, we in Career Services are your service to advise you. (No, we don't write your resume for you.) If you're paying someone, how do you know you are receiving good advice or quality? (This writer/advisor viewed a resume that a student paid to have developed and it contained typos. Ouch.) If someone else writes your resume and an employer asks you for more detail about something on your resume or what a particular statement means, can you answer those questions well if you didn't write your own resume?

Bottom line is our view is that you don't need to; it won't necessarily save you time; and it may not produce the best result.

 

Related:

Resume guide menu

Common mistakes

Need help after reading? We can help you through a resume review.