What GPA is required to get a job at the Big 4 Accounting Firms? Can you get into the Big 4 with a low GPA? Let’s answer those questions and many more with today’s post.
There is no yes or no answer to this question. I’m sorry, but it depends on the person and the circumstances.
For example, if you live in a small town in Wyoming and go to a small school in Wyoming, then yes you need a good gpa. If on the other hand you go to the University of Texas or BYU, and your grade point average is low, then I wouldn’t worry about it.
The Big 4 do have Minimum GPA Requirements
But they aren’t the same at all schools. At some schools like Texas and BYU they are only 3.2. At other schools, the GPA requirements typically are between 3.5 and 3.7 minimum. That is because the big 4 receive tons of candidates from those other schools with really high GPAs.
It’s much harder to get a 3.9 at BYU or Texas than it is at Baruch or University of Phoenix. Now I know I’ll get a bunch of emails from the Baruch people telling me how difficult it is at their school, but I’d ask them to go to BYU or Texas and then let me know their thoughts about how hard your school is.
Other Factors That Could Hide a Low GPA
Now that we have that part over with what else matters. Some of you might have extracurricular activities that could factor in like Beta Alpha Psi. Many people have this. Although this helps, it doesn’t guarantee anything.
You aren’t really being recruited by the Big 4 Accounting Firms when you go through the recruiting process. You are being recruited by whatever gatekeeper you are dealing with. If you go the traditional route, that gatekeeper is a big 4 recruiter that comes and recruits at your school. The recruiter will see that you are a member of Beta Alpha Psi and factor that in if you are tied with another candidate. However, if the other person has a higher GPA it won’t help you out.
If you don’t go to a big enough school, then you recruiter is the abyss that is the big 4 career website. Beta Alpha Psi and other extracurriculars definitely won’t make a difference here either.
Alternatively, if you can get close to a partner, that partner is your gatekeeper. Now just because you know a partner and they like you, it doesn’t mean they will get you a job. Try to get close to a partner that has passion and likes to work hard. They will get you the job because they can push pass the malaise that is the big 4 recruiting machine with all its checklists and redtape. Extracurriculars might help you with partners because it shows interest outside of school. You need to have other interests in order to relate to clients. Having extracurriculars like charity work improves your chances of impressing a partners.
Big 4 Red Tape Messes Everything Up
That’s the other thing you have to understand. This process is littered with red tape. The big 4 recruiter on campus has a checklist that they have to follow. They might imitate a human being and seem like they have a ton of authority, but in all honesty their jobs turn them into robots and they don’t authority. The big 4 don’t get married to personnel because they know they will likely leave soon. Therefore, it is easy for them to pass on any given candidate. They want the candidate to be an off the shelf candidate. That means they want you to be in a nice neat little package with all boxes checked off.
They don’t want the custom model big 4 candidate with all shiny features and a low GPA.
If you are the custom model, then you have to find the right fit into the big 4. This might mean adding more customization to your model.
Why Do You Want to Work at The Big Four?
Whenever I see the question about having a low gpa and ability to work at the big 4, I have some questions for that person. If you want to work at the big 4 so bad, then how did you get a bad GPA.
I’m not trying to say that I think there is something wrong with the person as far as intelligence; I just question the motivation.
If you were aware of the GPA requirement, then why didn’t you do everything to meet it. If you are still early on in college, just work to fix your GPA. Don’t tell me you don’t know what to do. There are many reasons why you could have a low GPA. Maybe it’s a learning disability that you have. Maybe you are just extremely disinterested. Maybe you have a job to pay for school and work around the clock. Having that job makes you too tired to study. Maybe you have a family and don’t have time to study.
You need to try to understand why you have a low GPA and whether you truly want to work at the big 4. Can you make getting a higher GPA a priority. If not, then maybe the big 4 wasn’t meant for you.
If you can get a job somewhere else with the GPA you have, then I say you should go for it. If you bust your butt at a job, then usually great things come to you like an offer from a big 4. Even if you never get a job at the big 4, maybe you can get promoted inside of a company and have a better career than a big 4 candidate.
In conclusion, you need to understand how you got your bad GPA and whether you truly want to work at the big 4 before you proceed forth in you big 4 search. It’s a good moment to pause and reflect. If you could not do the work at school, let me tell you that it doesn’t get any easier in the big 4.
5 Tactics to Get A Big 4 Job With A Low GPA
- Move to a big city with a lot of openings and apply to all the big 4. Your likelihood of getting a job in a big city is good. This is because all big 4 firms will be present in big cities. There are also more clients in big cities. This means more opportunities for jobs.
- Move to a big city and apply to all mid-tier and regional accounting firms. Once you are accepted at one of these firms, gain a couple of years of experience and then transfer to big 4.
- Work at a client of the big 4. Going into industry is not a death sentence. Make sure you go to a company that is growing and that you will like though. Then make sure you work really hard and get good reviews. Then transfer to the big 4.
- Accept a lower position within a big 4 firm. If none of the above examples are suitable to you. Then join the big 4 internal firms services department. This means become a recruiter yourself or become an admin at the big 4. Once you are inside of the big 4, it is much easier to transfer around. It is harder getting inside than it is transferring around. I once saw an executive assistant who was a supreme brown noser go from executive assistant to senior associate without an accounting degree or clients. It also helped that she was optically pleasing, but this just goes to show you that it is easy transfer once you are inside the big firms.
- Look on LinkedIn and indeed to see where the most big 4 openings are and ask your big 4 recruiter about that city. Make sure you specify the line of service as well. The big 4 always need bodies somewhere because they are always winning huge projects. Sometimes the recruiters don’t know where though. If you identify that area and bring it up to your recruiter, you have a chance at nailing that job.
Can you get inside of the big 4 accounting firms with a low grade point average. Yes I believe you can, but you truly have to believe in yourself. Write it down somewhere everyday. Make it all you think about and your conscious and subconscious brain will get you there. Your brain will problem solve a way in. You will either use some of the strategies I have mentioned above or you will come up with a derivative strategy on your own. Either way I wish you the best of luck.
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