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How to Explain a Low GPA

explain low gpaSo you are graduating college soon or looking for an internship and you are worried about writing your resume if you have a low GPA. Take heart. You are not the only  person who has struggled with GPA issues and you won’t be the last.

The fact is, your GPA is one of those little facts that employers and others will use to determine your skill level, work ethics or your ability to learn new things. So, bottom line is that it matters.

You earn your GPA; it doesn’t happen to you!

There is a lot of debate about the differences between an “average” GPA from a really “hard” school versus a “great” GPA from an “easier” school. None of that debate matters for the purpose of my arguments here. Ultimately, your GPA, regardless of where you earn it, says a lot about you. Notice I said “earn”, because that is indeed the case.  Your GPA doesn’t just happen to you.  You earn it!

General rule of thumb when you are writing a resume is that you include your GPA on your resume if you have a 2.75 or higher.

I actually believe it is ok to include your GPA on your resume, no matter what it is, UNLESS the employer specifies a minimum GPA requirement. Why?

Put yourself in the shoes of the potential employer. What if you were the hiring manager and saw a resume with a “low” (under 2.75) GPA; What are some of the assumptions you might make about the person?

You could be thinking that the student is lazy, has poor work ethic or did not have good grasp of the subject matter. All of which may be true.

However, in my years of experience working with college students, especially our HBCU students, I know that this is not the case in the overwhelming majority of situations.

Explain a low GPA

Now, again consider that you are the hiring manager and looking at a resume, but in addition to seeing a low GPA, you also see that the student:

– changed majors
– had a gap in education and came back to school
– is finishing college in 3 ½ years
– works full time and during breaks
– has great professional experience through part-time jobs or internships
– has a double major

Would all that make a difference? As a hiring manager, I can tell you that “Yes” it would make a difference.

Bottom line is that students need to own their GPA’s – regardless of what it is.

Is the job search easier if it the GPA is higher? In many cases it is.

Do you have fewer choices for jobs and internships if your GPA is below what the employer considers appropriate? Yes.

However, the real key is knowing how to speak to the potential employer about that GPA and be willing to put in all the additional work to have a good overall job search strategy.

If you are just coming up with the explanation for a low GPA in the job interview – it may be too late.

Visit your HBCU career center if you need help finding the right way to dispel employer’s negative perceptions about you or if you want to learn about how develop skills and behaviors employers want.

If you are not a graduating senior you should be doing everything you can to improve your GPA or creating the scenario where a hiring manager will put your GPA in context along with everything else you have to offer.

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Consider Headhunters and Employment Agencies

headhunters and employment agenciesHeadhunters and employment agencies are valid options for job seekers.

If you are looking for a new career in this economy, headhunters and employment agencies help job seekers get into companies they admire and sometimes can get resumes past application tracking systems.

As with everything else, proceed with caution and do your research and due diligence since some recruiters and headhunters do charge up-front fees. You do not want this to be a surprise to you.

To help with your research, TheLadders.com has a list of 10 Questions To Ask Headhunters to see if they are a good fit to help you find what you are looking for.

Three ways to connect with headhunters and employment agencies:

1. Use social networking sites like LinkedIn or Twitter. Keep in mind that recruiters and headhunters are looking for professionals so keep your online persona positive. When you first reach out to the recruiter, don’t just ask for a job.  Ask about their services? what they do? How they can help? Ask for insight on the industry and the job?  Headhunters and employment agencies have recruiters who are super busy people so schedule appointments and be respectful of their time.

2. Ask the professionals in your college career center.  Too many college students and alumni forget about the resources on their college campuses to connect with headhunters and recruiters.  Career center staff can give you recommendations since some centers actually allow some recruiters and staffing firms to participate in college job fairs.

3. Connect with recruiters and headhunters through professional association memberships. No matter what industry you are interested in, there are professional associations affiliated with your industry.  Many recruiters and headhunters stay connected with professional associations and meet their potential candidates that way.

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Consider Military Officer Careers After College

Are you graduating from college next spring and considering your career options? You might want to consider military officer careers.  If you haven’t thought about that, there is still time to explore those.

Military officer careers offer unparalleled leadership development and long term career satisfaction.

Visit your career center to find out more about when officer recruiters might be coming to campus.

So you want to be an Army Officer? – 800.USA.ARMY
US Marines Officer Candidate School – 800.MARINES
Navy Officer Candidate School – 800.USA.NAVY
Air Force Officer Training – 800.423.USAF
Coast Guard Officer – 800.424.8883
Army National Guard – 800.TO.GO.ANG
Air National Guard – 800.GO.GUARD

Two additional resources:
Military Spot

Read an article from Denise Witmer called Five Reasons Your Young Adult Should Consider the Military

If you don’t have time to read the entire article here are the major advantages the author identifies as advantages of a military career.

1. Maturity, Focus, Pride
2. Education Benefits
3. On-the-job Training
4. Lifetime career
5. Veteran’s Benefits

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8 Steps to Land the Perfect Internship

The economy is pretty much booming right now with the unemployment rate close to 5%.perfect internship Although that’s a good indication that there is an internship with your name on it, you won’t get it if you don’t stay “woke” (that means “aware” like my students say often).

Whether or not the internship was paid or unpaid, 75% of the 2015 grads agreed that they were satisfied with their internship experiences (Source naceweb.org). One way to improve your chances of being satisfied with your internship, is to try and land that dream, perfect internship early.

Since fall is the big recruiting period for summer internships, you should know that many deadlines have already passed for competitive internships.

Here are some tips as you try to land that perfect internship experience.

1. Use all available resources. Take advantage of the career counselors and coaches in the career center at your college or university.

2. Talk to your network of friends, fellow Greek life associates, faculty, staff and family.  Ask upperclassmen about internships they completed. They may be able to make a recommendation for you.

3. Pump up your professional job seeking skills. Take your internship search seriously. It is just as if you are looking for a full-time job.

4. Watch that sloppy, social media speak in your correspondence. Too many college students are using texting and social media language in formal job search documents.

5. Check your voice mail message and ask yourself if that message would make a potential employer want to call you back.

6. Do your research and show your interest in the company by targeting your resume and your cover letter to the company and the position.

7. Get job interview help!  Please find your campus career center, do a mock interview to practice your interview skills and get feedback.

8. Clean up your social media profile as soon as possible.  Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ are all places that recruiters are using to evaluate applicants.

Read more about finding internships and how to use these opportunities to advice your career goals!

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Why Meet Employers at the Career Center?

career centerMost HBCU college students, just like all other college students, miss opportunities to meet employers in their college career centers during the fall on-campus recruiting season.

Many college students are just not aware that the fall semester is probably the busiest time in a college career center with employers interviewing students for college internship programs and entry level careers after graduation.

Too many college students only make the mistake of attending employer events only when they actually want to be hired. That may be too late if the competition has already met hiring managers at previous career center campus events.

Here is how and why you want to meet employers in your college career center this fall:


College students can attend employer events between classes. Taking a quick walk across campus to spend 15 minutes with a hiring manager in the college career center is a good way to meet potential employers.

2.Stress free meeting.

Meet with recruiters, employers or hiring managers at information tables or during a classroom visits before you have to meet them at the on-campus job interview.

3. Demonstrate your positive “go-getter” attitude.

Employers are impressed by students who know about their campus visits and show up if even for a few minutes between classes to make a networking connection. Don’t be shy. Employers come to college campuses to meet students —not necessarily to hang out with career center staff. Believe me, many students will know of the employers’ visit, but not think it important enough to be there. You can stand out from the crowd, especially in a tough job market.

4.Branding your campus.

To keep your preferred employers coming back to your college campus, students must show up to employer events. If employers experience low attendance of college students for events, they may drop your school or academic major from their recruiting schedule completely. Attend career center events to keep employers interested in your campus so that when you are ready to graduate—they will still be there.

5. Get feedback on job search strategy.

If you will be looking for career employment or summer internships next year, and want some free career advice on to improve job search strategy, stop by and meet recruiters who can help with college resumes and job interview preparation. You can learn a lot about what employers want when they visit your college campus.

Whether you are a college freshman, sophomore, junior or senior the HBCU career center is counting on your response to employer visits. Always remember to thank employers for coming to your campus, invite them back and ask about how you can keep in touch with them.

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Does Double Major in College = Double Trouble?

Is there real value in having a double major in college?double major

Does having a double major in college give you an advantage when job hunting in a competitive market? Many college students have a second major because they believe it will positively affect a job search strategy. The truth is – not necessarily.

I have yet to meet an employer who was not more impressed with someone who performed well in one major compared to someone who was mediocre in both.

Here are some great and not so great reasons to attempt a double major in college.

Consider a double major if you:
1. Enjoy both subjects or disciplines
2. Are a hard worker and can maintain a good GPA in both areas
3. See a logical connection between both disciplines and can articulate same
4. Need to add some depth to your resume

Do NOT consider a double major in college just because:

1. Your friend, girlfriend, boyfriend is in that college major
2. Others say the major is easy
3. Professors in that major are said to be cooler than in your major
4. You heard that people graduating from that major get paid more
5. Your family member is in that major and they think it should be good for you too
6. College graduation is approaching and you don’t feel “ready” and think you should stay in school for a couple more years. (This actually happens a lot more than you would think).

Read more –
Fastweb.com Double Majors do Double Duty
CollegeTips Double Major in College
No More Triple Majors Please by Brazen Careerist

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