Applying

Once you’ve decided you want to be a consultant, the next step is to work out how to maximise your chances of getting in. There are several access points:

  • An internship during your degree allows you and the employer to get an idea of each-others style and abilities. This route provides a 70% chance of future employment.
  • Degree entry is commonplace: employers generally, though not exclusively, look for degrees in Engineering, Mathematics and Business Studies.
  • Masters graduates are also an attractive source of recruits. Those with an MBA can often skip the ‘analyst’ level and go straight in as a consultant, or a senior consultant if they have relevant work experience.
  • Experienced hires are welcomed in consultancies, as it is the ‘middle management’ level where talent is often lacking. However, recruits need either to have expertise in a sector or skill type that is in great demand or to be able to bring a network of senior client buyers with them. Preferably both.
The selection process itself, as one would expect, is vigorous and exacting. A series of interviews and assessments is usual, often including the “Behavioural” or “Competence-based” interview. This is designed and executed (often by a third party) to establish competencies in key areas. These include logical, “common sense” thinking and explanation, mirroring the modus operandi of the job that lies ahead for the successful candidate. In assessments and interviews, preparation, rehearsal, anticipation of the interview format and a clear, structured delivery are crucial.

Smaller consultancies are a good place to begin, and there are significant resources to identify and filter these. Some individuals may take the bold step and establish their own consultancies, but this should only be attempted by those possessing a clearly definable niche skill with a market demand, having “cut their teeth” and gained the relevant experience beforehand.

The application and selection processes are explained in more detail here….

Once the position has been secured, there is naturally a hierarchy to fit into, and the terms that describe the various roles vary from organisation to organisation. A very simple summary is that the ANALYSTS and CONSULTANTS do the work, the ASSOCIATES and PROJECT LEADERS monitor the ongoing quality while the PARTNERS or DIRECTORS function as salespeople to bring in new business. These functions are sometimes referred to as the “GRINDERS”, “MINDERS” and “FINDERS“.

Salaries are generally high, but vary considerably. Benefits are also generally competitive and attractive, but the intangibles of experience gained, networks joined and contacts made are arguably every bit as important for career development.

To conclude, consulting is a very varied industry with enough niche areas to suit a wide demographic. It is generally well paid, but like any other professional career, hard work and commitment are pre-requisites. As much care should be taken over the management of a career as for any individual project.

Links

Example Resumes

Webinar on the Case Method (one hour)