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Other How/where to explain grade discrepancy in job applications?

  1. Mar 31, 2017 #1
    Hi all,

    I have a problem. I switched my major nearly two years ago within Engineering, however my university only has one course code for our entire degree which enlists all majors within it. So my issue is that they list ALL of my classes in my academic transcript and weight them all a whole conglomerate.

    The reason this is a problem for me is that due to personal reasons my first major didn't workout so well, 65% average overall perhaps. Whereas for the entire time I've been in my current, new, major my grade average is 90%+. However, the average of the two depicts my current average as lower than it actually is and really impacts my competitiveness in the job market.

    Does anyone know how I could simply explain to the employers through my CV or cover letter, why this discrepancy occurs? As my transcript is literally a print out of classes and marks with my current degree/major title on it.

    I personally don't see a way to get around this at all.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 31, 2017 #2
    I don't understand why on your CV or resume you can't just summarize your 1st & 2nd paragraph here - leaving out what is unnecessary and/or negative, e.g. the statement about your previous major - followed by details of relevant courses & resulting grade average? Provided you state the reason for doing so clearly, and make sure the math jibes with the transcript should anyone bother to parse it, this should be fine. You are doing the reader a service by clarifying what is most relevant to their needs. I definitely wouldn't put such detail in a cover letter; the letter is meant to introduce yourself quickly & positively, not slow the reader down.

    I should say that my perspective is different than yours: I had a long career in a different field (writing and editing); that field had many sub-specialities; and over time I accumulated experience in many of these specialities. Also I typically worked on either assignment or contract, and thus moved around a lot over time. As a result it was commonplace for me, and for professionals like me, to create different resumes for different specialities, as well as for particular projects and/or employers.

    In your case, even while still in school you can learn to write resumes as you want them to be read, provided you do so within limits - i.e. the expectations of those doing the hiring in your industry. It's critical to know what recruiters want to see for both content and presentation, so hopefully you'll get comments from folks here who can give you specifics. On the other hand, a good job-hunt involves much more than sending out resumes, so I wouldn't over-fixate on this one issue. A really effective search involves people as much or more than paper.

    P.S. You'll notice I use the term "resume" rather than "CV"; in the U.S., where I'm from, "CV" isn't much used except for academia; plus the CV format is considered very limiting, focused as it is on academic credentials, with little room to present work/project experience, specific skills & training, etc. Outside the U.S., I have the impression that CVs are fairly commonly used for business in Europe and Asia; however when I Google for job hunting relative to Australia, I seem to see the U.S. usage is quite common, i.e. resumes seem to be favored over CVs. If you can, I'd suggest learning the resume format as it is so much more flexible; but again it will depend on what employers expect where you are.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2017
  4. Apr 1, 2017 #3
    You are the author of your resume and CV and can present the information in any format you choose.

    It is not uncommon in the US for a a section to read something like:

    BS Physics LSU-Baton Rouge Overall GPA: 3.95 Major GPA: 3.72

    Of course, I never list mine that way, because my Physics GPA was lower than my overall.
    (Hey, don't judge, Physics was a weak area for me.)

    When the time comes, you might list yours like:

    Big State U
    BS Physics Major Average: 91% Overall Average: 65%

    As long as the numbers are accurate and can be supported with your transcript, there will be no problem.

    Back in the 80s and 90s a lot of jobs I applied for did not require transcripts. Since 2000 or so, more jobs tend to want transcripts, at least before the offer is finalized or before your first day of work.
  5. Apr 3, 2017 #4
    Only list the major GPA unless otherwise asked to by the job posting; also smaller companies tend to care more about experience vs your grades, so your cover letter should focus on what skills you bring to the table while also avoiding job postings that require higher GPA than you can manage. Again, you might want to look for smaller government/military contractors that are more interested in what tangible skills a person brings to a job vs grades on your transcrips. It's been my experience that such companies at the end of the day really care about your resume/CV and any supporting documentation you might have can demonstrate that you have the skills to make sure the requirements of the actual job get fulfilled. Jobs at big name companies (SpaceX, Boeing, Lockheed, etc) might want transcripts as Dr. Courteny says but that tends to be for new grads relatively recent out of school (and again you might have to avoid them for a time), after a few years of working and you have experience under your belt you'll notice that appropriate job postings don't ask for GPA (though they'll want proof that you have the equivalent of X years of experience). YMMV.
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