What Are My Chances Of Getting Into Consulting?

by Jaineel Aga

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

What was your profile?

Which college did you go to?

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What was your profile?

Which college did you go to?

What courses did you take?

The answers to the above questions will depend on whom you're speaking. Many consultants may have profiles like IIT-IIM . Others may come from Stanford, Harvard or Cambridge. Some of them have been recruited after working in industry, some have come because they represented a country in the Olympics (personally, I'm privileged to know one such tennis player). The question that now haunts you is

With my profile and experience what are my chances of breaking into consulting?

Is it worth going through the practice case rounds and doing what's proposed on this website? Is it practical to pursue given your profile? Do you stand a chance?

The answer to the last question is yes and no.

This website has been created to help you put your best foot forward; it's been created to help you carve your way into consulting. I certainly won't sell sunshine and promise that anyone and everyone could make it into consulting. In fact, consulting is not for everyone! Imagine a world full of consultants (I'm very critical of my kind!); some of the best consultants will fail to write complex codes that define some of the greatest applications of  today. Most consultants don't have the patience to doggedly pursue research a molecular structure for 5 years.  Most consultants don't understand fine arts the way many arts students do! Consultants do something very well; although it's something that can be acquired, it's also important to note that some people are natural consultants.  Evaluate your fit in consulting.

Here are some key questions to ask yourself:
  1. Do  you have good quantitative skills? Do math and logic come naturally to you?
  2. Are you generally a confident person who doesn't mind being in the spotlight and speaking to a group?
  3. Are you a driven person who always wants to excel, be it in academics or sports?
  4. Do you have good communication skills?
  5. Are you an energetic person?
  6. Do you like structure in your daily life or do you like the thrill of taking each hour as it comes?
  7. Do you prefer working in teams or by yourself ? How would you take upward feedback from your subordinates?
  8. Do you like working with numbers in Excel and making graphs in Powerpoint?
  9. Are you able to analyze a situation and adapt to it quickly?
  10. Are you comfortable with white lies?
If the answer to most of the questions is a yes, you certainly have the personality to be a management consultant. The problem that most Indian professionals face is that they don't necessarily have the right work experience or credentials to interview with management consulting firms.

Here are some of the key metrics that will alter your chances of getting that coveted interview with a management consulting firm:
  1. Academic Brand - The academic institute from where you graduated - undergrad or grad degree--especially if you're a young professional with fewer than 5 years of work experience.
  2. Referrals - Lets be honest, if the MD or Partner at my firm sent me a resume, I would interview the candidate. If you already have strong contacts and referrals, leverage them.
  3. Work Experience - Depending on the level at which you are applying this is probably the most important criteria:
  • If you're a young college graduate with < 2 years of work experience, your work experience should include your first job as well as your internships, projects and other similar "fresh graduate" type of work experience.
  • If you're someone with 2-5 years of experience, show how you'll be able to transfer your skill sets to consulting and provide "thought leadership" to manage your work stream as well as analysts under you.
  • If you are someone with > 5 years of experience,  demonstrate your project management, client management and selling skills in your work experience.
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