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Francesco

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8

Applying to McKinsey in Switzerland: needing referral?

Hi all,

I am applying to a McKinsey office in Switzerland as an analyst (entry level). I have a Bachelor’s degree in Life Sciences and will obtain my Master’s in Life Sciences in a few months from the same university. The university is not a target school per se (I don’t know what really qualifies as target schools in Europe) but it’s the only state university in the city where the McKinsey office I am applying to is.

I don’t have exactly outstanding grades although I have an interesting story: I cofounded a family business in my home country a few years ago and I still run it. I learnt a lot about business from my experience and I have been very intensively self-teaching every single aspect of business administration these last years through college textbooks and online platforms like edX. I basically did my own MBA (minus the group case studies) using all the resources I could find. I have no proof that I have this kind of knowledge other than a MicroMasters I earned recently on edX.

I have been told by many people that although my story could be interesting, my profile is not that solid given my average grades and that without a referral I would never get past the CV screen. McKinsey has no relationship with my university, no networking events and we don’t even have our own consulting club. I don’t personally know anyone in McKinsey, so I’ve been trying for the last 3 weeks to get in touch with McKinsey people on LinkedIn using cold messages asking them for a very brief phone call to ask them a few questions, but I haven’t had any good results (I have messaged 150 + people, they mostly read without answering or they tell me to contact someone else).

I really need some advice, especially on how to get a referral and Ireally need one. Also, if anyone here works at McKinsey and is willing to give me 10 minutes of their time for a quick phone call it would be lifesaving. I can provide my CV/CL in PMs or any other clarifications or details.

Sorry for the long post and thanks a lot.

Hi all,

I am applying to a McKinsey office in Switzerland as an analyst (entry level). I have a Bachelor’s degree in Life Sciences and will obtain my Master’s in Life Sciences in a few months from the same university. The university is not a target school per se (I don’t know what really qualifies as target schools in Europe) but it’s the only state university in the city where the McKinsey office I am applying to is.

I don’t have exactly outstanding grades although I have an interesting story: I cofounded a family business in my home country a few years ago and I still run it. I learnt a lot about business from my experience and I have been very intensively self-teaching every single aspect of business administration these last years through college textbooks and online platforms like edX. I basically did my own MBA (minus the group case studies) using all the resources I could find. I have no proof that I have this kind of knowledge other than a MicroMasters I earned recently on edX.

I have been told by many people that although my story could be interesting, my profile is not that solid given my average grades and that without a referral I would never get past the CV screen. McKinsey has no relationship with my university, no networking events and we don’t even have our own consulting club. I don’t personally know anyone in McKinsey, so I’ve been trying for the last 3 weeks to get in touch with McKinsey people on LinkedIn using cold messages asking them for a very brief phone call to ask them a few questions, but I haven’t had any good results (I have messaged 150 + people, they mostly read without answering or they tell me to contact someone else).

I really need some advice, especially on how to get a referral and Ireally need one. Also, if anyone here works at McKinsey and is willing to give me 10 minutes of their time for a quick phone call it would be lifesaving. I can provide my CV/CL in PMs or any other clarifications or details.

Sorry for the long post and thanks a lot.

(edited)

8 answers

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Book a coaching with Francesco

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Hi there,

A couple of notes on your post:

  1. LinkedIn is not the best way to connect to find a referral. Emails work a lot better and it is pretty easy to find the email of someone on the internet
  2. The message you sent probably needs some editing given the lack of response
  3. You have to follow some specific steps to land a referral.
    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:

  • As mentioned, 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 on the company
  • A closing question for the referral. It should be an indirect request to avoid to be too pushy

Before the call, you should have your CV and Cover ready – in this way you can send them right away if the person wants to refer you.

If you are interested to know the exact email to write, questions to ask and indirect closing to land the referral, please feel free to PM me.

I do a 30 min session at 50% discount to understand the right steps to get MBB referrals, directly from home – no events participation required.

This includes all the scripts needed for the email to send and the call to have with the consultant.

Following the same process, I managed to get 6 invitations out of 6 applications – including all MBB. I regularly see my mentees getting referrals for MBB with that.

Best,
Francesco

Hi there,

A couple of notes on your post:

  1. LinkedIn is not the best way to connect to find a referral. Emails work a lot better and it is pretty easy to find the email of someone on the internet
  2. The message you sent probably needs some editing given the lack of response
  3. You have to follow some specific steps to land a referral.
    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:

  • As mentioned, 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 on the company
  • A closing question for the referral. It should be an indirect request to avoid to be too pushy

Before the call, you should have your CV and Cover ready – in this way you can send them right away if the person wants to refer you.

If you are interested to know the exact email to write, questions to ask and indirect closing to land the referral, please feel free to PM me.

I do a 30 min session at 50% discount to understand the right steps to get MBB referrals, directly from home – no events participation required.

This includes all the scripts needed for the email to send and the call to have with the consultant.

Following the same process, I managed to get 6 invitations out of 6 applications – including all MBB. I regularly see my mentees getting referrals for MBB with that.

Best,
Francesco

Book a coaching with Florian

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Hi there,

While Francesco wrote an excellent and valuable post, I would like to disagree with one point.

That is reaching out via email. Yes, you can guess a person's company email easily and send them a message (name.surname @ firmname.com). Yet, I found it always awkward when strangers directly contacted me on my McK address without any prior contact.

Emails by strangers are generally treated with great suspicion in MBB and are often part of phishing attempts or similar. This is even more the case when you include an attachment such as a resume. Obviously, once you get a business card, this changes.

That being said, I actually preferred people (cold) reaching out via Linkedin. That way it was less intrusive and more accepted by the firm. Also, it was more on a level playing field, because I could see the person was authentic and likely real.

In general, consultants are a very helpful bunch and will most often help you on your journey if you are reasonable, polite, not intrusive, and not ask for favors or recommendations right away.

Kind regards,

Florian

Hi there,

While Francesco wrote an excellent and valuable post, I would like to disagree with one point.

That is reaching out via email. Yes, you can guess a person's company email easily and send them a message (name.surname @ firmname.com). Yet, I found it always awkward when strangers directly contacted me on my McK address without any prior contact.

Emails by strangers are generally treated with great suspicion in MBB and are often part of phishing attempts or similar. This is even more the case when you include an attachment such as a resume. Obviously, once you get a business card, this changes.

That being said, I actually preferred people (cold) reaching out via Linkedin. That way it was less intrusive and more accepted by the firm. Also, it was more on a level playing field, because I could see the person was authentic and likely real.

In general, consultants are a very helpful bunch and will most often help you on your journey if you are reasonable, polite, not intrusive, and not ask for favors or recommendations right away.

Kind regards,

Florian

(edited)

Short answer: yes a referral will be useful. Try to find second connections via LinkedIn of good friends if you don't have first level connections, and ask them nicely.

Short answer: yes a referral will be useful. Try to find second connections via LinkedIn of good friends if you don't have first level connections, and ask them nicely.

Book a coaching with Iman

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Hi,

Adding to the other coaches input, I would also try to look in LinkedIn for people that work in McKinsey that have connection with your personal network. You can then ask your personal network to introduce you to the McKinsey person.

Best,
Iman

Hi,

Adding to the other coaches input, I would also try to look in LinkedIn for people that work in McKinsey that have connection with your personal network. You can then ask your personal network to introduce you to the McKinsey person.

Best,
Iman

Book a coaching with Clara

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Hello!

I believe indeed you can get some juicy stories for FIT with your business background.

Furthermore, agree with the referrals being a very good way to smoothen the process. In line with other coaches comments, why don´t you post here what you are sending? Try also to reach at least 2nd degree contacts.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

Hello!

I believe indeed you can get some juicy stories for FIT with your business background.

Furthermore, agree with the referrals being a very good way to smoothen the process. In line with other coaches comments, why don´t you post here what you are sending? Try also to reach at least 2nd degree contacts.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

Book a coaching with Ian

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Hi there,

I have a few tips based on what I've read:

1) Now may not be the time. It sounds like you're trying to force McKinsey before "earning" it. It may be worth thinking through "What do I need to do to be appealing to McKinsey?"

To do this, get internships and jobs where you have real responsibilities and progress through the ranks, get certifications, training, and skills that add value.

2) Review your networking tactics. It also sounds like your messages are not particularly well crafted. What do you normally send? Do you find people that at least have a similar background to you that you can relate to? Or, do your messages look spammy/non-tailored? Do you have grammar/spelling mistakes?

Hi there,

I have a few tips based on what I've read:

1) Now may not be the time. It sounds like you're trying to force McKinsey before "earning" it. It may be worth thinking through "What do I need to do to be appealing to McKinsey?"

To do this, get internships and jobs where you have real responsibilities and progress through the ranks, get certifications, training, and skills that add value.

2) Review your networking tactics. It also sounds like your messages are not particularly well crafted. What do you normally send? Do you find people that at least have a similar background to you that you can relate to? Or, do your messages look spammy/non-tailored? Do you have grammar/spelling mistakes?

Book a coaching with Adi

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Hey there,

Plenty of great tips from coaches which I fully agree with.

Dont want to be harsh on you, but I sense a desperate undertone to get into McK. And reading your question, clearly you have a great story to tell. Yes, McK a fantastic brand but not the only option. So if you are feeling pressure (self created obvsiouly), remove it. Have other options going in parallel. The fit has to be both ways- you and the firm.

I once came across someone couple of years ago who made an introductory video (telling their story and why firm X is a great fit and how they could add value) and sent it to contacts via Linkedin. It was very quirky but must admit very impactful as well. Something to consider..not that I am encouraging you to do it but it could be refreshing nonetheless if you pull it off :).

All the best!

Hey there,

Plenty of great tips from coaches which I fully agree with.

Dont want to be harsh on you, but I sense a desperate undertone to get into McK. And reading your question, clearly you have a great story to tell. Yes, McK a fantastic brand but not the only option. So if you are feeling pressure (self created obvsiouly), remove it. Have other options going in parallel. The fit has to be both ways- you and the firm.

I once came across someone couple of years ago who made an introductory video (telling their story and why firm X is a great fit and how they could add value) and sent it to contacts via Linkedin. It was very quirky but must admit very impactful as well. Something to consider..not that I am encouraging you to do it but it could be refreshing nonetheless if you pull it off :).

All the best!

Book a coaching with Gaurav

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Hi there,

networking is definetely the key! Both strategies - personalized emails and LinkedIn - can work, but you should try and decide what works better for you.

Your goal in networking is to schedule a call where you can ask questions.

To ask indirectly about the referral, use something like "do you have any other advice for me?" at the end of the call and let the person decide.

Remember that if you don't have a strong CV and cover letter, a referral won't help either. I suggest you update them before starting networking: you need to have them ready if the call was successful.

Hope it helps. Don't hesitate to contact me if you have some questions left.

Good luck!

GB

Hi there,

networking is definetely the key! Both strategies - personalized emails and LinkedIn - can work, but you should try and decide what works better for you.

Your goal in networking is to schedule a call where you can ask questions.

To ask indirectly about the referral, use something like "do you have any other advice for me?" at the end of the call and let the person decide.

Remember that if you don't have a strong CV and cover letter, a referral won't help either. I suggest you update them before starting networking: you need to have them ready if the call was successful.

Hope it helps. Don't hesitate to contact me if you have some questions left.

Good luck!

GB