In FT's Test results can define young careers, we learn that EY will give you a chance even with a 3.0 if you can explain your crappy grades:
At Ernst & Young, the global accounting firm, good grades are a key qualification for entry-level jobs and a reliable measurement of “technical ability and work ethic”, says Dan Black, who directs recruiting for the Americas.
While EY does not have a minimum GPA requirement, certain strictures exist. “There is no hard-and-fast rule, but the lower the GPA, the more evidence we need to see of other competencies,” he says.
“If someone comes to us with a 3.9 from a great school, that’s an indicator that they can handle the technical rigours of the job. If someone has a GPA in the lower 3.0 range we would want to see that they had a part-time job to help get through school, or played a sport, or were active in student government. There needs to be a reason [for it].”
Note he says "lower 3.0 range" and not "mid 2.5 range" (I'm looking directly at you, Reddit posters). We already knew 3.0 is pretty much the cut off assuming you are personable and not a completely awful human being.
A few years back, a disappointed recruit emailed us to ask if Big 4 firms were raising their GPA requirements. Back then, Braddock explained things thusly:
Why are the GPA requirements rising? To weed out résumés, obviously. Why look through 500 when you can whittle things down to 400 by cutting out the bottom? If you fall into this range, beg, borrow, and NETWORK your way to an interview. Circumstances are individual – if you have a story or reason as to why you’re on the cusp, track down the recruiter (not a audit/tax professional) at the career fair and state your case. Hard work can be rewarded in cases like this.
So, just as Dan says in the FT article, a 3.0 with minimal social skills and a good cover story such as "I worked three jobs while I was in school so I wouldn't graduate buried in student loan debt" has a better shot than a 3.9 toolbag no one would want to spend even 30 seconds with in the audit room. But we already knew that, too.
Just last year, Dan told Susan Adams at Forbes that grades do matter because how else are they supposed to know if you're not an idiot?
He says, absolutely, he expects to see a GPA on a résumé. “Grades certainly do matter when we’re recruiting students,” he says. “It’s really one of the only indications we have of a student’s technical ability or competence to do the job.”
Wait a second, I thought he just said there are exceptions to the 3.9 rule? So which is it: high GPA and nothing more or decent GPA and a well-rounded package that includes something other than studying for four years straight?