This article is aimed at the working professional – AKA “experienced hire” in consulting-speak – who is looking to transition into consulting from a full-time role in industry. Here are 4 specific tips you can apply to your journey today.
4 Tips for Experienced Hires to Break Into Consulting
You, as a working professional, don’t have the same avenues into consulting as an undergraduate, Masters, or advanced degree candidate. You don’t have recruiting events through your school where you network with firms and submit your application through a school-specific portal.
This means you need a strategic approach – and a good dose of gumption – if you’re serious about making it into consulting. It won’t be easy, but the path is not complicated if you follow our guidance. Well, let’s stop waffling – below are our best tips.
#1: “Consultify” your resume
Consulting resumes are different from your standard Curriculum Vitae. Experienced candidates – especially with 10+ years experience – have a longer work history. This can result in muddied stories, leading to your resume ending up on the “rejected” pile because your career story is too convoluted and firms can’t grasp how your experience fits in with the work they do.
The challenge is to emphasize what’s most relevant – in both experience and skills – to the role you’re applying for. This often means cutting out experience that doesn’t add to the story you’re trying to tell.
The good news? We can help. Engage with us via custom resume and cover letter edits. We’ll perform 2 rounds of line-by-line edits on your application materials, creating a submission-worthy consulting resume.
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#2: Networking is not optional
Firms aren’t coming to you – you need to go to them. Here’s what you need to do:
- On LinkedIn, find folks inside your target firms in the position you’re applying for.
- Reach out via email (find the email format for 250+ firms here) asking for a 15min phone conversation. In your email, you need to be super specific and explicit – and don’t share your resume!
- On the phone call, your goal is to get a referral to an interview. So – ask. Simple, but not easy.
- Once you have at least one referral per office you’re targeting, you can then fill out an application via the firm’s online portal.
- Rinse and repeat until you achieve success. We’ve heard stories of folks reaching out to 50+ people before reaching the right one(s) – don’t give up!
Find more detailed networking guidance here.
#3: Apply for the right role
Match your work experience with the right role. For example, if you have 5+ years experience working in software design and programming, you may be more suited to a role as a Senior Software Engineer at McKinsey than a generalist position. Or, if your career has been spent working in data analytics, you’ll have a better chance of landing a job as a Data Scientist rather than the Senior Consultant role.
The point is: your career story needs to match with the role you’re applying for. Most firms, especially MBB, have a large number of specialist roles on their careers pages. See if you can find the role that best fits your experience.
If you want to chat with an MBB coach about your career arc and where you would fit best inside of consulting, book a 30min session here.
#4 Start preparing for interviews now
If you apply and land an interview, turnaround times between the invite and the interview are notoriously short. Don’t be caught flat-footed – start preparing now.
The case interview is the toughest interview you’ll likely ever face – take our word for it. Thousands of candidates have been stonewalled by it over the years, and the unprepared or under-prepared regret not investing more into their preparation. Lucky for you, we’ve seen just about everything there is to see when it comes to consulting interviews.
Below is our condensed prep plan, assuming you are 4-6 weeks out from your interview. The only thing that will get you ready is out-loud practice with an expert. Get started here.
- Start with Market Sizing questions. Do 2x/day for 5 days, or 10 questions in total.
- Read or watch and do-along 5 cases. Our podcast and YouTube channels are excellent resources for this step.
- Do a diagnostic interview with an expert. They will assess where you’re at – the good, bad, and ugly – and tell you how you can address your weaknesses and make your strengths shine. One option for this stage: work with our team of ex-MBB coaches.
- Do 10 cases twice. Our popular Case Library will help and is included in our Black Belt interview prep program.
- Do drills to bridge the gap between your strengths and your weaknesses. We have a variety of case drills – from structure to math to market sizing to exhibits – included in our Black Belt program.
If you are looking to lateral into consulting as a working professional, it can be done – if you follow the path we laid out. Have questions about your specific situation? Write us!