Your GPA doesn’t matter.
At least, not as much as you may think it does, according to Jose Santos, University Career Services’ assistant director for the liberal arts, who hosted an info session titled, “What are employers looking for? It’s not ALWAYS about the GPA” in Norris’s Arch Room Tuesday at 8 p.m.
“Every time the fall recruitment comes around, the GPA issue always pops up,” Santos said to the audience of six students and alumni attending the event this evening.
Students tend to worry that their GPA is too low or that employers will enforce GPA cut-offs when considering applications. Others complain that they do not hear back about interviews despite having a high enough GPA. A number of other factors, however, significantly affect a student’s chances of landing a job.
“You might have a GPA that’s not so high, but if you have related experience or skills, they will look at you,” Santos said. “It’s about marketing yourself. What matters is how you present that [your skills] to the employer.”
Santos said factors like students’ degree of involvement in campus activities, leadership in those activities and “workability” – in other words, whether students are easy to work with and can “talk and joke” with employers – are all important.
However, one of the most important qualities is GPA progression, which is why employers ask for a transcript, he said.
“They want to see that this student has progressed,” Santos said.
The assistant director said he usually tells his students to leave their GPA off their résumés if it is less than 3.0, but to be ready to explain the omission to employers.
Sometimes students do not even get a chance to apply to certain companies due to GPA requirements and falsify their GPAs to get past the restrictions, which he said is not the correct approach. For students whose GPAs are not high enough, Santos said, information sessions become that much more important for establishing contact with someone within the company.
Santos also addressed additional employment strategies, like utilizing networks, showing concrete and tangible results in students’ activities and saying “thank you” no more than 48 hours after meeting a potential employer.
“Some employers use this [thank you email] to see your ‘career maturity’ since it’s part of relationship-building,” he said.
During the actual search process, Santos also encouraged students to email alumni and references to introduce themselves and to request a meeting to discuss how they got where they are today, as well as to ask for advice for the student’s personal career development. After meeting, students can then request to be informed of any opportunities within that company and send their résumés.
Jason Cerundolo, a Masters student studying mechanical engineering, came to the event to learn more about the job search.
“It was more useful as a networking opportunity to meet with some of the UCS people,” he said. However, he added, the advice Santos gave about how to e-mail contacts cold was “very useful.”