Timing The Recruiting Calendar

by Jaineel Aga

This chapter is a free excerpt from The Best Book on Getting Consulting Jobs In India.

Highlights:
  • Timing your application to consulting firms' recruitment calendars increases your chances of being hired.
  • Firms will often choose to pass up even an outstanding candidate if the application comes in at the wrong time.
  • Recruitment calendars can vary with different regions of the world.
Without paying attention to recruiting calendars, your application and your career can end up in the wrong place at the wrong time – the opposite of where you want to be. Knowing how to time the recruiting calendars can be the difference between employment and being confused about why you didn't get a call back.

Why Firms Hire Only For Small Periods

It can seem unfair that firms might not be hiring at the perfect time for your graduation or when you start looking for them, but they do this for a reason, and it's important for you to adjust.

A global consulting firm like McKinsey, BCG, or Parthenon runs a high-level business operation in which each employee needs to be top-notch. To make sure that happens, they need to make sure their training processes are as high-efficiency and high-quality as possible. Allowing new recruits to trickle in over the course of a year leaves a company with raw recruits every 2-3 months instead of all at once.

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Highlights:
  • Timing your application to consulting firms' recruitment calendars increases your chances of being hired.
  • Firms will often choose to pass up even an outstanding candidate if the application comes in at the wrong time.
  • Recruitment calendars can vary with different regions of the world.
Without paying attention to recruiting calendars, your application and your career can end up in the wrong place at the wrong time – the opposite of where you want to be. Knowing how to time the recruiting calendars can be the difference between employment and being confused about why you didn't get a call back.

Why Firms Hire Only For Small Periods

It can seem unfair that firms might not be hiring at the perfect time for your graduation or when you start looking for them, but they do this for a reason, and it's important for you to adjust.

A global consulting firm like McKinsey, BCG, or Parthenon runs a high-level business operation in which each employee needs to be top-notch. To make sure that happens, they need to make sure their training processes are as high-efficiency and high-quality as possible. Allowing new recruits to trickle in over the course of a year leaves a company with raw recruits every 2-3 months instead of all at once.

Instead, companies recruit for 2-3 month periods in which they make almost all of their hires for an entire year (with only extremely rare exceptions). This lets them send entire recruiting classes to training sessions together, training all of them at once.

There's 1 more major benefit for them: hiring all of their recruits at once lets them better compare recruits to each other. With recruits gaining their initial assignments at the same time and moving through the training sequence together, it's easier for them to see who is really distinguishing himself or herself and who is lagging behind.

The Right Place At The Right Time

While many recruiting periods for full-time positions are November to December or November to January, you should be busy with a company long before that. The easiest way to find out a company's recruiting period is to call them directly and ask, but this does something else as well: it gives you your first contact who has actually been hired by the company.

The run-up to the recruitment period is a busy time. Companies will put in appearances at top business schools before their recruiting periods to shake hands, learn names, and start to get an idea from recruitment counselors at the schools of whom they might hire. The period to get a resumé submitted may begin up to a month before the recruitment period.

Having your resumé in early gives the firm more time to look it over. Since consulting firms use as much time as possible to review resumés and make sure they're short-listing the absolute best candidates, having your resumé in at the right time can be a big boon for you.

Know What To Do Based On Where You Live

Where you live affects the recruiting calendar in a big way, not just in terms of countries, but also in terms of regions within a country. At Duke University, for example, without any real governing the order, finance companies, consulting firms, tech companies and consumer products will visit the campus in that order. Being aware of what's going on on campus can keep you from missing out on key opportunities to network.

The U.S., U.K. and India also have different practices. Many practices in the U.S. and India are very similar, but the UK recruitment process is a different animal. Firms in the U.K. have a much less structured recruitment schedule from the U.S. and India.

International firms like McKinsey know the British schedule and tailor it to their Indian schedules for consistency. The important thing is to gain the relevant knowledge about your region, school, country and what company you want to work for to time your application to the right time.
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