Networking and cold mailing as a career explorer

Career Advising career move consulting
New answer on Jul 02, 2020
9 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Feb 16, 2020

I have graduated from MBA and works in finance now. However, I am unsatisfied about the current job and would like to explore a career in consulting as an option. The articles about networking are usually about people who are already applying for consulting firms. As I am still exploring the consultant career path, I'd like to seek your advice:

I am planning to reach out to alumni and also non-alumni, and also talk to senior managers focusing on financial industry consulting. However, the intention is to discuss more about career transitions, their experience in consulting, and figure out whether consulting is for me. Would these people working in consulting feel that I am wasting their time since I am not even sure whether I would want to work in consulting? Is it okay to state in front that I would like to talk to them in order to better understand whether consulting is for me? What kind of question is recommended to discuss in this kind of scenario?

Appreciate your advice.

(edited)

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Nathaniel
Expert
replied on Feb 16, 2020
McKinsey | BCG | CERN| University of Cambridge

Hello there,

As a matter of fact, this conversations are quite commonplace to be engaged by consultants, particularly for 2 types of people:

  • New graduates who are exploring consulting as their potential career path (while simultaneously exploring other options such as IB)
  • Experienced hires (e.g. industry expert from other sectors, which you are classified within), who are tyring to figure how the industry works and whether it would suit their personal aspiration and preferences.

I can't speak for every single person, but most consultants would be excited to engage with experience hires, given that you have domain expertise and are able to interact on a deeper level for these conversations.

And it is perfectly alright to inquire them on the plus and minus of working in consulting industry, for your consideration materials.

As you might be already aware, job search is a 2-way street, it is as important for the candidate to explore in details whether the company would suit them as it is fort he company to evaluate whether the candidate is suitable to be part of the company and try to attract them.

For the questions, it can be open ended. I would suggest the following questions for starters:

  • What is the plus and minus of working in the firm based on the consultant's experiences (people love to share their stories)?
  • How the firm fares in your functional / industrial area of interest?
  • What adjustments / differences you might encounter by shifting into consulting sector from finance sector?
  • How difficult is the transition if the consultant have made similar moves themselves?

Hope it helps.
I wish you all the best.

Kind regards,
Nathan



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Anonymous replied on Jul 02, 2020

Dear A,

I agree with experts that is's totally fine to contact to alumni and non-alumni. The only thing I would like to add on the top of that is to make your request for meeting, call, or conversation clear. Not just "I don't know whether I want to be in consulting or not".

Make a list of specific questions that you want to ask alumni and non-alumni person. And be assured, for clear questions you will get clear answers.

Best,

André

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

Hi
What you are trying to do is completely fine. Actually I'd encourage you to do such networking and get a deeper understanding of consulting, so that you can make a good judgement whether consulting should be your goal.
A real waste of time is when a candidate doesn't know whether consulting fits he/her but somehow manage to get it, then hates the job everyday and want to get out asap - that'd be a waste of everyone's time in the process.
So do the homework. Ask people nicely, offer to buy them coffee/tea for their time. Reach out to as many people as you can, since the response rate might be low due to the busy schedules of consultants. But in the end you just need around 5 good conversations to get the details.
Cheers,
Emily

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Maddy updated an answer on Feb 20, 2020

Hi Anonimous,

You've got very comprehensive recommendations above. Nevertheless, I have something to add. You have an excellent plan to land a consulting position. In my opinion, you should have a ready-to-use CV and cover letter. They should be complete and tailored to a job you want to get. To my mind, you can use templates to create it, such as https://www.preplounge.com/en/cv-templates.php. If you need help with cover letter writing, you can manage some modern builders like https://www.getcoverletter.com/cover-letter-examples/consultant/. Having it, you will be ready for any scenario. In any case, good luck!

(edited)

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Francesco
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Content Creator
replied on Feb 17, 2020
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.700+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

please find below the answers to your questions:

Would these people working in consulting feel that I am wasting their time since I am not even sure whether I would want to work in consulting?

If you contact alumni, some of them will be for sure happy to help. Clearly don’t show you are completely uncertain of what to do next but show consulting could be a serious option for you

Is it okay to state in front that I would like to talk to them in order to better understand whether consulting is for me?

Better to state you have some questions on their career path given your interest in consulting

What kind of question is recommended to discuss in this kind of scenario?

Since your goal is simply to understand more about the industry, I would ask questions related to your real interests to see if the consulting job matches them, relating to the direct experience of the consultant (ie - don’t ask generic questions about the company)

Best,

Francesco

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 17, 2020
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

This is a perfectly sound approach - just be sure to make this clear when you first reach out to them...i.e. "I am considering a career in consulting" or "I'm investigating whether a career in consulting might be right for me".

In fact, this is a perfect "excuse" to talk to people and potentially get a future referral!

Just make sure that 1) You're not too negative about your current job (whatever you dislike about your current role, make that the positive reason you're interested in consulting) and 2) Have a clear articulation for what you are looking for/like

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Yemi
Proficient
replied on Feb 16, 2020

I think reaching out to alumni and non-alums is the right approach. However I would recommend that you not give the impression that you're still trying to decide whether consulting is the right career for you - this would seem like a waste of their time. A better way to go about this is to let them know that you're exploring a career transition and, based on what you've researched about consulting (assuming you've done some searching), you believe this is a field for which your skills and passions are most suited. You would like to meet to discuss their experience in this field and recommendations on how best to prepare yourself for a consulting career - something along these lines will appeal more to their desire to help. Good luck!

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Udayan
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Content Creator
updated an answer on Feb 16, 2020
Top rated MBB coach with many offers /Ex McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience/Real cases

The short answer to your question is - you are taking the absolute right approach. It is exremely important to see if consulting would be a good fit before jumping into it given how demanding a career it can be. Your methodology works well and I would say thereis a ~20% chance people would spend time talking to you so make sure you reach out to as many people as you can

(edited)

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Vlad
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 16, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

Here are some tips on how you can do that:

1) Leverage your own network - find friends or friends of friends who can practice cases with you or make you a reference.

2) Attend company events. Consulting companies do a lot of events both for graduates and experienced hires. Find the social network groups related to consulting or websites, subscribe to newsletters and stay tuned. Also, check if they have events in your University since you are a PHD.

While some of the events will be open to everyone, others will require a resume and a cover letter, so make sure to prep

3) Talk to people on the events and send Thank You notes. After each event, there is a Q&A session where you can talk to consultants 1 on 1 or in a group. Ask for contact info or send a thank you note after the event ("I just wanted to thank you for visiting our University... It was especially interesting to hear about... Would be happy to keep in touch and apply in the nearest future.). Alternatively, you may use linkedin for that. If you are an experienced hire I strongly suggest to ask for a 1 on 1 meeting in a thank you note.

4) 1 on 1 meetings. All people like giving advice. So don't hesitate to ask consultants for a career advice. Tell your story and ask how consulting fits into it

5) Mock interview Depending on where you are in your prep process you may ask a consultant for a mock interview. Consultants are very much opened to help even if it is a cold call e-mail. The main problem is a lack of time on their side. So don't be afraid to remind about yourself if the consultant has already committed but finds it hard to find the time

6) Talking to partners If you are an experienced hire I suggest to talk directly to the partners in your industry or the partner responsible for experienced hires (in consulting partners also have additional roles). Get an intro from the HR or from your friends working there. Partners care a lot about experienced hires with relevant industry expertise. Chances to get referral are much lower though. They also will not be interested in giving mock interviews.

7) If you are an MBA graduate Just talk to your section mates and ask for a reference or a mock interview - they will be happy to help. Make sure you attend all the consulting events.

Good luck!

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Nathaniel gave the best answer

Nathaniel

McKinsey | BCG | CERN| University of Cambridge
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