Top consulting firms are generally meritocratic organizations, and the candidates who perform the best during the recruitment process get in. However, there is a catch: with so many people applying to consulting firms in Singapore, recruiters have to prioritize and are unable to give each application the attention it deserves. You might be a valedictorian, head of your school’s consulting club, and founder of a non-profit, but you will not progress to the next round if your resume is discarded by the recruiter. The solution? Referrals!
When you are referred by someone in the firm you are targeting, the recruiter will pay extra attention to your profile as the referrer has personally vouched for you. This greatly increases your chance of progressing to the next round, assuming your profile and application documents are decent.
Getting a referral is important for aspiring consultants from both target and non-target schools but is way more important for the latter group as you will not have your school name to catch the attention of the recruiter. To get a referral, you need to network, and there are several ways you can do this.
Check your personal network to see if you know anyone in the firm you are targeting. If you do, reach out to them about your intent to apply, and they might very well offer to refer you (if they know you well enough). Second-degree connections may also work, but you will most likely need to build a connection with the said person first.
Aspiring consultants from target schools can leverage the myriad of networking events throughout the year to get a referral to their desired firm. Top consulting firms regularly organize company presentations, coffee chats, and even dinners to court potential recruits. If you are from a target school, be sure to attend these sessions and start building a relationship with the consultants present.
Not everyone is lucky enough to be from a target school; if top consulting firms do not come to your school (or if you have already graduated), you can still go to them. With the competition for talent becoming increasingly intense (check out our article on consulting industry trends in 2022 to learn more), some firms are opening up their informational sessions to the public. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the firms in question and network with their consultants.
If the above options are not available to you or they did not help you secure a referral, then the only option left to you is to cold contact current consultants. The filtering system of LinkedIn is very helpful in filtering for consultants working at your target firms. Once identified, it is a matter of reaching out to them and setting up a call to learn more about them and their firms, as well as to build rapport. Not all cold outreaches will result in calls, and not all calls will result in referrals; however, if you have the correct system of doing this and you contact enough potential leads, your chances of getting a referral should be quite high.
Networking for a referral is not an easy task, and you might end up without results. In this case, it is important to remember that, while it helps, a referral is not a must. To learn more about the details of referrals at top firms and how to better network your way to one, we recommend checking out our article on the topic.