Consulting firm referral strategy

Referral Referral program at MBB
New answer on Jan 31, 2021
10 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Feb 12, 2020

I have read the posts about referral on this forum, but still have some specific questions:

1. Currently, I am applying for MBB. For a specific firm, how many referrals would you try to secure? My original plan was to secure 2 people each firm to refer me, and send my CV to both to just make sure that the referral is completed. Should I just ask one person to refer, given that there might be an issue of referral bonus if I asked two people to refer for me?

2. It seems that firms like McKinsey have a referral system where you need to fill in specific reason why you think the candidate is a good fit. My question is, given that reason for referral needs to be provided (instead of just forwarding application to HR), is it still logical to cold mail to find a person who could refer me? Even if I successfully had a quick chat on phone with an employee, it's hard for him to provide solid reasons of why he should recommend me.

3. I have spent a lot of time sending cold mails and asking for phone chat. But some of my friends mentioned that they would prefer referring people (to earn the $) but wouldn't want to spend time to chat. Is it recommended to directly cold mail and ask the employee whether he could refer me (of course, crafting a nice mail mentioning about my background and motivation)?

Any suggestion would be appreciated. Thanks a lot!

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Clara
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replied on Feb 13, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

To your points:

  1. You only need 1 referral per MBB firm -as you said, you don´t wan to generate friction in case of a referral bonus-.
  2. Precisely for this is best to ensure that you get the know the person before. Think that the referral is linked to their name, so they also need to indeed check if you would be a good fit. Best is to have the possibility to meet, even briefly (e.g., coffee chat, recruitment event, etc.)
  3. Don´t ask direclty in the first interaction. Stablish a communication line and only then tackle the topic, so you leave the other person the chance to "take the lead" and propose the way he/she wants to go.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,
Clara

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Robert
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replied on Jul 13, 2020
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi Anonymous,

  1. More than 1 referral doesn't hurt, but has no tangible benefit either. So one per firm is enough.
  2. Indeed yes, you need to provide a reason. That's why the idea is establishing a relationship first before softly shifting the idea into the direction of a referral.
  3. See point 2. In addition: what works well for most folks is participating at some firm events, get in touch and have some engaging conversations, secure contact details, and follow up afterwards for a meaningful and engaging discussion.

Hope this helps - if so, please be so kind and give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button!

Robert

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Antonello
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replied on Mar 01, 2020
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

1. 1 per firm
2. yes
3. I would use LinkedIn, starting from ex alumni of your university now in MBB

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Vlad
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replied on Feb 12, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

1) Only one person can refer you and get a bonus. There is absolutely 0 sense to have more than one. Pls don't confuse the people who will be referring you and spending their time

2) Technically you can provide some fake reasons for him. Especially if you have some touch points (same university). However cold calling is always the worst and the least efficient

3) Pls never do that. You never know how the person will react (he can simply report you to hr

Best

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Anonymous A on Feb 12, 2020
Thanks Vlad. Regarding the third point, you mean for cold mailing, it is always suggested to request a phone call as a start right?
Vlad on Feb 13, 2020
Yes
Gaurav
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replied on Jan 31, 2021
Ex-Mckinsey|Certified Career Coach |Placed 500+ candidates at MBB & other consultancies

Hi there!

1. you need only 1 referral per the company
2. yes, it is so
3. I would recommend you to make more personalized messages and use a lot of different channels for communication, like Linkedin, different events where you can find your potential contacts

Good luck,
GB

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Anonymous replied on Jul 11, 2020

Hi,

I would like to explain you the mechanics how referrals usually work:

My mentee sends me the documents (CV and cover letter) for a specific company.

I have a very wide network of friends, former colleagues and ex-mentees on high positions in consulting (partners, principals and managers) across the world. I chat with them individually praising your competences and skills. Afterwards, I ask them to follow your documents on their behalf directly to their HR ladies while putting a word for you.

In that way you may get your “partner referral” which normally brings you in the pole position for the interview. You may compare it to “skipping the line for business class” at the airport.

Best,

André

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Emily
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replied on Jun 30, 2020
BCG Project Leader | 3+ years interview experience for BCG SEA recruiting | Kellogg MBA, NTU, Peking University

Hi,

(1) Defitinte just 1 per company, otherwise you create unnecessary trouble for all people involved
(2) That's why a good referral is never just about 1 email or 1 call. You need to invest time in building relationship and get the person to know you more so that he/she can actually speak well for you. Otherwise even if he/she fill the form, their answer might not be convincing.
(3) No. In more cases I would think the person wouldn't feel comfortable doing so. There might be some consultants who prefer referring without knowing you because they just want to take a chance on the $. But I can tell you the success rate with such referral would be pretty low. People who refer for the sake of money without quality check are most likely to be junior and transactional in the company. Senior people and people who would stay in the company know when they refer someone they are taking a risk with their own credibility.

Best,

Emily

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Luca
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replied on Feb 29, 2020
BCG |NASA |20+ interviews with 100% success rate| 120+ students coached |GMAT expert 780/800 score

Hello,

Here are my answers:

1) One referral per company is absolutely enough. It codul be ambarassing for people inside to refer the same person (when you refer someone you should know him quite well..)

2) Yes, it is. If they believe that you are a good candidate it's a win-win situation, you get the job and they get the referral bonus

3) An email could be enough to start. Then, if you are ale to establish a connection, you could ask for a quick phone call to thank him.

Best,
Luca

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Francesco
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replied on Feb 13, 2020
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

please find below the replies to your questions:

  1. You just need one referral for each firm, the higher in the ranking the better
  2. I helped a lot of candidates who managed to get referrals with the right cold email, I would not worry about that
  3. You should not send messages asking for a referral directly – it is highly unlikely it could work and you could annoy people

Best,

Francesco

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Ian
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updated an answer on Feb 13, 2020
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

First, remember that this is a small world and life is long. In general, carry yourself high and hold yourself to the rules....people talk and find out if you've been sneaky about things. All of your questions start from the wrong premise, in my opinion (which is, get in at all costs). Do it the right way or not at all.

However, to answer your questions:

1) One only (pick the person you know the best and/or the most senior).

2) I can't imagine someone referring you without knowing you - they have a reputation to uphold as well. However, If you spoke with them on a call or during a coffee chat, they would have enough to go off of.

3) No. Your name is tied to that request! Also, in general, don't ask for recommendations when first speaking to someone who has given you their time. If someone doesn't want to recommend you, they won't. If they did, this could likely turn them off. Let it come from them.

(edited)

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Clara gave the best answer

Clara

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