At what point does GPA hit diminishing returns for recruitment?

diakjs's picture
Rank: Monkey | 45

East coast top 30 semitarget - we get decent OCR.

Once I hit 3.5 GPA, how much is it worth it to keep putting in hours to raise my GPA?

Is this really the cutoff, or do I need to be higher to hit a safe zone?

Aiming for BBs and assuming relevant work experience + average school ECs

Comments (48)

May 6, 2019

NO GPA IS A SAFEZONE. Sorry to tell you your Half A and Half B average is shit.

Maybe this isn't the line of work for you want to give up when you hit the right level. Kids will lap you if you stop working. Simply put Network and always make yourself the most competitive you can. NO ONE IS SAFE.

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May 6, 2019

people have a finite amount of time bud. no need to go on a self righteous rant if you don't have the ability to answer the question. you telling me 4.0 + no extracurriculars + no networking > 3.9 with networking + extracurriculars?

you really don't seem fun to be around - look into the airport test.

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May 6, 2019

Thank you for your example. I agree that a 3.9 with networking + extracurriculars > 4.0 + no extracurriculars + no networking.

But you don't have a 3.9 you have a 3.5. You come here for help, but only want to hear that you Average GPA makes you a GOD. Sorry you don't want to hear the truth.

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May 7, 2019

you sound fun

May 7, 2019
PeRmAnEnTiNtErN:

NO GPA IS A SAFEZONE. Sorry to tell you your Half A and Half B average is shit.

Maybe this isn't the line of work for you want to give up when you hit the right level. Kids will lap you if you stop working. Simply put Network and always make yourself the most competitive you can. NO ONE IS SAFE.

You know all of that coffee and Adderall is really going to be bad for your heart one day.

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Funniest
May 6, 2019

so you're telling me you're going to have an average GPA and average ECs, do you want an average job too?

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May 6, 2019

nice snarky reply, but I'm a freshman biomedical engineering major interning at a top 5MM IB this summer.

cool last post btw - teach me how to be alpha when you find out

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May 6, 2019

lol i will

May 7, 2019

-WSO Blogging Intern

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May 6, 2019

3.5 is the minimum cutoff usually held for people with double majors potentially including something like applied math / cs. Even then the people tend to get accepted with cutoff GPA's have connections, above and beyond EC's, etc.

If you want to be under average in one thing you need to be above average in another.

May 6, 2019

I think 3.8 is a good sweet spot. If you are doing everything else you should be doing for IB (networking hard, good extracurriculars, etc.), at 3.8+ GPA your GPA will not hold you back. That said, as many other people have said, you could well have a 3.2 and bust your ass in many other ways and still get an offer (I'm starting FT at a BB this summer with a GPA below 3.8) but to me, 3.8+ is a good number to aim for

May 7, 2019

Once you hit 3.7 it makes zero difference to anyone. A 3.5 is a little too low.

May 7, 2019

TBH, I've interviewed 4.0's that couldn't put a solid story together for their resume walk-throughs because all they did was study. I'd rather speak to a 3.5 who started a business while in college and worked full-time through the degree, who has solid extracurriculars and can hold a decent conversation.

That being said, I'd suggest that anywhere between 3.5 and 3.7 is plenty.

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May 6, 2019

if you dont mind saying, interviewing for what? BB IB? PE?

May 7, 2019

MM PE, $5-10 billion fund.

May 7, 2019

One other thing to point out is that most college students think that their GPA or school will matter forever. This is pure BS. I've been offered roles at top IB groups given my current gig's reputation without GPA ever being a factor and had a 3.7 at a non-target.

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May 7, 2019

Hey OP,

You can still break in with 3.5, but you will need more hustle. I feel, from personal experience, that the there are diminishing returns past 3.7ish.

3.5 - Not a retard
3.7 - Good at school
4.0 - Amazing, prob wont make many mistakes in my decks

Now obv, a 4.0 is ideal, but I think 3.7 is fine if you are somewhat interesting and have some experience and other things to talk about other than school.

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Most Helpful
May 7, 2019

longer diatribe below - key points are, if you are going to do it - fucking do it. Others will find a way to do everything they want, you should focus on learning that now. Manage your time effectively and you can do everything - plus, it gets harder to learn when you get older.

There's no magic number. Sure, you can hit the 'cutoff' where your resume doesn't simply get shredded but then where does that leave you? Now you are in the pond, with the lowest of the 'high' GPA's.

The only time you can coast is when you have an offer in hand, and it's the last semester (or whole year, if you are absurdly lucky) of senior year. Then, sure, go at it. The reality is you need to maximize it as much as humanly possible, while doing all of the other stuff. Remember that someone out there IS doing both - getting a 4.0, contributing to a student managed investment fund, playing a sport, being in a frat, saving the homeless or the whales... whatever your choice.

After being in the industry for a little while now, the sheer number of people who are brilliant, articulate, motivated and seemingly do everything at a high level is - well - terrifying. The habits you build now, when you may not NEED to do it, are the ones that will carry you when you get into the workforce and through life generally.

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May 7, 2019

Absolutely fantastic advice for not only IB, but life.

May 7, 2019

Somewhere around 3.8 people are going to stop splitting hairs over your GPA.

Problem with 3.5 isn't that people expect a 3.5 to perform any worse than a 3.8+. It's that busy HR girls need to get through the resume stack and have no incentive to make sure they're picking the very best people. So ECs and other ancillary shit aren't going to matter nearly as much as people claim.

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May 7, 2019

A 3.5 I view on the low end of even considering somebody, personally. IMO a 3.7 and above is good and won't cause me to question your intelligence / academic capabilities. That's an A- average. I don't want people working under me that are doing below A- level work. I really don't give a shit if people cry about having a 3.4 and not making it even though "I did sports, I had a part time job, I did all these ECs" - too fucking bad, do you know how many people did all those things and had a significantly higher GPA? I know I was one of those people. Consistently the people who slip through w/ subpar GPAs tend to be shit at the job.

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May 7, 2019

Could you elaborate on what you mean by "shit at the job"? What skills did you find them lacking?

May 6, 2019

If I had to guess there is a certain level of attention to detail that a higher GPA signals. I know often there are the smart kids (or think of anyone from greek life that has a test bank) that can ace test no problem but, miss the small details on some of the questions (Difference between a 95% and 100%).

Also, if you believe on a fundamental level that everyone in school, is in school to learn, and you don't want to focus on academics then, how can I trust you can focus on the CIM or Deal long enough to get the quality of work done that needs to get done.

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May 7, 2019

This isn't a hard-and-fast rule because, as others have pointed out, there are subjective considerations, but I'd say 3.85 and up. No one expects or necessarily is looking for someone w/ a 4.0 GPA and you'll never get dinged or beat in first-round resume screening for not having one. Given that, you're always safe w/ the next best thing, which is rounding to a 3.9/4.0. There are many instances where you're safe w/ lower, but there are zero returns in the area btwn 3.85 and 4.0.

I come from down in the Valley, where Mr. when you're young, they bring you up to do like your daddy done.

May 7, 2019

I want to go ahead and say "never", but I feel like it kind of depends on what you're shooting for. Generally, I'd say 3.7 is high enough to not get your resume immediately thrown in the trash,

May 7, 2019

I run recruiting for my alma mater at a BB. Curious as to where you work if you toss resumes under 3.7 in the trash "immediately"

May 6, 2019

Bankers can and will get a couple hundred Linked connection and Resumes in a year. ( Not even to mention the resumes that come through HR) With that being said bankers don't have a an additional 40 hrs to look at ever resume and talk to every connection. Hence the messages that get ignored and resumes that get trashed.

If you are recruiting at your alma mater you may know the clubs or classes that make a better student. And you may look past a 3.7. But, if a Banker gets a 3.5 GPA and average EC's what makes you stand out in that pile of 200 others.

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May 8, 2019

I have reviewed stacks of resumes for my bank that came from the on campus social events we do prior to recruiting season.

So, these are packets of resumes for people we invited to a bar/dining hall/etc for informal group chats.

Literally - and I mean literally - every one of these kids is:

-3.8+ gpa

-Several non finance internships with clearly bullshit but also impressive sounding stats in the description

-position in the student investment club

Most also have some BS charity they founded or whatever.

It's so over the top it actually blows my mind.

All this is to say that if you're trying to get noticed at my bank through the front door, a perfect resume is basically table stakes. For every fraction of a kid with that profile that receives an offer at these events, all the others with that profile will get rejected.

Anecdotal, but food for thought. I would not feel comfortable if I were you.

That said, once your resume is in the ballpark, I think networking is way more important for getting noticed. Since you can't manufacture the other stuff on short notice you may want to focus your efforts there instead.

May 6, 2019

how can you say that these resumes are perfect when they are just bullshit

May 7, 2019

It's not about them being 'perfect' in a literal sense - the point is that I don't need to, if i'm selecting someone out of college, settle for anything less than whatever made up criteria is in my mind - often, that criteria includes the above qualifications as a starting point. Put slightly differently, it is up to you to put together a resume with 0 real world experience that makes me, us, or anyone pay attention to it. We, people on this forum, are self selecting into the race for the top 1% of the high paying jobs, careers, etc. which is going to create a hyper competitive environment - and if you aren't comfortable with people's resumes out of college being bullshit, just wait until you get into finance generally!

I see your point, however. I am taking the CFA - no three letters make me angrier than those. It's frustrating that people say 'well, if you had your CFA' or 'if you showed progress towards your CFA' like it will make me magically sprout analytical capabilities overnight or better interpret all the earnings out there (please don't get me started that you learn IFRS and GAAP with half the companies not even reporting to those standards).

But here's the reality - It's the 'table stakes' to use the other poster's parlance for what I want to do. It's on every resume, qualification, job posting - is it bullshit? Maybe. Unfortunately it doesn't matter. The alternative is to be the .0000001% outlier that is so incredible that it doesn't matter - which, sadly, I am not.

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May 8, 2019

I want to be impressed with high GPAs, then I read comment threads on WSO by dudes with those GPAs, and see this kind of garbage. This thread majorly sucks. I know guys in late 20s/early 30s are still knuckleheads, but some of you are just writing the same shit you wrote on College Confidential or GMAT club ten years ago. Just tell him to get as high a GPA as possible and move on. Geesh.

I need to stick to the real estate threads, that's the most useful group on this site lately.

May 9, 2019

No one gives a fuck about your GPA if it's above the HR cut off. Which is basically 3.5 or a merit in the UK.
To get the job you'll need to network and have somebody push through your CV to get that interview. At this point your GPA doesn't matter, but your people skills as well as your technical skills for the job you are interviewing for matter. It's a joke to think that you will randomly be taken out of the pile of CVs and offered an interview, it's so rare for this to happen without the hustle. Unless you are a 4.0 student that has 12 internships at GS and Blackstone - it likely won't happen (if you are targeting BB).
That said I don't see why you should just "cruise" at any point in time through your college life except maybe at the end when you have your offer.

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May 7, 2019

THANK YOU

I swear people are insane thinking that a 3.95 is the best qualifier of a good candidate - GPAs like this are nearly impossible at certain schools.

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May 9, 2019
Comment

just google it...you're welcome

May 9, 2019