Tips and Tricks to Help You Get a Job in Consulting

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:

  1. Reach out early, not just during recruiting season
  2. Don’t over-index on level; instead, prioritize speaking to people who work in areas you are interested in and ask targeted questions
  3. 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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Starting a Job in Management Consulting

Starting a job in management consulting can be exciting and intimidating at the same time. If you will be traveling — as most consultants do — your lifestyle will change dramatically. From the glamor of airline & hotel status, free vacations, and reimbursed steak dinners to the peril of delayed flights, long working hours, and living out of a suitcase, a job in management consulting can be a a bumpy (but rewarding) ride.

So how do you prepare?

Understand what kind of management consulting job you have

Management consulting is an umbrella term often used to describe several different types of jobs in consulting. The main types of management consulting jobs are those offered by some of the larger, well-known firms:

MBB Consulting Firms: McKinsey, Bain, and BCG

“Big 4” Consulting Firms: Deloitte, PwC, Ernst & Young, and KPMG

Other Consulting Firms: Accenture, ZS Associates, Oliver Wyman, etc.

These firms offer a wide variety of management consulting jobs, including: advisory, cyber security, risk management, strategy, technology, and human capital. Additionally, some firms offer these services to all industries while others specialize in just 1 or 2 industries. Understanding what work your firm does, where you fit in, and what industries your clients will be in is a great first step to succeeding in a management consulting job.

Prepare to be a road warrior

For the most part, a job in management consulting means that you will travel. It sounds fun — and it is — but also comes with several downsides you may not recognize at first. It is critical to prepare for traveling in management consulting.

Get your travel essentials

Investing in the right travel essentials (bags, headphones, toiletries) will help you have an enjoyable experience on the road. These are some of the key items you should invest in, along with some of my favorites:

Pick a hotel and airline – and stick with it

Accumulating airline miles and hotel points is one of the best perks of a job in management consulting – make sure you pick one brand and stick with it for as long as you can. Top airlines include Delta, American Airlines, and United. My personal favorite is Delta, as they offer unlimited complimentary upgrades (upon availability) and have the best service from my perspective. After the Marriott / SPG merger, choosing Marriott as your hotel of choice is probably your best bet.

Pro Tip: Be sure to check with your firm to see if they offer any status challenges to help you get to top-tier status way quicker than anyone else!

Network, Network, Network

Your network will be your largest asset in consulting — be sure to go to company events and talk to your peers about topics you are interested in. This will help drive your success and career path in a management consulting job.

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