Scamming Your Resume

Jul 11th, 2010 | By | Category: abundance, application, aptitude, Career advice, career challenges, career choices, challenges, CV, GPA, grades, job description, mentor, resume, skills, success

This week there seemed to be a lot of questions regarding resumes, applications and CVs.  What was unusual this week is most of the questions were about getting caught in a lie.  The biggest culprit was grades.  Some added a few points to their grade point average. Others just flat out copied the scores from the template they were using.  There were those who omitted the courses with Ds and Fs and recalculated their grade point average only using the courses they received Cs or better in.  In most of the cases the potential employer checked with the college.

Searching the Internet to try to determine how many employers check grades was a wash.  There were about as many hits that indicated that potential employers check academic records as there were websites that said most employers don’t check.  From personal experience, most application processes eventually required a confirmation of graduation and a transcript of courses and grades before being hired.

There is a lot of pressure to have the best GPA possible on a resume or application.  Career Builder.com states: “According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ “Job Outlook 2005” survey, 70 percent of hiring managers do report screening applicants based on their GPA, but the largest group say they use a 3.0 as their cutoff.” (http://www.careerbuilder.com/article/cb-469-getting-hired-does-your-gpa-really-matter/)  It is no wonder an applicant in this job market would want to inflate their grades, but it is like playing Russian roulette.  In Russian roulette there is a 1 in 6 chance (16.6 %) of losing, and losing is fatal.  Getting caught lying on applications, resumes, and CVs usually results being dropped from consideration or terminated.

The bottom line advice from almost sources is not to blatantly lie when applying for a job.  There are a few strategies to listing your grades in a manner to put the best spin on them.  If you have good grades in your major list those courses out separately and calculate the GPA.  Another is to list courses and grades by year. Most students tend to do better their junior and senior years.  If you still can’t get to that magic 3.0 or better, what’s left.

Employers are looking for employees who can handle the job and excel in the workplace.  Often an applicant who can tactfully and artfully explain why their GPA is low may get an interview where they can relate their circumstances one-on-one.  Some examples of plausible explanations for less than a 3.0 GPA are: working fulltime, active military service, family obligations, and serious illness.  If you decide to explain a low GPA, be sure to have your facts and story straight before you begin, trying to wing may backfire.

The best strategy is to get good grades. In hindsight, employers look at the GPA, they hardly ever look at how long it took you get through school, or how many courses you carried per semester.  It is better to take fewer courses and concentrate on getting A’s and B’s than carrying a heavy load and getting C’s or worse.  In addition, it is better to drop a course you are doing badly in than to risk a bad grade.  Often when the last date to drop a class rolls around it is almost too late to salvage a B. Even a great score on the final will only get you a C.  Try to balance your workload so that you have more time to spend on your difficult classes.  In addition, take advantage of tutors and study groups.  Look around and see how the smart kids manage their schedules, study time, and work groups.  Remember once a final grade is posted, it is what it is.

The good news is, after a few years in the workforce experience and skills are more influential than grades.  Although your grades stay with you throughout your career, experience and achievements become more important to employers.  Once you gain some job experience, your resume, CV and most applications will start with your latest position and work backward.  I have seen resumes with degrees listed with no dates or GPAs.

It is possible to increase your GPA by taking more courses, but once you are near graduation adding a few A’s hardly budges your GPA.  A more productive move may be to take master level classes.  Even if you do not complete the degree you can list your grad school GPA separate from your undergraduate GPA.

The PracticaL Mentor

In conclusion, supplying false information on job applications, resumes, etc. is a risky business.  If caught you could ruin your career.

The Practical Mentor.

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