How Can I Land a Consulting Position without Relevant Experience?

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Consulting is considered a prestigious career by many business professionals because of its intellectual challenges and financial rewards. Although having prior experience can be an advantage, experience is not an essential requirement to landing a consulting job. However, you need to clearly demonstrate that you have the necessary skills to become a successful management consultant.

Excellent Academic Record

A high GPA is a strong indicator of your potential to add value to a consulting firm. Top-tier firms place a great deal of importance on an applicant’s outstanding academic background. And although possessing a business or finance related degree is a big plus, it is not as important as performance.

If you have an impressive GPA, then you have a better chance of being interviewed. You may also include your standardized test scores in your resume such as LSAT, MCAT, and SAT scores. HIgh marks on such tests demonstrate your strong theoretical skills, which is essential in consulting. Your educational background will help firms assess how equipped you are, even if you don’t have any consulting experience.

Craft an Effective Job Application

An excellent academic record is not enough; you will also need to write an equally impressive cover letter and resume in order to get an interview. Your consulting application should be able to demonstrate that you’re exactly what the firm is looking for. Make sure  that your resume and cover letter clearly exhibit your skills, achievements, and other qualifications significant to consulting. The most critical of these are:

Logical thinking skills As an aspiring consultant, your ability to devise innovative and pragmatic solutions to problems will be put to test. Demonstrate creativity and practical reasoning in your application
Problem-solving skills Great consultants have excellent theoretical, analytical, and practical knowledge. You need to prove to your potential employer that although you don’t have prior consulting experience, you have what it takes to become a good consultant – the passion to solve problems.
Communication skills Be very articulate in your application. Consults communicate with diverse people on a daily basis, so you need to be able to clearly convey your thoughts and ideas. If you showcase your excellent writing skills on your application, it will tell recruiters that you possess good communication skills. Use a confident and professional tone.
Confidence Your consulting application can reveal a lot of things about you, even your personality and character. Top-tier firms are looking for go-getters and confident individuals who can deliver the desired results regardless of the complexity of the situation.
Social skills: As an aspiring consultant, you must demonstrate great people skills. Successful consultants are personable and can easily gain the confidence of those they work with. Solid evidence of your social skills will work to your advantage.
Leadership skills Proven leadership skills will enhance your consulting application. Ensure your resume and cover letter establish your ability to manage and motivate people.
Achiever This is probably the most important characteristic you need to demonstrate in your consulting application. Even if you have no consulting experience, a proven track record of success in your current or previous roles could just land you an interview. Firms are looking for quantifiable achievements, so make sure that your application is results-oriented.

Practice Case Interviews until You are Confident

The case interview is the most dreaded part of the consulting recruitment process. As you have little to no experience in this field, it is imperative that you take the time to practice as many cases as you can. Although there is no fixed amount of time, it is recommended to spend approximately three months preparing for this interview. Only you can actually determine how much time you need, based on your confidence level. It all boils down to your dedication and how much you really want the job.

There are plenty of available resources that can help you prepare. You can try the interactive case interviews provided by top-tier firms like McKinsey, Bain, and BCG. There are also many websites that offer practice case interviews that can help you formulate the right approach to strategy consulting.

It is recommended to practice with a friend, colleague, or professional. Conducting mock interviews will help you hone your critical thinking and communication skills. Simulating the interview will also help you learn how to effectively handle stress during the actual interview.

The Power of Networking

Networking plays a crucial role in management consulting and could be your key to success. Many aspiring consultants overlook this strategy, but at the end of the day, it’s all about connections. The number and quality of your professional network contacts can lead to a consulting job.

Your Goal

In regard to networking for consulting application purposes, your main goals are to be able to make a good impression on consultants who are associated with the recruiting process, collect valuable information about your target firm and its employees, and establish firm contacts who will provide you with relevant advice and potential references.

Your Means

There are many effective ways to harvest potential contacts. You can join industry organizations and attend functions and seminars to meet consultants or professionals who can offer referrals. Online networking through social media is also gaining popularity; take advantage of professional networking sites like LinkedIn and social sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, in order to make connections who will assist you with your career goals.

Although networking takes time, building strong relationships with key people in the consulting industry will definitely help you achieve your goal of landing a job in management consulting. Your contacts can provide you with valuable information about what you need to do to jump start your consulting career.

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