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Rejected in the screening phase

Lorenzo asked on Feb 14, 2018 - 4 answers

I have recently sent my curriculm and cover letter to several major players in the strategy consultancy field but i got rejected in the screening phase (by mck and RB). I apply for an entry position and the main reasons i can image is my lack of log international experiences and my age (i am 28 while most of new employee are 3-4 years younger).
I could send my CV and a sample of cover letter, i would just to know if i could somehow fix them or if a position in major is not likely.

My education:
Post-doctoral researcher in nuclear eng.
PhD in nuclear eng.
Master's degree in nuclear eng. summa con laude

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updated his answer on Feb 14, 2018
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Hi Lorenzo,

in Italy (I assume you are applying there) you normally enter consulting in a pre-MBA position with 1 year of seniority, which means you are not competing with new graduates but rather with applicants with 1-2 years of working experience. This makes more challenging to meet the bar, as at an equivalent age you have to show you can compensate for the lack of working experience.

The degree by how much this is challenging depends on several factors; in order of priority:

  • Work experience, if any
  • University
  • PhD degree
  • Leadership experience (eg responsible for school clubs; political partiers participation)

It could also be that your CV and Cover are simply not optimized for a consulting application.

Having said that, entering consulting as a post PhD at your age is totally feasible if you follow the right steps – I have recently helped a PhD of your age to land an offer from one of the top companies in Milan.

The best thing to maximize your chances is to look for a person who can refer you and potentially also provide comments on your CV/Cover. You can find more about referrals at the following link. If you are unable to find referrals, some experts (disclosure - I am one of them) can also provide support on that.

Please feel free to PM me for more information.




replied on Feb 14, 2018
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Second what Bruno said. Issue is probably most likely with lack of referral or application within a "sponsored" event where your name was flagged among the ones of interesting candidates.

before applying to other firms would make sure to have that connection.


replied on Feb 14, 2018
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Hi Lorenzo,

Could you please send your CV and CL, maybe I can provide you a more tailored advice.

Agree with the comments below and would like to provide some details on how to get a reference / pass the screening after consulting events:

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 at 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 an 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 of yourself if the consultant has already committed but finds it hard to find the time

6) Talking to consultants who specialize in nuclear engineering. Chances to get referral will be higher. Try to find them via Linkedin / events

Good luck!

Anonymous replied on Feb 14, 2018

Hey Lorenzo,

For someone applying to consulting with a PhD degree your age is not the issue for sure - if something you're even younger than most of the people that join a consulting firm after completing a PhD. That said, the lack of international experience may be indeed an issue depending on the office you're applying, however I wouldn't be expecting that to be the major constraint if you're applying to Italy (just a guess from the fact you're Italian; it can be indeed if you're applying somewhere else where you have no roots!).

Thus, there might be some improvements you can do to your CV/cover letter (you may want to want to consider the option to reach out to experienced consutants directly for it), but personally what I believe you should really try hard to do is to network with people in those offices you are targetting in order to try to secure a referral - McKinsey has many PhD students under the radar, if you were never invited to any of their events, then your best odds to secure an interview is to be referred by someone else!