So you want to be a Management Consultant

You’ve decided to become a management consultant. You’re about to graduate and are ready to take on the world. But where do you start?

I’m hoping the following can give you a jump start into your new full time job – getting into one of the world’s most reputable management consulting firms. This guide will be applicable to anyone who’s thinking about transitioning into the management consulting industry.

Understand what we do

The term “management consulting” is often misunderstood and misused. Make sure you learn what it actually means:

  • What do we do?
  • What do the firms look for?
  • What’s your relevant superpower that will have you stand out?

Resume

Management consulting resumes are very different from the norm. From what I’ve observed people often don’t know how to write one even after being told. As someone who’s been through hundreds of resumes you in all likelihood have less than 30 seconds to impress the person you’re dealing with. So make sure what you want to highlight pops from the page. Here are some high level tips for Australians. I know the US has slightly different rules…

General tips:

  • Keep it to 2 pages (even the most accomplished people I know can do this)
  • Always use the STAR approach
  • Format to your strengths
  • Know and advertise your superpower
  • Get someone in the industry to tear it apart

A quick note on the STAR approach
Always use the STAR approach (there are alternative yet similar structures): Situation, Task, Action, Result. Then always lead with a quantifiable result. Compare the two below:

President of FMAA society 2011-2012
Led student society on campus focused on the finance industry. In my time I saw membership double and the worked with my team to increase participation. I also oversaw the addition of three new sponsors

President of FMAA society 2011-2012
– 200% increase in membership through targeting advertising at 1st year students
– Managed $50,000 budget that saw greatest active participation to date
– Signed on 3 new sponsors worth $7,000 each per year, doubling our sponsored funds

I hope you can see that the content is basically the same though the impact for the reader drastically different. The second clearly highlights the quantifiable results first then speaks to how this person accomplished the result. Note the dot point format which doesn’t waste space and clearly says what needs to be said without all the filler words (I’ve hardly written full sentences in my time in management consulting).

Cover Letter

As always, it’s another important opportunity for you to stand out. Make sure you’re not just blabbering because you want to fill a page but put some insightful language around why you’re the best and why you’ll fit into the firms like a hand in glove.

General tips:

  • Keep it to one page
  • Explain your superpower in the context of what’s important for this job
  • No FAFF, just succinct successes explained
  • Find some truly genuine words about why you want join the industry and a firm
  • No spelling mistakes

After a whole day of looking at cover letter two things stand out: structure and originality. Some cover letters just are a brain dump and don’t appear well thought out. Each paragraph should have a different purpose and execute that with precision. The other big boo boo is when a cover letter sounds the same as the hundred before. Everyone ‘loves’ a firm for its reputation and people. Now go a step further and prove you actually know something about the firm.

Case interviews

Management consulting is famous for its case interviews. For those of you brand new to the idea, instead of only asking you behaviourial questions, e.g. “Tell me about a time when…”, your interviewer will ask provide you some brief information about a company and then ask you something like “What should our client do?” It is then up to the interviewee to set up a structure/framework for asking the right set of questions that will get them to the best answer for the client.

The interview is specifically testing skills that consultants use all the time:

  • Developing a structure/framework that guides the answer
  • Quick and accurate math skills
  • Business acumen and common sense
  • Competence under stress and ability to think on your feet

They are not testing for:

  • The ‘right’ answer
  • Knowledge of specific business topics
  • Knowledge of prices, exact figures or facts

Hopefully that helps.  Feel free to ask me something below.

One Comment

  1. I met someone recently who wants to get a job as a management consultant. These are great tips on how to get into the field. I especially like your tips on writing a resume for this specific job. I like the STAR approached and will make sure he uses that. Thanks for all this great information!

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