Are You Considering a Career in Management Consulting?


Management consulting is steadily becoming a popular career choice for all types of individuals. It’s also a very difficult industry to get into.

From the outside, the news and media will tell you that consulting firms are expanding, which means that there are vacant positions to fill for career-hungry individuals. Yet from the inside, recruiters and applicants who have gone through the consulting interview process always say that out of the thousands, only a few will be given an employment contract to sign.

Which of these statements are true? To be honest, both statements are true. EY’s quota for new hires in Britain alone is 3,700 by June 2014. However, consulting firms won’t just hire anyone with a high GPA. In order to stay competitive, they have to be as selective as possible.

For someone who is trying to break into the consulting industry, this means that your plan must be accurate and your experience must be relevant.

Know Your Entry Points

There are 3 areas that consulting firms look into when pooling in candidates during recruitment season. These are the following: fresh graduates, MBA graduates and experienced professionals. Fresh graduates will need to make sure that aside from having a high GPA, it is equally important to join the right groups and organizations. Externships in the right firms or leading companies can also boost one’s consulting application.

If you didn’t land the consulting position you had your eye on after graduating, don’t worry. Consulting firms have been known to look into top business schools for hires. With that being said, it is essential to make sure that the business school you are applying for is closely tied with your target firm.

Setting a Target Firm

As mentioned earlier, your plan for breaking into the consulting industry must be on point. One of the biggest mistakes that applicants make is treating all consulting firms the same. A closer look into the “Big 4” firms will tell you that they are very different in who they hire, their methods of practice and work culture. This should be your mindset when setting a target firm. Do as much research as possible, both through online and offline methods.

Talk to consultants in the firm that you are targeting and get as many hard facts as you can. Additionally, it is important to seek advice from clients who the firm has engaged with in the past to get a well-rounded perspective. Don’t let anything prevent you from gathering the information that you need, which leads me to my next point.

Building a Strong Network

A strong consulting network can make a huge difference. Chances are the applicants at the firm you are targeting will have more or less the same set of credentials. What can you do to set yourself apart? Insider tips, recommendations (direct and indirect) and effective advice are the things you need to boost your chances of breaking into the consulting industry. All these things can come from your consulting network.

It is best to build your network from the inside, out. If you have close friends who are consultants they can easily point you in the right direction. It would be wise to get in touch with past alumnus of the university you went to. If you’re a fresh graduate, the organizations that you joined should’ve matched your target firm. By doing this, you can be sure that the group will hold events where consultants from the respective firm are present, and open to talking to future candidates such as yourself.

For those who don’t have access to school groups and organizations (such as professionals), a tried and tested method is attending consulting events, seminars and expos. Events wherein the guest speaker is a senior consultant (preferably from your target firm) usually means that there will be some professionals related to the company who will also be present.

Maximize your time during short breaks by talking to the people in attendance at the event. If you’re at an expo, this is even easier, as you can simply walk around from station to station.

The Start of a New Career

Once you’ve established yourself as a rightful candidate for a consulting position, it’s time to prepare for the recruitment process. This means drafting a cover letter and resume that will blow the other applicants out of the water. Don’t forget to sharpen your mental math, problem solving and analytics skills. Lastly, be ready for curve balls that recruiters may throw in the form of unrelated questions about your application.

ConsultingFact is a leading hub for applicants who are looking into a career in management consulting. The website features various consulting guides related to landing a consulting position, case interview frameworks and consulting skills. An online course is also available for consulting applicants who need an intensive preparation plan in the form of modules, e-books, videos and an engaging online community