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My academic career had a few rough starts before I got into the right program and figured my life out. I started out in the wrong major and was struggling with some mental health issues which are now well-managed. My grades were really bad before I got on track, but once I got things figured out and started on my current degree I did much better.

My overall GPA is a 2.31, which I'd definitely leave off my resume. However, if you only look at classes which apply to my current degree, my GPA is a 3.68. My official transcript doesn't differentiate between the two, but my school's academic tracking system does.

Is it acceptable to put the higher GPA on my resume and/or job applications? Should I mark it differently than just "GPA" (e.g. "degree GPA" or "program GPA")? Am I better off just leaving the GPA off entirely? If asked about it, I'd be happy to talk about my experience in an interview, and I don't see this being a problem for finding a job. After all, I did very well in classes related to the career I'm pursuing. However, I don't want to be seen as deceptive or violate norms and conventions with resumes.

EDIT: Part of this question that I should call out with further emphasis: At least a few job applications I've filled out so far have asked for my GPA, and in at least one case that was a mandatory field I couldn't leave blank. So even if I decide not to put it on a resume, I still need to know if it's okay to use the 3.68 number on a job application.

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    "After all, I did very well in classes related to the career I'm pursuing." Please tell us the degree and the career. If it's Computer Science for instance and you're becoming a programmer, I would absolutely put it down. Jun 1, 2023 at 2:22
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    Do you actually need to list your GPA? Does anyone really care? Do you think it will have a positive influence on your hireability?
    – joeqwerty
    Jun 1, 2023 at 3:11
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    Relevant: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/123856/…
    – TarHalda
    Jun 1, 2023 at 12:34
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    With respect to the clarification: a job application that requests your GPA is undoubtedly asking for your overall GPA, unless they clearly specify otherwise. Are you asking about the wisdom of lying on your job applications? Jun 1, 2023 at 15:29
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    He having changed field, with high grades across the board after that change , is not unusual and probably not a problem. If your grades in classes not on that track stay low, I'd worry a bit about your patience with work that doesn't excite you -- and every job includes at least some work that won't excite you. "A professional is someone who tries to do their best work even when they don't feel like it."
    – keshlam
    Jun 1, 2023 at 17:42

6 Answers 6

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Resist the temptation to over-share.

In my experience CVs or resumes are for the most part a piece of meaningless red tape that job seekers are forced to do.

So many times I have been asked my linkedin profile when it is the literal first thing on my CV. If the recruiter does not read the first thing on my CV I get the distinct impression he is not reading any of it, but hey it is the dance we all have to do. Gainful employment is still worth a bit of a dance.

Back to the point, brevity is the concept that is the holiest of holy when it comes to CV writing. I'm sure if there is anything lacking or ambiguous in the CV the recruiter can ask you about during the interview but anything even just ever so slightly of a hassle in regards to the CV is just bound to get it tossed.

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    @Dacromir - You put your actual GPA. If your not selected because of your GPA, it’s not worth worrying about, plenty of companies realize your GPA is meaningless once in the field.
    – Donald
    Jun 1, 2023 at 9:40
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    @Dacromir And lying about it isn't going to help you. It is a piece of information that is easily verified and you WILL be fired for it.
    – Nelson
    Jun 1, 2023 at 12:59
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    While I agree with your point, I feel there's a substantial difference between a resumé (short) and a CV (longer). My CV includes a patent, a list of publications, and professional service. Jun 1, 2023 at 14:59
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    To give an example of recruiters and employers not reading what I consider to be important info - I've been software dev'ing for 13 years and made a few what I consider to be cool personal applications worth digging around. I put these at the top of my resume. In my years of interviewing I've been asked about one of those personal projects a single time - and I've job hopped more than most.
    – aaaaaa
    Jun 1, 2023 at 17:26
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    @BenHocking: Note that in many places outside the US (certainly the UK, I'm guessing SA too) the word "resumé" isn't used, and "CV" is what's used instead.
    – psmears
    Jun 2, 2023 at 15:57
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Your GPA isn't required to be on your resume, unless that is considered a normal thing to do in your country or discipline.

Using the term "degree GPA" or "program GPA" will immediately make the person reading it ask, what about the rest of your classes? If they are talking to you at the time they might ask you about your GPA when all your classes are counted. They might ask what happened in those early years. Your choice of words almost required them to ask. Of course if they are reading it before they are setting up the interview, they might just turn the page and go onto the next resume.

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I'd leave it off. It's too complicated. Terms like "degree GPA" or "program GPA" are not well known standards so it's just going to confuse the reader. You don't want to appear as "trying to hide" something.

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You'd be well within your rights to include it on your CV. It's your CV and you could include your personal keepy uppy record if you wanted to.

That being said, I wouldn't.

Nobody cares and appearing to think like people do will either come across as you being extremely naive or braggadocious.

Secondly, you open yourself up to being potentially ruled out if you find the one hiring manager who does care and he's not happy that you don't have a 4.0.

TLDR: There's no real upside and some very possible downsides

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If you can simply not list your GPA at all, that's probably your best option, for reasons already covered in other answers.

However, if you're required to list a GPA, then, as I recommended on this related question, you should either list the overall GPA or else qualify it to what you're referring to (e.g. "in-major GPA" if you're only listing the in-major classes or maybe "in-program" GPA if using the one you describe as including only the classes required for your degree.) Listing a GPA that is not the overall GPA without further qualification will be (correctly) viewed as deceptive.

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Leave off, for two reasons.

A degree is only meaningful in that the awarding institution is accepted as having a certain standing, either on its overall merit or because a particular course is accredited by a relevant professional institution. As such, the more detail you try to inject e.g. by making a fine distinction between an upper or lower second degree (2:1 vs 2:2) the more it depends on internal policy which will vary a great deal between universities: or even between faculties and departments in a university.

In addition to that, if you quote your better GPA without quoting the parts you're less happy about then you are very close indeed to making a fraudulent application. Be discovered doing that and you will regret it: you either won't get the job, or an unscrupulous employer will use it as an excuse to change your terms of employment (i.e. reduce salary etc.).

So, a maths degree from Cambridge, an electronics degree from MIT, or a computer science degree from Stanford will be respected because of the merit of the relevant department. Everything else is down to your mastery of the subject, and whether you can convince a potential employer that you can be an effective member of their team.

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