For applicants with an MBA or advanced degree, is undergrad GPA important to put on your consulting resume?

I am starting a Master’s of Int’l Business at XXXXXXXXX (A top 25 MBA program) and hoping to do a McKinsey internship next summer.  I have high test scores and, being older and wiser and with my self more in order, plan to have a great first semester at XXXXXXXXXXX, but my undergrad GPA is only 2.8 (with the final 2 semesters being 3.5 and 3.7 though).

Should I still include undergrad GPA on my resume?  Any other relevant tips?

My Response:

This is a tough one and the answer may vary base on which team is screening your resume for consulting.

For MBA applicants for full time positions, the GMAT and MBA GPA and work experience will be the key factors. The name brand of the MBA program is very key. The name brand of the undergrad institution will help as well.

For MBA internship applicants, a lot of times the recruiting process takes place before any grades are given for an MBA program. So in that respect, no MBA GPA exists. If McKinsey recruits at your school, then just follow their guidelines.  My suspicion is that undegrad GPA is more likely to be considered for an MBA intern applicant than an MBA full time applicant.

In general, McKinsey has an overwhelming bias to hire highly pedigreed individuals – the most prestigious schools with the best scores and best interpersonal skills. Now not all firms are as strict as this, but McKinsey tends to be.

Let me put things in perspective. I first started working at McKinsey when I was 21 years old. By the time I was 22 years old, they were billing me out at close to $500k per year (and this was a few years ago). To be clear they certainly were not paying me anything close that amount!  (It’s good to be a McK partner!)

One of my clients who I had a close relationship with was 66 years old, who had just been promoted to run an entire division — the first time in his career (prior to that he had run sales for divisions, but never ran the entire division).

Despite being 3 times my age, he was asking me for career advice, etc… It helps to be good at what you do. But it also helps to have some kind of very impressive “mystique” to your resume… some kind of accomplishment that a client would ohhh and ahhh over… something “untainable” that they could never accomplish or tried and failed.  And it gives them some degree of satisfaction and reassurance to hire McKinsey and have these very accomplished people working for them.

Note none of this is ever stated explicitly by anyone at McKinsey, but in my opinion was sort of the unwritten and certainly unspoken psychology behind it.

Also keep in mind that for the most part, McKinsey hires from the same sources as BCG and Bain do… yet McKinsey fees are 20% – 40% more expensive. The mystique factor (e.g., super impressive accomplishments on resume) is a part of it.

Hope that sheds some light on the thought process.

One final thought, if the undegrad GPA is expected (depending on how/when you apply) and you exclude it, one of two things will happen. 1) The recrutiing coordinator for the school, will contact you and ask for the info before passing it along to the resume screening team, or 2) they will assume it’s a bad number and act accordingly.

If you need to disclose it, it should come with a darn good cover letter saying you were a genius in college but didn’t try very hard – thus had poor grades, but look at my perfect GMAT scores, so clearly I’m smart enough… you know tell a good (truthful) story.

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