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Networking tips for an experienced hire

Anonymous A asked on Jan 21, 2019 - 7 answers

Hello,
I have 8 years of industry experience in South Asia & the Middle East & I’m looking to switch to the consulting industry. I did my MBA from one of the Top 5 European business schools, 4 years ago.
From my understanding - from the Q&A resources at PL, and elsewhere – I have realized that being an experienced hire, networking is very important in securing an interview invite, which is my biggest challenge right now.

  1. Considering my (8-year non-consulting) experience, would only partner level referrals work for me?
  2. Also, please advise me on what all to write in a cold email/LinkedIn message: (to get a phone call or a coffee chat)
    1. To Friends/Alumni in other offices worldwide, and how can they be helpful.
    2. To unknown People via Linkedin in the target office (Middle East)

Thank you in advance.

(edited)

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Guennael
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replied on Jan 22, 2019
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews
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Guys - I was in your shoes as well, and am living proof it works.

- First step is to figure out whom to reach out to: more tenured consultants is better. Look in your background to see if you have friends or former classmates, colleagues... who went on to join MBB. Alternatively, look at existing consultants who did a stint at one of your former companies or top competitors. What about people who came from the same location as you?

- If you current employer employs consultants from time to time, try to be staffed on these projects and work with them. This is actually the absolute best way to get an interview, and these consultants will then be able to say "I worked with Anonymous A for 4 months, and really liked his/her work". Incidentally, this is also the path I took

- Once you have a list of people, reach out aggressively. In my case, I contacted probably 15 or 20 people; just about half replied, I managed to get a referral at all 3 companies and 5 consultants gave me cases

- How do you reach out? Write a short application: "I'm so & so, looking to join XYZ company as an experienced hire. I notice you and I share ... in common so figured I'd reach out. Would have have some time for breakfast or coffee (or even just a quick call) to discuss your experience?". Once you have the contact, don't ask for the recommendation right away, but make sure to slowly build a rapport instead.

- The worst thing you can do is blast out requests for recommendations to people who don't know you or don't even know why you targeted them. We all see this all the time: a request coming out of nowhere, someone we don't know who asks for me to refer them... Ask yourself, why would I? I am investing what little personal capital I have in someone I don't know, who probably won't even update me on what happened, and who may be absolutely terrible anyway. Yes, that candidate may be a future rockstar - but odds are he/she is not... and I want the best for my former company. I will only reoommend people I know well and have worked with, because these are also the only people I would feel comfortable personally recommending. Pretty much any consultant will be just as picky when deciding whom to refer, and you probably would do the same in our shoes.

Jeff
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updated his answer on Jan 22, 2019
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Mate,

If you're looking to get into consulting in Dubai, hang out on Wed / Thurs evenings in the bars around DIFC and Media One Hotel in Marina.

Send meaningful messages to select partners, ideally those you can see from LI are involved in recruiting -- others will be hit or miss. Request a 15 min coffee on a Thurs.

Obviously have your pitch and Qs ready and own the conversation.

Jeff

(edited)

Francesco replied on Jan 21, 2019
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Hi Anonymous,

as for your question 1, you don’t necessarily need partner referrals; managers or principal could provide one as well. Although a partner referral would be the most powerful, it is also the most difficult to get, as response rate from them is usually lower than other positions.

In terms of your question 2 and how to do networking, I would suggest going through the following three-step approach:

1. Identify who are the people that can more easily help you

2. Write them a customized email

3. Have a call with the consultant, and indirectly ask for a referral

As general tips:

  • Don’t use LinkedIn for your communication – emails work a lot better. There are several tools nowadays that allow to find very quickly the email of basically anyone. You should target at least 30% conversion for your messages – if you are not achieving that there is space for improvement in your message.
  • When you write to your target connections, your goal should not be to ask questions, rather to organize a call. Then in the call you should ask the right questions to create a link with them.
  • Whatever questions you ask during the call, you should have a closing question to ask (indirectly) for the referral. Don’t leave that to chances.

You should prepare three main things before the call:

  • Your own pitch, highlighting who you are in 3-4 key sentences. Previous experience with relevant brands/companies would be great to show you are qualified
  • 3-4 questions, focused on the personal experiences of the person (and not on the company only). Ideally you should try to learn as much as possible about the contact before. You can also discover relevant information with the first questions. Your goal here is to have a conversation and not a Q&A session.
  • Closing question for referral. You should ask (in an indirect way to avoid to be too pushy) a referral at the end of the call. If you correctly introduce yourself, do a good job with the questions before and have something in common (eg former alumni, common connections…), you can increase by a relevant amount the likelihood of a referral. If you don’t ask, they may not volunteer to offer one.

Before the call, it would be useful to review your CV and Cover, to be sure they are updated and structured properly for your MBB application, so that you can forward them without delays if needed.

If you are interested to know more about the exact steps to maximize conversion for referrals, please feel free to PM me.

Best,

Francesco

Hi all, — Jeff on Jan 22, 2019

Anonymous B updated his answer on Jan 21, 2019

Hello Anonymous A,

So I am in the same situation where I have 5 years industry experience and looking to get into MBB firms. In regards with the networking I’ve done is mostly sending email on LinkedIn. The reply rate is very low, so you need to do this with low expectations. I do have a couple of successful networking where those messages I’ve sent on LinkedIn led to a phone call with an engagement manager at MCK, and email conversations with BCG principal. MBB firms do occasionally have event for experience hire, although rarely so you might want to constantly keep an eye for those.

In terms of getting a referral, that would be dependent on which office it is based, so I can’t really comment on that. Some office do not provide referral bonus or have more than enough consultant, and consultants from these office are unlikely to refer you.

As for how to draft LinkedIn emails, just do it sincerely and explain your situation. If you are able to graduate from top MBA school in Europe, i don’t see why you need help on drafting emails.

Best Wishes,

(edited)

Anne
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replied on Jan 28, 2019
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Hello,

You don't specifically need to get a referral.

I think the best way to interest the recuitement team is to highlight your industry expertise, especially if it is aligned to the needs of the office your are contacting.
It was my case when I applied to MBB after 5 years of working in the software for market finance. Offices in Paris are actively looking for consultants with experience in financial sectors and in IT / Digital.

If unfortunately you don't get an answer from the recruitement team, I would rather contact more junior staff, like consultant. Let's be pragmatic : principal or partners have very little time, and they have a reputation to risk in case you don't make it in the interviews.

On the opposite, consulants or projects leader don't have such a strong pressure and may be more interested in the refering bonus they would get if you are hired !

I hope you will succeed in getting your interviews !

Anonymous C replied on Jan 22, 2019

Hi Anonymous A,

I'm in the same boat as you are (experienced hire, European MBA) and my experience has been that getting an interview is definitely more difficult when you're not following the traditional MBA-feeder route, but it's not impossible. Here are a few things you can do to give yourself an advantage:

  1. Send a million e-mails and get referral within your existing network if you can. As you know, this is by far the most important step. While LinkedIn is useful and definitely worthwhile, your better option will always be to go through people you know (preferably from your MBA). It takes forever to win over a stranger who you've reached out to on LinkedIn, convince them you're different from everyone else who askss them for a referral, and then to somehow get picked up and screened by recruiters in the off-season. It's easier to have someone who already knows you vouch for you, and believe me they get approached enough for referral in the consulting world so they wouldn't mind helping a friend out.
  2. Walk the walk and talk the talk. This doesn't just mean be good at case/fit interviews, but it also means make your CV and cover letter as "consultant-y" as possible. These resources from IGotAnOffer actually helped me land a couple interviews: https://igotanoffer.com/pages/consulting-cover-letter https://igotanoffer.com/pages/consulting-resume
  3. Be yourself. Remember, you're not enrolled in an MBA program, so don't act like one. You're coming in as an experienced hire, and this is what recruiters will see you as. Leverage your MBA for sure, but also leverage your background and emphasize a sincere interest in working for a consulting firm. Remember: they don't care what you did before so much as how you think.

Hope this helps and good luck!

Vlad updated his answer on Jan 22, 2019
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Hi,

1) Any level would work, but obviously the higher - the better. I would not limit the range to partners. If you have a good connection at the associate / manager level - pls use it

2) Any warm e-mail is better than a cold one. Thus try to get an intro:

  • From friends who work there / have friends working there
  • Leveraging alumni networks / apps
  • Leveraging your MBA contacts - I believe many of them are now the consultants

The office does not matter. Of course, it's better to have someone from the region, but it's not critical.

3) Re reaching out to people - I agree with Francesco:

  • Ask for a call
  • Have a pitch and questions. Share your career path and ask for advice
  • Ask for a referral. However - be careful with partners. They are not really incentivized to make a referral unless they are directly interested in your expertise.

4) Linkedin - it's fine to reach the partners who have similar expertise in your region. They can quickly scan your background and potentially will be interested in your capabilities and in hiring you

5) A PRO tip - at least at McKinsey every office has a partner responsible for hiring experienced hires. You can ask the recruiting to connect with him

7) Events for experienced hires - there are plenty of them. Again, check with the recruiting

Best

(edited)