Think Outside the Cube: Finding a Career in Consulting

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Posted by Michael K. Norris on June 15, 2011
Think Outside the Cube: Finding a Career in Consulting

Many think consulting is only for young, energetic college or business school graduates. That's not true. While consulting firms do grab a healthy amount of college students, plus a good 30 percent or so of graduates at most B-schools, people with a few years or more of industry experience can find abundant career opportunities in consulting.

How do you break into consulting if you've been in industry? Here's what recruiting leaders at several top management consulting companies told WetFeet you should emphasize when interviewing for consulting jobs out of industry.

Know Why You Want to Be a Consultant

Among the first questions a recruiter will ask is "Why do you want to be a consultant?" If you're bored or frustrated with your current career, be sure you're ready for the unpredictable nature of consulting.

"Candidates need to convey the message they are interested in getting into consulting and understand what the consulting lifestyle is all about," according to a recruiter at BearingPoint.

Showing flexibility in the resume and interview is also essential. "A two-week project can become a six-month project, and vice versa," says Dana Ellis, an Accenture recruiting leader.

Convey Your Project Management Skills and Industry Expertise

Projects in consulting usually have a starting line and a finish line. In making a career change, you'll want to show you've got strong project management skills from your previous work. That's a valuable skill for a consulting firm.

So is your industry expertise. Consulting firms make money on their ability to solve problems. Your knowledge of an industry can help them deliver the value they'd like to deliver to their client. "If you bring to the table the functional knowledge of the industry in which we're doing business," says Michelle Hutton, the human resources manager at AMS. "That's what you want to highlight."

Show Your Inner Consultant

"In consulting, you are resolving other people's conflicts," says Geri Parsons Golemme, a recruiting leader for Arthur D. Little. She adds that people who have been problem-solving or finding solutions in their industries should convey that experience during interviews.

People with industry experience and strong on-the-job skills are in demand at consulting firms, regardless of how long they've been out of school.


Michael K. Norris frequently writes about and analyzes issues related to consulting and e-services.

About the Author

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Michael K. Norris frequently writes about and analyzes issues related to consulting and e-services.