At McKinsey, BCG or Bain, a candidate should have at least 3.6 GPA to insure against any doubts about academic achievements. However, lower GPAs do not automatically disqualify a candidate; a 3.2-GPA resume can still pass to the next round if it shows outstanding achievements elsewhere.

1. What is the cut-off GPA? What does that “soft” bar look like?

It looks like a spectrum, ever going from low to high with increasing odds the higher you get.

Below 3.0 3.0 to 3.3 3.3 to 3.6 Above 3.6
Critical condition. Very low chance of passing to the next rounds. Mild symptoms. Low chance of passing to the next rounds. Stable condition. Medium chance of passing to the next rounds. Healthy status. Good impression generated.
Est. passing chance*: <1% Est. passing chance*: <5% Est. passing chance*: <10% Est. passing chance*: >10%
Good news: I have helped 3 candidates pass the resume round with a sub-3.0 GPA before. Keep reading! This GPA range is still considered as “low” in screeners’ eyes. Keep reading! In this range, typically your GPA neither helps or hurts you. Keep reading anyway! This GPA range is considered good and it does help you. No need to waste time reading below this.

*Regardless of GPA, on average less than 10% of resumes get passed to next rounds

Go see how you can perfect each and every bullet!

2. How to improve your consulting resume with a low GPA?

So you have a problem with GPA I assume? What are the solutions? How to convince the recruiters about your fit? 

I will tell you the specific tips to deal with medium-to-low GPA in a moment, but the spirit is that you need to make your resume perfect in every other aspects. I have written an extensive guide on how to do just that – here’s the link, after reading this article, spend 30 minutes on that A-to-Z guide – it will save you weeks of resume drafting!

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2.1 Direct screeners’ attention to other parts of your resume

How do we do that? By using other distractors for lazy eyes:

  • Big Brand Names
  • High standardize scores
  • Awards, medals, etc.
  • More numbers, and more numbers. Impressive ones!

The idea is to make the GPA less recognizable. Marketing people say that one bad comment on social media requires 4 positive ones to balance out. Similarly, if the GPA is a bad number, you need 4 good ones. Think hard here, trace it all the way back to your high school time if necessary. Anything easy-to-read positivity will do!

It is best to have these numbers right within the Education section because they act as a defensive fortress surrounding your bad GPA. But it also helps to have good numbers in your outer perimeter defense too. Fill your resume with good numbers from top to bottom.

2.2 Alter wordings to make the GPA appear in its best

In many countries with different grading systems, converting scores to the grade-point average system (GPA) always make the grade seem worse. For example, an average grade of 8.0 in Vietnam is considered very very good. But in GPA, it’s only around 3.0. Not impressive at all.

In these situations, I even recommend just using the original grading system in the particular country and adding a side note on how it stacks up against peers.

2.3 Networking with employees from inside the firms

Networking can help elevate your resume to the top of the pile when the firm is deciding who does and who doesn’t get interviews.

 

 

Who do you should network with? 
Anyone in the office willing to recommend you! He or she can be any consultant, regardless of the level. Typically, your school’s alumni are great for this.

Networking is especially effective with McKinsey since they have the PST. They will basically be willing to pass any recommended resume to the PST round. It’s relatively cheap to organize a PST compared to an interview.

2.4 Excel in every other aspect!

After all, GPA is just the first thing the screener looks at, definitely not the last. The overall strategy here is to apply the above tips just enough to convince the screener to keep on reading. And from here, you burst it wide open with amazing bullets filled with difficult challenges and amazing achievements. Great bullets after great bullets. The screener’s eyes get glued into your compelling writing and totally forget about the GPA thing. No better place to learn that than the Consulting Resume A-Z.

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