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Experienced hire thinking of applying for entry level

Experienced Hire
New answer on Oct 31, 2023
11 Answers
Anonymous A asked on Sep 27, 2023

Hi there, I’m an experienced hire with a few years in consulting and 2 years within industry. Given there are limited experienced hire roles open, I’m thinking of taking a step back and applying via the entry level/ grad scheme route.

Do we know if this is viewed unfavourably by HR and any views of whether this is a terrible idea is appreciated!


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Content Creator
replied on Sep 30, 2023
ex Jr. Partner McKinsey|Senior Interviewer|Real Feedback & Free Homework between sessions|Harvard Coach|10+ Experience


Your consideration of applying for an entry-level or graduate scheme route as an experienced hire is a strategic move that can have both pros and cons. Here's an overview to help you make an informed decision:


Career Transition: If you're looking to pivot your career or make a significant change in your focus area, starting at the entry level can provide a fresh start and opportunities for skill development.

Company Exposure: By entering at a lower level, you have the chance to get to know the company culture, operations, and clients from the ground up. This can be valuable in the long run.

Networking: Entry-level roles often offer more extensive networking opportunities within the organization, allowing you to build relationships with colleagues and superiors.


Salary and Seniority: Starting at an entry level may come with a lower salary and slower progression through the ranks compared to experienced hires. You'll need to consider if this aligns with your financial and career goals.

Overqualification: Some HR departments may view an experienced hire applying for entry-level roles as overqualified or misaligned with the job requirements, which could lead to rejection.

Time Investment: Starting at the entry level may require more time to reach your desired career level, especially if you already have a few years of consulting and industry experience.

If you have more specific questions or need further guidance on your career transition, please feel free to ask.

Best regards, Frederic

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Content Creator
replied on Oct 31, 2023
FREE 15MIN CONSULTATION | #1 Strategy& / OW coach | >70 5* reviews |90% offers ⇨ | MENA, DE, UK

Hello! As a seasoned strategy consultant, I understand your dilemma as an experienced hire considering the entry-level/grad scheme route. While it is true that there may be limited experienced hire roles available, taking a step back and applying through the entry-level route can still be a viable option.

From my experience, HR departments generally do not view this as unfavorable. In fact, many consulting firms have specific programs and pathways designed for experienced professionals who are looking to transition into consulting. These programs often provide additional training and support to help experienced hires adapt to the consulting environment.

By applying through the entry-level/grad scheme route, you can demonstrate your commitment to the consulting industry and your willingness to learn and grow within the firm. It also allows you to showcase your transferable skills and experiences from your previous consulting and industry roles.

However, it is important to note that the competition for entry-level positions can be intense, as there are typically a larger number of applicants compared to experienced hire roles. Therefore, it is crucial to tailor your application materials, such as your resume and cover letter, to highlight your relevant experiences and skills that align with the consulting industry.

Additionally, during the interview process, be prepared to address why you are applying for an entry-level position despite your previous experience. Emphasize your passion for consulting, your desire to learn and contribute to the firm, and how your previous experiences have prepared you for success in the role.

Overall, while there may be some challenges, applying through the entry-level/grad scheme route can still be a viable option for experienced hires. It allows you to showcase your potential and commitment to the consulting industry. With thorough preparation and a compelling application, you can increase your chances of success.

If you have any further questions or need additional guidance, feel free to ask. Best of luck with your application!

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replied on Sep 27, 2023
MBB & Tier2 preparation | 85+ offers | 6+ years coaching | 1000+ sessions | PDF reviews attached


You can apply for any position you'd like but the position you will be considered for will still be defined by your actual experience. 

Therefore, you will either be offered to interview for a more senior role or rejected due to being overqualified.



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Content Creator
replied on Sep 27, 2023
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer


This really depends on a couple of factors. Here are a couple of general principles

  • If you are not in school, you won't be applying with the grad scheme route - you are applying as an experienced hire
  • When you apply, the applicable role is often decided by recruiting based on your experience, and this may also be further tweaked depending on your actual interview performance

If your previous experience is from T2/T3, then I would say yes it is possible to still try for a more junior role if your target is MBB. If you already have MBB experience and are trying to apply again to MBB then based on my experience they would not take you a the pure entry level.

All the best!

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Anonymous A on Sep 27, 2023

I did 3 years at Accenture - do you think I’d be able to apply for MBB in the entry level role even with this?

Michael replied on Sep 29, 2023

Hi there,

  • Entry-level consulting is for newbies. You have more skills, but also more problems.
  • Some say apply for roles that suit you, not entry-level ones. You can show your worth and get paid well. But it’s harder to get in.
  • Some firms have programs for people like you, such as McKinsey, BCG, or Bain. They help you learn and grow in consulting.
  • If you apply for entry-level roles, tell them why. Show them how you can help them and their clients. Be open to change.
  • To get ready, learn about the firm and the cases. Practice your case skills. Use websites like CaseCoach or PrepLounge. Talk to consultants.

    Good luck!
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Content Creator
replied on Sep 29, 2023
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

Q: I’m thinking of taking a step back and applying via the entry level/ grad scheme route. Do we know if this is viewed unfavourably by HR and any views of whether this is a terrible idea is appreciated.

With 4 years of experience partially in consulting, I don’t see the need to apply for an entry-level role. You can apply for a Junior Associate (McKinsey) or Senior Associate (BCG/Bain) position and you should be fine.

If it doesn’t work, you might consider an MBA and apply for the Associate (McKinsey) or Consultant (BCG/Bain) position.

Good luck!


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Content Creator
replied on Sep 28, 2023
#1 Bain coach | >95% success rate | interviewer for 8+ years | mentor and coach for 7+ years

Hi there,

First of all, congratulations on the progress in your career thus far!

I would be happy to share my thoughts on your situation:

  • First of all, it's not uncommon for experienced hires to consider entry-level roles, especially when they transition between industries or when experienced hire roles are limited. But the key here is to ensure you can articulate your reasons for doing so in a way that shows you're not just settling, but that you see real value in starting at the entry level in a new context.
  • Moreover, the recruiter will be particularly interested in your motivation. If you position it as wanting to get a comprehensive understanding of the firm from the ground up, or being eager to integrate into the company culture fully, it can be seen positively. However, some might worry about overqualification or potential dissatisfaction if the role doesn't meet your experience level.
  • Lastly, I would advise you to network with current employees in the firms you are targeting. This can give you insights on how your application might be perceived and can even provide opportunities for more suitable positions that may not be publicly advertised.

If you would like a more detailed discussion on your specific situation, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.



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replied on Sep 28, 2023
University of St.Gallen graduate | Learn to think like a Consultant | Personalized prep | CV review

Transitioning from an experienced hire role to an entry-level or graduate scheme can be a strategic move in some cases, but it depends on your specific circumstances and career goals. Here are some considerations:

Advantages of Transitioning:

  • Learning Opportunity: Joining at an entry-level position can provide you with an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the company, its culture, and its specific processes and methodologies. This can be valuable if you plan to stay with the company long-term.
  • Networking: Starting at a lower level may allow you to build relationships with junior and mid-level employees who can later support your career progression within the organization.
  • Skill Refresh: If you've been out of consulting for a while, starting at an entry level can give you the chance to refresh your consulting skills and knowledge.

Considerations and Potential Challenges:

  • Pay and Seniority: You might need to accept a lower salary and lower seniority compared to what you had as an experienced hire. This can be a financial and ego adjustment.
  • Perception: There could be a perception that you're overqualified for an entry-level role, which might raise questions about why you're taking this step back.
  • Timeline: Depending on the organization and your career goals, it might take several years to progress to a level equivalent to what you had before.
  • Exit Opportunities: Consider your long-term goals. If you're looking to transition out of consulting or this specific industry in a few years, it might not make sense to start at a junior level.
  • HR View: The HR view can vary greatly between organizations. Some companies are open to hiring experienced professionals at lower levels if they see potential for growth and commitment.

Key Factors for Success:

  • Clearly communicate your reasons for wanting to start at an entry level in your application and interviews. Emphasize your commitment to the organization and your eagerness to learn and grow.
  • Leverage your prior consulting and industry experience to excel in your new role. Your expertise can help you stand out, even in an entry-level position.
  • Network within the company to build relationships with decision-makers who can advocate for your advancement.
  • Have a clear plan for how you intend to progress within the organization and achieve your career goals.

Overall, transitioning from an experienced hire role to an entry-level position can work if it aligns with your career objectives and if you can effectively communicate your reasons for the change. It's important to weigh the pros and cons and consider how this decision fits into your long-term career strategy.

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Content Creator
updated an answer on Sep 28, 2023
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

Honestly, I don't love the idea. Either they like your profile and they want you at the firm or they don't.

I would personally apply at the consultant level.

Importantly, this is not a bad question/excuse for networking (ask “what role do I fit in”) which will both help you understand the answer on a per firm basis and improve your chances of being invited.

Here's some more reading to help you with your recruiting/apps:


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Content Creator
replied on Sep 27, 2023
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Hi there!

Not sure what makes you think there are more available roles at entry level :) 

No, I wouldn't do that. Most firms won't even consider you for more junior roles. 

What you need instead if a better strategy in terms of how to pass screening for the roles that you'd actually like. In your case specifically, since you're an experienced hire, referrals would make a huge difference, so do optimise for those (either through current friends or by expanding your network - sharing a guide below on how to leverage LinkedIn to find contacts).

Aside from this, make sure that you also liaise with the recruiters from your preferred firms to identify what role would suit you best. One thing you could consider is moving into more specialised roles that would leverage your existing experience e.g., not a generalist consultant but one that is industry-focused. 

Best of luck with it!


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replied on Sep 27, 2023
Bain | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger | Market Sizing Expert | 30% discount in Feb & March

It's not a “terrible idea”. But doesnt make sense, because you are an experienced hire, and applying as a new hire will not change that.

You have to apply through the right channel for your experience… applying as an experienced hire does not mean necessarily you will get a senior position. Ultimately they may interview you anyway for an entry-level role.

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