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Seniority negotiation

MBB negotiatian seniority
New answer on Feb 28, 2024
8 Answers
341 Views
Anonymous A asked on Feb 25, 2024

Hello Everyone, 

So , I had a call with HR from an MBB firm to talk about their offer. I am an industry Hire with six years of exeprience and they are proposing that I join the firm as 1st year Consultant but I'll be doing senior associate work during the first six to 12 months.  I would like to negotiate an entry level as a second year Consultant given the number of years of experience that I have. Do you think it's feasible? On the other hand, I'm afraid that if I join as second year consultant , the pressure and expectations would be very high that I won't be able to keep up especially that I don't come from a consulting background. However , I'm also scared to regret not negotiating if I realize that people with similar profile as mine have joined as 2nd year Consultant which might impact my motivation.

Should I negotiate the seniority in my case? Your advice would be highly valuable and I thank you in advance for it.

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Benjamin
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updated an answer on Feb 25, 2024
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer

Hi,

Based on my experience, I would strongly suggest you take the C1 (consultant 1st year) position. 

6 years industry experience is similar to those who go through the MBA route (the average YOE for top schools is often ~5 years based on historical stats). MBA hires start at the C1 position. So its not unreasonable to ask you to start as C1.

You might be tempted to think that your years of experience should lend you the right to start as C2, but trust me when I say that lateral hires are often very shocked and overwhelmed by the expectations of MBB. There are a couple of reasons why going in as a C2 is not a great idea

  • C2s are held to the highest expectations among the entire Associate to Consultant cohort (A/C cohort)
  • You will be competing with other C2s who either
    • Have been homegrown and have 3-4 years more experience of doing that actual job than you have
    • Have joined from MBA and started at C1 and thus have 1 year more experience/headstart than you
  • You also need to realize that C2 means that you need to be performing ‘at next level’ very quickly, which means mini-PLing → so essentially within less than a year you have to build, demonstrate and excel at the core consulting skills (which homegrown associates take ~3-4 years to build up to a robust level); and then you also have to now start performing as a mini-PL (which is the toughest role in consulting)

The only exception is if you've already had relevant consulting experience, but I assume that isn't the case. 

Lastly, in the grand scheme of things, 2 years in a long career of 20-30 more years of working is really nothing. 

 

(edited)

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Cristian
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replied on Feb 26, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

You've identified the problem really well. 

I've seen this situation a few times, both when I was in the firm and then as a coach advising candidates. 

I typically tell people NOT to push for the more senior position, especially if they want to prioritise a mid to long-term career in consulting. 

MBBs tend to recommend the position they believe you would best adapt to, given your experience. I absolutely understand this can be frustrating to some people. The alternative to this is going in a more senior role and being absolutely swamped (i.e., your skills don't match the expectations) or un-staffable (you have a higher daily charge and the team doesn't want to take you on because you don't have a strong value prop). I've seen a few people leave after 1 year because they were burned out as a consequence of this.

Going in at a more junior role gives you the luxury of gradually learning and having space to grow. And if you plan on being in the firm mid to long term, the promotion timelines will even out anyway over time. 

If you're starting soon, sharing with you two guides with a few tips that might help you settle in smoothly:

Best,
Cristian

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Pedro
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replied on Feb 27, 2024
Bain | Roland Berger | EY-Parthenon | Mentoring Approach | 30% off first 10 sessions in May| Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

In this case I really feel the consulting firm is not only providing you with a fair offer, but also setting you up for success.

You seem to believe that they are not recognizing your experience. Well, not at all. If that was the case, they would be giving you a AC1 role. But no, they are giving you a Consultant role, but asking you to perform as a Senior Associate Consultant.

And if you perform well as a SAC, at the end of those 12 months, they will promote you to Consultant 2.

Sure, you could join as a Consultant 2. But in that case, you will have to perform as a Consultant 2. You make 15% more and have a strong chance of being asked to leave after 12 months. Moreover, when it is time to consider who can move up to project manager… you'll barely have any consulting experience… you face a serious risk of not making it.

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Francesco
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replied on Feb 26, 2024
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

Congratulations on the offer! In terms of your questions:

1) I would like to negotiate an entry level as a second year Consultant given the number of years of experience that I have. Do you think it's feasible?

Being a 1st year consultant seems fine given your experience - Benjamin provided a great explanation as to why. It might be possible to negotiate if you have an “opportunity cost” (i.e. another offer), although I don't think it makes much sense for the points below.

2) On the other hand, I'm afraid that if I join as second year consultant , the pressure and expectations would be very high that I won't be able to keep up especially that I don't come from a consulting background. 

This is a reasonable preoccupation. I agree that 1st year consultant would be safer in your case. The extra one year of seniority long term won’t matter much in any case.

3) However, I'm also scared to regret not negotiating if I realize that people with similar profile as mine have joined as 2nd year Consultant which might impact my motivation.

If they proposed that position, it is unlikely that people with a similar seniority would get a higher position, unless their experience/interview performance was different. That's exactly because they will anticipate the issue. So I would not worry about this. Still, if you want, you might double-check on LinkedIn for your specific office.

4) Should I negotiate the seniority in my case?

Overall I think their proposal is fair. Unless you have a consulting offer for a higher position or find evidence that other people joined at a higher position in your target office with the same seniority/experience and would like to take the risk of more pressure, I would not recommend negotiating on this point. You might still negotiate on a signing bonus or relocation bonus if available in your target office.

All the best for a great start!

Francesco

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Dennis
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replied on Feb 26, 2024
Ex-Roland Berger|Project Manager and Recruiter|7+ years of consulting experience in USA and Europe

Hi there,

if you don’t have prior consulting experience, the first months will likely be painful, no matter what. You want to give yourself enough time to adjust and learn the ropes. The higher your entry level, the higher and more immediate the expectations that you hit the ground running. 
 

If the firm suggests for you to start at C1, it is not because they want to get you for “cheap“ but because they likely have experience with lateral hires with similar backgrounds as you. You can try to negotiate for a higher signing bonus to compensate a bit for salary differences in your first year.

In consulting, promotions happen faster than in corporate jobs. So if you perform, you will reach the next level in a timely manner. But you want to make sure that you set yourself up for being able to perform in the first place.

Best

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Ian
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replied on Feb 26, 2024
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Florian
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replied on Feb 26, 2024
Highest-rated McKinsey coach (ratings, offers, sessions) | 500+ offers | Author of The 1% & Consulting Career Secrets

Hi there,

Agree with Ian and Benjamin here!

I'd start as proposed but negotiate for a fast-track promotion window. Check out my book Consulting Career Secrets on how to get there! :-)

All the best,

Florian

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Nikita
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updated an answer on Mar 02, 2024
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Hey, congrats on the offer!

I suggest you join as a C1. Believe me, the recruiting team knows better and they are doing you a favour anyway, letting you do the SA's work for 1 year. It's gonna be tough out there without prior consulting experience, believe me.

Good luck,
Nick

(edited)

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Benjamin gave the best answer

Benjamin

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