Breaking into consulting isn’t easy. At each college or university, there are hundreds of candidates following similar casing strategies and behavioral interview frameworks, vying for just a few positions. Each candidate is unique in his or her own way, and showing that individuality is critical in making a lasting first impression on recruiting mangers.
After being both a candidate and a seasoned consultant screening other applicants, I’ve learned a few things that would have made the recruiting process a lot easier if I had known them ahead of time. Here are my top pieces of advice on how to get a job in consulting:
1. All Networking isn’t Good Networking
Most consulting candidates know networking is important. They go to all recruiting events and try to get a few words in with every practitioner they can. Almost always, these candidates end with “Do you mind if I get a business card so we can stay in touch?”
Business cards are not Pokémon — you don’t need to catch ’em all.
Networking by trying to talk to as many people as possible isn’t an effective strategy, but it’s a great way to come off fake and make a bad first impression. Instead, I encourage applicants to network with a purpose.
This means three things:
- Reach out early, not just during recruiting season
- Don’t over-index on level; instead, prioritize speaking to people who work in areas you are interested in and ask targeted questions
- If you make a genuine connection, maintain it by asking for their contact information and staying in touch (even if you don’t end up getting / wanting the job)
2. Perfect Your Résumé
The 80/20 rule is important in consulting, but not when it comes to your résumé. Take the time to really think about the message you are trying to get across to recruiting managers and make sure your résumé reflects that. Only include relevant items (high school debate club does not count) and be sure to measure your impact when detailing your past experiences (e.g. “Led X initiatives that increased profitability by Y% over the period of Z years).
3. Don’t Overlook Your Campus Recruiter
Campus recruiters don’t make hiring decisions, but they are critical resources and can help guide you as you navigate the application process. In the past, recruiters have helped me connect with consulting practitioners, speed up interview timelines, and extend deadlines. Be sure to know who your campus recruiter is and to introduce yourself. To earn some brownie points, you can also offer to help out in any way you can with on-campus recruiting events, room bookings, etc. You never know when that connection will come in handy.
For more advice on how to get a job in consulting, check out Case Interview Secrets by Victor Cheng. It’s a great read, extremely helpful, and helped me get a job in consulting when I was an applicant.
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