It used to be that the Rolodex was the sign of prestige for an ad agency executive, newspaper reporter and especially a management consultant. The days of the paper-based organizer are over, but not the importance of a list of contacts, no matter your level of experience in the management consulting industry. Read more about networking…
Starting from Scratch
Let’s say you are making a mid-career correction and want to move into management consulting. You could be about to graduate from university. Either way, the number of people you know with jobs in the management consulting industry is likely to be slight, if not zero.
That is not a problem. If you are on LinkedIn or Facebook or any other networking site, do searches for management consulting firms. You’re likely to find that within one or two degrees of separation, there are consultants. If you are still in school, consider asking your career counselor for alumni in the sector.
Making Every Meeting Count
Whether you are making a cold e-mail to someone who is a friend of a friend, or you research local career fairs and meet-ups from top firms, you don’t want to waste your time.
In fact, you should always open with your name, why you’re making the contact and what makes you interested in the field. This should not take more than two sentences, at a maximum.
If you’ve ever worked in a people-oriented position, you may already know this: The best way to get someone to open up is to ask them to give you their expert opinion. Everyone wants to be respected for what they’ve accomplished, and it eases the process.
One interesting strategy that may work for people who have a degree in business management or a related field but do not yet have a full-time consulting job is to consider going freelance during the job search.
Look for start-up firms on your favorite job search engine, as well as on online freelance bidding sites. Offer to use your skills and experience to solve a short-term problem. This will give you a practical case study to use in interviews, a reference or even a possibility of connections to other consultants.
The Bottom Line
Whichever path you decide to take, you should make a point of enriching your list of contacts, proving your experience and leveraging the experience of others are all key parts of the job search. Failing to utilize these resources is as egregious an error as sending a poorly-edited cover letter or resume to the firm where you want to start or continue your career.