Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Can Bad Grades Hold You Back From Finding A Decent Job?

With my last two blog entries (here and here)I was taking a look at the struggles of teens finding work this summer. Every summer, college students and high school graduates look for work, but what if your grades aren't up to par? Well the same question was asked on Spherion Blog. Here is what one of the readers asked:

Q: Dear Seymour, My grades aren't great. Does this mean I will have a harder time finding a job?

Here is what Seymour had to say:

Good grades are always a plus on your record. They can earn you recognition and often can open doors. However, good grades aren't important to everyone. To some, grades are an arbitrary measurement system that can depend on what classes you took, the difference between individual teachers, or other factors that don't necessarily reflect on a student's intelligence or abilities. Less-than-perfect grades are not a barrier to finding your dream job. There are still great ways for you to market yourself to a potential employer:

Don't make grades the most prominent part of your resume. When you create your resume, you don't necessarily have to list a GPA. As long as you have a degree or course credit (in other words, as long as you passed something), that is enough to list. Most employers look at your broad education and any experience that relates to the job you are applying for, not your GPA.

Focus on your passions. Put time and thought into what you want to do. Why are you applying for certain positions over others? If you are passionate about a job when another candidate with perfect grades is tepid about it, then you will stand out. Most employers are looking for people who are diligent, honest, work hard, and are happy about coming to work. If you care about what you want to do and are serious about it, that will shine through in an interview and set you apart.

Don't bring up bad grades unless you are asked -- if you are, have a good answer. Never highlight less than stellar qualities in an application process. Unless you are specifically asked about your grades, don't bring it up. If you are asked directly, don't lie. Be honest, but be prepared with a brief explanation about your grades. Do not make excuses. Some good answers could include, "I wasn't focused for the first two years of school," or "I had some temporary personal circumstances," or "I wasn't passionate about what I was studying, but I am very passionate about my current career path." Keep it brief and move on.

Have some other activities to boost your credentials. Find activities that complement your chosen career. Join clubs, trade associations, professional associations, or volunteer organizations that coincide with your field. Using your free time to devote yourself to these things will draw more attention to your motivation and take away from your report card.

These are great tips on how to make you stand out a little more when you thought your grades might hold you back from getting a job.

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