Am I applying too early? (London: Move from IB to Consulting)

Advice career advice Change Career MBB
New answer on Sep 13, 2022
5 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Sep 13, 2022

I've been doing a lot of reading/networking/researching and I've been keen to currently get out of the current role/path that I'm in.

I joined investment banking about 12 months ago - right after graduating from a semi-target - and feel as though I've already hit an impasse where I'm not necessarily enjoying the work that I'm doing or the people that I do it with. 

Conversations with consultants across the MBB spectrum have been far more exciting and the role just seems much more suited to me than Investment Banking. 

I've been applying (especially now that in September applications are wide open for the three firms) and haven't really been hearing back, or if I have, it's been bad news. 

 

I graduated with a 2:1 from a top 5 university in the UK (but not a target in consulting as far as I'm aware) and completed internships every summer throughout my academic breaks, in addition to having a multitude of experiences before university and simultaneously (working part-time). 

 

I'm nowhere near arrogant enough to feel as though I should make it pass the screening rounds, though I don't seem to be making it past them. 

 

Am I just out of luck? Or, am I applying too early and I should wait until I can when I'm an experienced hire? 

 

Grateful to hear any advice!

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Francesco
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replied on Sep 13, 2022
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

Sorry to hear about the initial rejections. In terms of your question:

Q: Am I just out of luck? Or, am I applying too early and I should wait until I can when I'm an experienced hire?

Actually it’s not really luck (well, luck could play a role. But not as much as you may think). There is a process to get into MBB / Consulting. 

To optimize that process, you need to work on 3 things: a great CV, a great Cover and a referral.

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1) CV

The key elements they will look for and that you can optimize are:

  • University brand
  • Major
  • GPA
  • Work experience
  • Experience abroad
  • Extracurriculars and volunteer experience

The fact you don't have consulting experience is not a problem if you structure your CV correclty.

Red flags include:

  • Low GPA
  • Lack of any kind of work experience
  • Bad formatting / typos
  • 3-4 pages length
  • Lack of clear action --> results structure for the bullets of the experiences
  • Long paragraphs (3-4 lines) for the bullets of the experiences with irrelevant details
  • Long time gaps without any explanation

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2) COVER LETTER

You can structure a cover in 4 parts:

  1. Introduction, mentioning the position you are interested in and a specific element you find attractive for that company
  2. Why you are qualified for the job, where you can report 3 skills/stories from your CV, ideally related to leadership, impact, drive and teamwork
  3. Why you are interested in that particular firm, with additional 1-2 specific reasons
  4. Final remarks, mentioning again your interest and contacts

In part 2 you can write about experiences that show skills useful in consulting such as drive, problem-solving, leadership, teamwork and convincing others.

It is important that in part 3 you make your cover specific to a particular firm – the rule of thumb is, can you send the exact same cover to another consulting company if you change the name? If that’s the case, your cover is too generic.

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3) REFERRALS

This is probably the most important point, in particular if your CV is already good (it seems it is from what you shared).

To find a referral, you should follow three main steps:

  1. Identify the people that can help you
  2. Write them a customized email
  3. Have a call and indirectly ask for a referral

As general tips:

  • Don’t use LinkedIn for your communication – emails work better. You should target 30% conversion for your messages; if you are not achieving that, there is space for improvement
  • When sending emails, your goal should be to organize a call, not to ask questions – you can then use the call for the questions
  • You need to close the call with an indirect request for a referral – don’t leave that to chances. There are specific ways to phrase it

You should prepare three main things before the call:

  • Your own pitch. 3-4 lines should be enough
  • 3-4 questions on the personal experiences of the person. Avoid to ask questions about the company
  • A closing question for the referral. It should be an indirect request to avoid being too pushy

You can find more information on networking and referrals here:

▶ How to Get an MBB Invitation 

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If you need more help please feel free to PM me.

Best,

Francesco

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Ian
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Content Creator
replied on Sep 13, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

You're not too early! You may as well try now - if it doesn't work you can have another go next year.

Importantly, please make sure you're doing extensive networking (and ideally have a referral) before you apply). Also, get your resume professionally reviewed to ensure it's optimal.

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Emily
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replied on Sep 13, 2022
Ex McKinsey EM & interviewer (5 yrs) USA & UK| Coached / interviewed 200 +|Free 15 min intro| Stanford MBA|Non-trad

So a few thoughts:

  1. You're not applying ‘too early’ - you can move into consulting at any point and it's better to move when you realise that you're not happy vs., waiting it out; 
  2. It's harder to apply when you're not fresh out of university. You need to have your name recognised by the recruiting team - I suggest in the first instance reaching out to the recruiting teams at the companies that you have not heard back from to let them know who you are; that you've applied; that you'd like to know if there's anything that you need to do as you're not applying in campus recruiting; 
  3. If you can get a referral at any of these firms from a consultant you've met, even better;
  4. It sounds like your CV could do with some work  if you've been rejected from some. Happy to have a look if helpful.

Keep on going - it's horrible to have a knock but that doesn't mean that the job is not for you! Good luck!

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Nauman
Expert
replied on Sep 13, 2022
Experienced BCG (UK) alum with several years of consulting experience pivoting to Big Tech BizOps & Strategy

Hey there,

Firstly, I think you have some great experience! During my time at BCG (UK), two Consultants in my cohort were from IB and both mentioned similar stories as you as to why they went into consulting. Both have done amazingly well in Consulting and a lot of the hard skills are very transferrable (modelling, presentations, project management etc.) 

Lateral moves are always harder within consulting (especially MBB). Here's a few things I would recommend looking into:

 

1. Resume - Is your resume tailored for Management Consulting? Is it impact based? Are you highlighting projects relevant to Consulting? - I'd be happy to review your resume, if you'd like 

 

2. Networking: Are you connected with MBB consultants (especially those with IB backgrounds)? This is a great way to get familiarized with the transition and also possibly get a referral

3. Practice Area: MBB all have Private Equity practices where an IB background can be a plus. Have you looked into these practices in all three firms? The best way to get in is to sell yourself on your current ability (once you're in it's typically easier to change practice areas if you're a good performer)

 

I would say that you shouldn't give up. Get more tactical with your approach rather than just applying and expecting an interview to come through. It sounds like you have a great background. It's now more about polishing your application and ensuring you have some visibility across all three firms.

Happy to chat further, if you'd like. Best of luck!

Nauman

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Florian
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replied on Sep 13, 2022
#1 rated McKinsey Case and PEI Coach | 5 years at McKinsey | Mentorship Approach | 120+ McK offers in 18 months

Hi there,

Based on your information, you should be able to breach past the screening stage with MBB. It is definitely not too early, provided you 

  • make your resume stand out
  • network in advance and score referrals

Happy to have a quick look at the resume to guide you here.

Cheers,

Florian

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Francesco gave the best answer

Francesco

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