Boutique to tier 2 after 1-2 years?

boutique LEK reapply
New answer on Jan 04, 2021
6 Answers
Anonymous A asked on Dec 30, 2020

I started earlier this year at a boutique firm after graduating and am aligned to education, given my background. Last year I had hoped to get into LEK or OW, but sadly was not invited to interview, even with referrals. I still want to try for them again but am unsure of how to best prepare myself leading up to application (should I focus on certain project types, re-network with original references or start over new?, how many projects should I complete before reapplying?, etc.) and how to best position myself as an "experienced" hire as opposed to campus hire.

I'm also slightly worried about the industry focus I've been put into, as I'm hoping to get broader experience and don't know if it'll be an obstacle to getting into a generalist role.

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Content Creator
replied on Dec 31, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


Sorry to hear about that. Try to follow up with your referrers to understand what happened there (maybe there were just not hiring, this has been a very very bizarre year).

In any case, you have 2 main workstreams ahead:


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Content Creator
replied on Dec 31, 2020
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience

Hey there,

Can I challenge your thinking & approach please...sounds like you are looking to do things NOW with the aim of getting into LEK/OW?! Thats a limited perspective to me unless those are your dream firms to work for.

Rather, focus on having a balanced growth and improving consulting skills over the next 12-18 months. At least 2-3 years of solid work experience is required to be considered an experienced hire. Think bigger & broader as you prepare & improve over next 12-18 months.

Consider following factors:

Improving Consulting Skills

You know what these are. So do everything you can in your current company to build & improve these skills. Discuss with your manager/coach/partner etc, get their advice, involve them in your journey, get involved in internal side of desk work, write research paper etc. There is so much you can immerse yourself into.

Functional Skills

Do an audit of what you are really good at or getting better at- cost analysis? supply chain? etc I hope you get the point

Industry Skills

Too early in your career for this to become an impedement. Deep industry skills become relevant when you hit Manager at above. For now, focus on knowing as much as you can. Show a x-industry mindset to interviewers i.e. you are adaptable and can learn quickly reagrdless where you get put at. Be honest and say you need to time to figure your out industry passion. Everyone understands this. Its okay to experiment and try things in early days before you start to specialise. I started off as a Telco Network Engineering, moved to Corporate Strategy then to Strategy Consulting and finally settled into the world of supply chain & operations.

Education Industry

I worked for huge Education clients during my consulting days. Its an industry undergoing huge digital transformation and is pretty much recession proof. Dont write it off yet and you could find passion areas. Shoot me a message if you wish discuss more.

Give this case a shot-

Good Luck!

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Content Creator
replied on Dec 30, 2020
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

In general, there are 3 key things you can do to improve your interview chances:

1) Gain experience (internships, bootcamps, classes, stratups, extracirriculars, etc).

2) Network - speak to multiple people across offices and aim to get a referral

3) Review your resume - make sure your formatting is sharp/consistent, key words/experiences pop, and your experience bullets are properly written.

Now, I understand that you failed the first time with referrals, but you have to remember two key things here: 1) Each time you apply there's a % chance...keep rolling the dice 2) You applied during a pandemic...pipelines were thrown into chaos and a lot of hiring was minimized or put on hold

Given both of these you should absolutely try again.

In terms of preparing, you absolutely need to build up experience in your current role. What you need should be obvious...get onto projects that are high exposure and responsibility. Get promoted and/or assigned to lead teams, drive client engagements etc. etc. Anything you can do at your current company to build your consulting toolkit in a demonstrable way is something you should pursue!

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Content Creator
replied on Jan 04, 2021
Ex-Mckinsey|Certified Career Coach |Placed 500+ candidates at MBB & other consultancies

Hello there!

There is no certain number or type of projects you need to complete, your great performance would be of more importance.

Several things that could help increase your chances to get invited to the interview next time:

  • build a strong network in both offices (clear with your previous referrals what could have gone wrong, if needed, find a new one)
  • make sure your profile is strong, too (don't forget to write about your experience clearly)
  • find some other ways to gain experience (internship could be a good option)

Finding a good coach is also one of the options to network and polish your profile, as well as to prepare for the interviews.

Hope it helps.

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Content Creator
replied on Dec 30, 2020
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews


That's a very good question.

Clarifying question: are you still in touch with the HR of the companies? They are in the best position to follow your professional development and to recommend you whether or not to apply. I'd give a call with the HR a shot!

There are several ways to be considered as an "experienced hire": i) acquire relevant experience (not in terms of #projects but impact achieved on those projects); ii) network and get a referral; optimize your application; and other.

If you are interested in knowing how I support candidates for every step of the recruiting process, I'd be happy to set up a quick introductory call.

Hope this helps.



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Anonymous replied on Dec 31, 2020


I would suggest to activating your contacts in both firms and maybe clarify what can be improved in your application to get an interview. Also best to also network with different people in these firms to have a broader picture of the situation (e.g. recruitment freeze)

In any case, make sure you update your resume with latest achievements and if possible demonstrate your ambition and achievements (e.g. early promotion). It might give you better chance to be considered as experienced hire.


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Clara gave the best answer


Content Creator
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut
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