The author of this blog has 12 years experience working for a top tier management consultant in both their European and Asian offices specialising in the energy sector. His current role is as an in house consultant for a global transport company located in the US.
What Management Consulting Companies Look For
There are a variety of reasons why this could be a great career move, but it all starts with a great job application. In the past, top-tier firms had a 1% acceptance rate, due to strong interest from young graduates and limited spaces. Hence, it is critical for you to put your best foot forward and try to stand out from the crowd.
To make your application stand out and get that crucial interview, you need to focus on the three most important criteria they use to assess entry level candidates: academic pedigree, interesting work experience, and your personal motivation. Let’s break these down a bit.
With thousands of applications to sift through every year, HR staff and junior consultants undertake a first review, and pass on high profile resumes to office partners, who then decide on which applicants to invite for interviews. For this initial review, academic pedigree is a key factor.
Namely, is your university well regarded? What grades did you obtain? Did you major in a subject that could fit well with the consulting toolkit e.g., economics, business, STEM subjects? When drafting your resume and cover letter, focus on highlighting the classes and academic qualifications that are most impressive and a good fit with consulting.
Interesting work experience
Even for entry-level consulting roles, applicants need to demonstrate their professional business acumen by gaining relevant work experience. This also include internships, job placements, and volunteering. Because management consulting firms work with large corporations, they most value work experience with ‘brand name’ companies like Google, Goldman Sachs or General Electric.
Your resume and interviews need to highlight your specific role, what YOU (not the team) achieved and the skills you picked up in your professional life.
In every step of the application process, from resume screening to final interviews, your future colleagues will be assessing your motivation. Why do you really want to work with us? Have you done your research and have a good understanding of what management consulting is? Why do you like our specific firm? What have you done so far to prove that you are serious and passionate about joining us?
To answer these questions, avoid generic answers from google, and instead speak with actual consultants and learn about the pros and cons. Attend career fairs and build you network. Learn about multiple consulting firms and form a view on what makes your firm of choice stand above the rest.
There is no guarantee to get an offer with a specific firm, but by applying to a few consulting companies and focusing on these key criteria, you can set yourself up for success and a launching pad for a great career in business.
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