Finding the right boutique consulting firm and removing embarrassing Facebook photos

I’m back in a blog-posting mode now, so expect a major content injection in the next few days. Coming up, I have an interview with Steve Shu (of consulting blog fame).

For now, here’s a roundup of popular reader questions:

For a complete list of reader questions I’ve answered here at MC, visit the FAQ page. Ctrl-F to find what you need

I missed the summer recruiting cycle here at XYZ University. What can I do now?

The short answer is that you’ve missed out on your best shot at consulting internships. It’s worthwhile now to initiate contact with your school recruiting office, recruiters at consulting firms that come to campus, etc – and explain your situation in brief with a resume attached.

At the same time, I’d look into alternative summer employment options – while helpful, it’s not mandatory to have a summer consulting internship for fulltime recruiting (there are very few of these, to begin with).

What should I do with my Facebook and Myspace accounts? What about my blog?

Be careful when managing these resources. To be safe, remove all sensitive information and embarrassing photos. Even if you great control of privacy settings and your friend list, you never know how recruiters may wind up with potentially damaging information.

As to your blog – it can be a plus to mention that on your resume. At least a small percentage of the time, resume reviewers will visit your site. Make sure the content and site design are high-quality and leave a positive impression on visitors.

I’d be careful with tough-to-substantiate claims on your resume. If you state that you founded a private equity firm in college and a quick Google search for your “Rising Equity” PE fund shows a picture of 4 teenagers on a dumpy-looking website, you’re in trouble.

What’s the difference between first and second round interviews?

First rounds are broad in scope used as a tool to make sure you reach a general bar in whatever characteristics that firm is looking for typically some combination of analytics and communication skills. First-round cases are straight-forward and cover general concepts (e.g., declining profits, expansion into new markets).

Second rounds are more particular and focused on two things. One, probing any weaknesses that your first round interview may have shown, and two, ensuring that you’re a good fit in that particular environment/office. That’s part of the reason why first rounds are local (e.g., at your school) and second rounds are on-site (e.g., in the office that wants to hire you). In second rounds, you also meet and interview with more people and typically have contact points across the firm (e.g., with analysts, more seasoned consultants, and partners).

There have been some important changes in my life that I think firms will want to know. How should I update them (if at all)?

This is a popular question. My advice here is to only communicate updates when they are critical to decision-making.

Small GPA increases, school-wide prizes, new leadership positions – not important.

International awards and fellowships, brand-name firm internships – important.

In your update, you must not come across as arrogant. The best way is to send an updated resume to your firm recruiter contact with the following:

“Dear Sir/Madam, I wanted to send you an updated resume for my file. I recently received the Harry Truman Scholarship for public service and wanted that to reflect in my record. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks!”

I’m still too young to apply for management consulting jobs but want to get a head start. What types of jobs teach you the skills that will be helpful in consulting?

Anything business-oriented where you can show the following things: the ability to manage people and teams; capacity to learn sophisticated concepts; ability to drive measurable impact in your team/group/division. The firm’s brand-equity is important (eg, Goldman Sachs is more valued than Wachovia).

After several years in finance, I’ve decided to transition into consulting. How do I start?

No direct experience here, but the parallel/experienced hire process is similar across professions. It’s best to have “internal champions” – those within your target firm that forward your resume to recruiters internally, write positive recommendations, help get the ball rolling. Headhunters play a role – but less so in management consulting than in private equity/hedge funds. Reach out to your extended network and generate contacts. Talk to peers/colleagues that have made similar transitions. And keep me posted as this is one area I need to understand better and share with readers.

How do you find boutique consulting firms to see if they’re a good fit for you?

Tough question. Unlike investment banking, there is no centralized database of boutique consulting firms. They’re tough to define (since there are countless one-man consulting shops). The Vault Guide to the Top 50 Management and Strategy Consulting Firms, 2009 Edition is a good start. Google Search is another resource. Finally, there are many forums where you can receive advice (WallStreetOasis Consulting Cabaret and Vault Consulting Message Boards among them). I’ll be writing a short article on good consulting forums soon.

A reader recently posted data on their post-MBA salary/signing bonus offer at a major consulting firm. It’s lower than the data in my salary post so I wanted to share below:

“I accepted an offer this year with a top Consulting Company (post MBA in June) for $115 base, 20% bonus, and $10K signing. Consulting companies are not offering starting packages this year as high as they did the in the past 3 years. I expect to catch up in the next few years as times get better.”

Are thank you letters necessary?

While in finance, they can be optional – I’d strongly recommend writing one in consulting. Why? Because decision-making timeframes are typically longer in consulting; consultants have blackberries and continuous access to email; most interviewers appreciate the gesture and at the very least, it’ll keep your name in their minds for longer.

Thanks for reading! If you’re new, here are some recommended posts: The Consulting Industry 101; Investment Banking vs Management Consulting; Day in the life of a Management Consultant; Overview of the recruiting process. UPCOMING POSTS: Life as a Consultant: Interview with Steve Shu; Great forums and other online resources for current and aspiring consultants; You were turned down. Now what?

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