Many want to break into the management consulting industry as it is known to be a lucrative and prestigious field.
However, the competition for aspiring consultants is quite steep. In order for you to be ready to plunge into this highly rewarding profession, you need to take the following steps:
1. Assess your qualifications
Consulting tends to attract intelligent individuals. And yes, grades do matter. One of the key qualifications that firms consider in making initial cuts for interviews is GPA. If you feel that your GPA would be enough to keep you afloat, you need to assess work experience. Real world experience is quite attractive to recruiters.
Generally, the minimum requirement to land a consulting role is a degree in a business discipline related. Although having an MBA is not really required, attaining higher educational background can definitely improve one’s chances.
Qualifications to becoming a management consultant are not only about educational requirements. It also includes the necessary skills to be efficient in the job. If you aspire to become a consultant you must have the required soft and hard skills. Remember, in order to succeed you need not only to showcase your academic prowess, your personality and skill set should match the job.
2. Get ready for the job
After you assess yourself of the key qualifications to have, you should then hone whatever skills you’re still not good at. It is critical to equip yourself with all the required skills such as problem-solving, communication, leadership, presentation, and perhaps some foreign language. So do your research well. Read online, ask some friends, interview people in the field, and just read all the materials about consulting you can find.
It is important that you are fully prepared in all aspects too, not just in skill set. Also research what to expect from the job, as well as familiarize yourself with typical consulting job cycle and lifestyle.
3. Prepare an impeccable resume and cover letter
You may have all the required qualifications, but if you weren’t able to present them effectively, they would be useless. Your resume and cover letter need to be impressive in order to make a good impression. Preparing application documents for a consulting job requires you to provide quantifiable achievements. To really stand out you need to convey your pertinent accomplishments that are relevant to consulting. Also, it is important that you establish that you possess all the skills necessary to excel in this industry. Cite proven examples of your strong problem-solving, communication, leadership skills. However, be as concise as possible. Use bullet points in your resume to keep in to two pages maximum, and keep your letter to a single page.
4. Network your way to the top
This may sound cliché, but networking can really help you achieve your career goals. Make sure you build a strong professional relationship with key people in your target firm and even with other professionals in the industry as well. Take advantage of networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. Also try to reach out to your school alumni contacts that currently work in the consulting industry. You may also ask your friends for referrals. Your main goal is to get well connected to as many valuable contacts as possible. By doing this, you’ll increase your chances of being referred to HR officers and current consultants.
5. Have an internship and do well in it
If you can make your way to an internship program at a consulting firm, then it will help you further reach your career goal. You can gain several benefits. Two of the most important are: you’ll get to experience the real lifestyle of a consultant, and you’ll have the opportunity to receive a full-time offer after. So do not take an internship for granted. It will not only give you a more realistic description of the consulting world, but can provide an opportunity for you to gain an edge before the actual screening process even begins.
6. Prepare hard for case interviews
Case interview is known to be the hardest part of the consulting recruiting process. With that in mind, you need to start your preparation as early as possible. This will enable you to practice on many different types of cases.
If you were able to get an internship, it would help in your preparation as you already have a hands-on business experience. Also, there are plenty of resources online out there that can help you study for the dreaded case interview. Many firms even provide practice case studies on their websites. Take advantage of these resources and once you feel you’re ready, try doing some mock interviews. Yes, mock interview is very much recommended to really gauge your preparedness. However, only conduct mock interviews with qualified people so you can ask for feedback and further improve.
7. Look professional
Strong academic records, proven skills and achievements, flawless application documents, real world experience, and passion for consulting are all important to land a management consulting role. However, do not forget a tiny but equally important detail – the way you look. Prepare not only your application documents and answers to interviews. Also take the time to look professional. Make sure you attend your interviews in proper business attire. Avoid wearing flashy outfits and accessories.
For more tips about breaking into the consulting industry, you can check out Consultingfact.com, an online resource for aspiring management consultants. We provide comprehensive guides on the entire consulting recruiting process – from writing applications down to networking and case interviews.