How to get the management consultancy job interview you really want

A few lucky people bounce from a great management consultancy job to an even greater job… “when the head-hunter called it was too good an opportunity to turn down”. For most of us, however, a career move means applying for jobs.

As our Job Search Survey reveals, many management consultancy job applicants find this a time consuming, frustrating and dehumanising experience. However they may unwittingly contribute to the ordeal by missing out on some key actions.

Here’s Prism’s 8 point checklist:

1. Be clear about what type of consulting role and employer you are targetting

You may in practice have more than one area of interest. However, in general, it is best to have a “major”. Be realistic and make sure your goals are in line with your experience and career to date i.e. a natural progression. That will make it much easier for employers to say “yes” to interview. If you are hoping for a career shift or realignment then this might lend itself to utilising your network and contacts rather than specific job applications. Advertised jobs and the jobs recruitment agencies are working on tend to be orientated around finding round pegs for round holes.

2. Make sure your CV AND LinkedIn is optimised for the sort of management consultancy job you want

It’s perfectly legitimate to emphasise certain strengths and experiences as long as you aren’t misleading or fibbing. Your CV and LinkedIn should complement each other. Be aware that if anyone is interested in you from reading your CV, the next thing they will do is look at LinkedIn. If your LinkedIn profile is different from your CV, or out of date, or you perhaps don’t even have one, then that’s a red flag. You are much less likely to get called in for an interview. Make sure you put yourself in the position of the hiring manager or recruiter who might be reading them. A great LinkedIn profile should have recruiters contacting you of course!

3. Do your research on how to write a good CV and LinkedIn profile

This is not the same point as above: this is about the presentation of you, your skills and experience to make it easy for the decision-maker to quickly work out what you’re about and, of course, to say yes! It is a good idea to tailor a CV for the management consulting job you are applying for. However it’s not worth spending hours on it. Bear in mind a CV reviewer will skim read, looking for overall fit and also keywords/phrases so often this is just quickly ensuring that the points in “essential requirements” are featured in your summary and recent role(s). Also, keep in mind that your tweaked CV still has to look broadly similar to LinkedIn as you can’t change LinkedIn every time you apply for a job.

When you’ve finished crafting the CV and LinkedIn check and re-check for errors (especially typos) and ask advice from people you trust about their impact.

4. Carefully consider your target market and your “go to market” strategy

There may be literally only half a dozen employers you want to work for. The approach in that situation will be radically different from where the potential employer base is much larger. In the latter case, you need to ensure the widest brim for your prospects funnel. This will include alerting your network and contacts. Also add your profile and CV to a range of relevant job boards and registering with reputable and relevant agencies. The purpose is to maximise the volume of relevant roles i.e. to give you the opportunity to apply to roles in which you are interested and have the best chance of getting to interview.

5. Only apply for jobs where you meet all the essential or “must-have” criteria

6. Only apply for jobs where you meet all the essential or “must-have” criteria

This isn’t a mistake and the point has been repeated deliberately. The vast majority of applicants to management consulting jobs, in our experience, fail to meet one or more of the mandatory requirements. The recruiter has put those in for one reason and one reason only. Alas they are not going to spontaneously change their mind because of your otherwise very interesting CV or persuasive covering letter. It just doesn’t happen. If there is genuine ambiguity certainly apply but don’t ignore the red lines if you want to get an interview.

7. DO apply for management consulting jobs where you don’t meet the “desirable” or “nice to have” criteria!

If a job says “Fluent French desirable” or “advantageous” do not assume you will be beaten by many other better applicants. If you are otherwise on target definitely apply and do not be put off.

8. Don’t call to speak to the recruiter/hiring manager unless the advertisement suggests you do so

A good management consultancy role may have a large number of applicants. The recruiter will not welcome calls both for reasons of time and because they may not be able or willing to give more information than is in the advertisement. So a call or message is most unlikely to increase your chances. In fact more likely to do the reverse! It is, however, legitimate to politely message or email someone if after a few days you don’t get an acknowledgement or reply, enquiring whether they’ve received your CV and whether you are able to assist them with any further information.

Good luck!

We have more advice and help with your job search on our Candidate Services page including CV writing, and updating your LinkedIn profile. We also have a comprehensive guide to answering a range of interview questions you may encounter.

See our Vacancies page for a selection of our current vacancies.

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