Q: Should I include my GPA on my resume? If not, won’t employers assume I am hiding bad grades?
A: No. Employers who hire legal professionals do not expect a candidate’s numerical GPA to be included on the resume. Nor do they assume that if the GPA is missing from the CV the grades are subpar or a candidate is engaging in funny business.
If you’re a law firm associate applying for associate positions, most every firm will require you to submit your law school transcript. So they will see the good, the bad and the ugly of each and every grade you received in law school … regardless of whether it appears on your resume. For the law firm partner, the only numbers a firm cares about are the ones measuring the book of business. And for corporate employers, grades are not as critical in assessing the quality of a candidate—so grades aren’t typically scrutinized. Consequently, including the numbers is not an industry standard … or a must.
With this said, doing well in school is a marketable feature that can enhance a candidacy. So any achievement should be “advertised” when a professional excels in this area. The following are examples of designated honors—separate from the GPA—that should be included within the “education” section of a resume:
- Cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude, Order of the Coif, with honors etc.
- #1 class rank
- A class ranking in the Top 10 percent or higher (Top 15 to 20 percent is OK, but the impact is diluted)
- Academic Scholarships
- Academic Awards
- Law Review
- Dean’s list
These achievements will highlight your academic excellence and imbed other positive impressions about you for an employer.
Hard numbers are dicey. And no matter how high they are, there’s always room to go higher. So unless your grades are off the charts, you’re better off excluding the GPA and sticking with the other distinctions for an academic job well done.
Julie Brush is the founder and author of The Lawyer Whisperer (www.thelawyerwhisperer.com), a career advice column for legal professionals, also found on LinkedIn. She is co-founder of Solutus Legal Search, a legal search/consulting boutique firm, serving as a strategic adviser to lawyers, law firms and corporations.