Get Active in Our Amazing Community of Over 463,000 Peers!

Schedule mock interviews on the Meeting Board, join the latest community discussions in our Consulting Q&A and find like-minded Case Partners to connect and practice with!

Should I negotiate higher position?

negotiation offer position
New answer on Feb 06, 2023
6 Answers
538 Views
Anonymous A asked on Feb 05, 2023

Hi everyone. I'm a current MD student set to graduate this summer. Luckily I've received an offer from a T2 firm for a senior associate position, a level below the post-MBA role. I know that typically MBB and other firms offer MD's and PhD's the post-MBA position (i.e consultant), so I was wondering if it is worthwhile to negotiate for this higher role, or if I'm better off going in at a level below due to the lack of industry experience. 

Money is a huge factor as the salary is very different for these two roles, but I also don't want to set myself up for failure and go into a position where I'll be behind my peers due to the lack of experience. If anyone has any intel on the differences between the two roles, and if its worth speaking to HR about this, I would love to hear your advice. TIA!

(edited)

Overview of answers

Upvotes
  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best answer
Hagen
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 06, 2023
#1 recommended coach | >95% success rate | most experience in consulting, interviewing, and coaching

Hi there,

I think this is an interesting question that may be relevant for many people. I would be happy to share my thoughts on it:

  • For MBB in Western Europe at least, PhD candidates typically start at a (slightly) lower level compared to MBA candidates, even if the role might have the same name. The reason is that MBA candidates have been taught how to solve business cases and think like consultants, while PhD candidates have been trained to analyze situations in an academic manner, which is very different from consulting. Given these differences, I would recommend accepting the offered position.
  • However, considering the salary difference between the two roles you mentioned, I would advise you to negotiate for a higher salary.

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

Best,

Hagen

Was this answer helpful?
Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 06, 2023
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Hi there, 

This is a great question and it's amazing that you're already aware of the two sides of the coin. 

My advice - take the role they offer. 

They do it for a reason. The learning curve is super sharp and everybody struggles regardless of the role they started in. Many of those who push for a higher role soon realise that they can't manage it, grow frustrated and leave the firm. I've seen this happen especially with people who worked in other consulting firms and wanted to transfer laterally directly as managers into McKinsey. It didn't go well. 

If you're good, you'll get promoted within a year or so anyway. If you're playing the mid to long-term game it makes more sense to go one position down. 

If you do decide you want to negotiate up, happy to support you in the process. I've helped several candidates in this situation, both in terms of negotiating role and bonus / comp scheme. 

Best,

Cristian

Was this answer helpful?
Dennis
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 06, 2023
Roland Berger|Project Manager and Recruiter|7+ years of consulting experience in USA and Europe

Hi there,

congratulations on the offer. Most consulting firms are usually pretty standardized in terms of how they slot in new hires (e.g. based on your academic degree for people straight out of school). They typically don't want to set any precedent by putting a recent graduate new-hire with a non-MBA degree in the same role as MBA graduates. Trying to negotiate for a higher salary is also most likely not going to work because salaries are tied to career levels and should be the same for all employees at that career stage.

What you could try to negotiate is a higher signing bonus (or additional relocation bonus if applicable) which would compensate you some - at least for the first year.

If you don't have any prior consulting (or general business experience), starting at a lower level increases your chances for success in my opinion. You will have to learn the consulting skill set first which will usually take you a while. Not being in a position where you are already expected to independently manage a full project module or several workstreams will make things easier.

Best of luck

Was this answer helpful?
Benjamin
Expert
Content Creator
updated an answer on Feb 06, 2023
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer

Hi,

Firstly, congrats on the offer! I'll share my POV based on:

  • having known several people with a PhD background in BCG
  • having coached/led consultants with a PhD background when I was a PL/Principal in BCG
  • having written evaluations for both SA / C positions when I was a PL/Principal
  • Joining BCG as an experienced hire in the SA position as well

So here are my thoughts:

  • Senior Associate sounds like you got the offer from BCG, but anyway I will work with that assumption since SA at BCG is 1 level below Consultant or C (post-MBA role)
  • Whether or not you are offered the C role, that really depends on the office. In Asia, the PhDs i've seen have been offered SA, and not C, because they count PhD as -some- working experience, but not actual working experience that most MBAs have. Similarly, MDs who have already practiced for several years before coming have been offered C, but fresh MD graduate students who have only studied would be offered only SA
  • Salary is of course a big factor but frankly in the grand scheme of things I really think you should not care about it. It's just 1 year of earning less salary. If you make it to PL (or want to), the salary jumps even higher, and in the grander scheme of things, all of these salaries are no where near what you would earn as an MDP (Partner)
  • To be honest, C is a really tough role and joining as an SA may not be a bad thing
    • SA to C promotion is 1 year, which means that at the 9th month mark, you are already assessed by the evaluation committee (CDC) if you should be promoted on time, delayed, or counselled out
    • 9 months is probably about ~2-3 projects → this is really not a lot of time to ramp up and perform ‘at next level’
    • If you are also about relative placement and performance, take note that you are also competing with Associates (As) that have been doing this job for ~2 years before you as well
  • As i mentioned above, C is a really tough role. Many MBA hires of course go on to become PLs/Managers, but I've seen a fair share of them really suffer and have a hard time to get there, vs a home-grown Associate
    • C to Project Leader (PL) is 2 years promotion timeline
    • That means that at ~1.5 years, you are already going to be assessed as to whether you are going to be on time, delayed, or counselled out
    • To be promoted to PL, you have to demonstrate ‘at next level’ skills - which often means ‘mini-PLing’ → essentially having to manage maybe 1 or 2 As in your own workstream
    • This means that within 1-1.5 years, you not only have to develop, master and demonstrate the core consulting skills, BUT you also have to start demonstrating skills expected at the next level
  • In my personal experience, I'm happy I joined as an SA, and not as a C (even though my tenure at my previous T2 firm was equivalent to a C). It really gave me alot more time to adjust culturally, but also to make sure I had my fundamentals right before I started to lead teams

On the specific role differences between SA and C, I could talk in a lot more detail, at least in BCG what the expectations are. Happy to chat more - just reach drop me a dm

(edited)

Was this answer helpful?
Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 06, 2023
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

Congrats on the offer!

That is incorrect. As a PhD you should be starting as a consultant (and are actually lucky to have senior consultant).

Have you ever held a management position? Do you have 5+ years of high responsibility work experience? Then you should not start as project lead!

Remember, PhD hires generally come in AT the MBA position (consultant).

I highly recommend you do negotiate. However, personally, I would not negotiate on position but rather on compensation signing bonus, etc.)

Good luck!

Was this answer helpful?
Anonymous A on Feb 06, 2023

Hi, thanks for the feedback. I actually got the role below Consultant (below the post-MBA position, so senior associate) and was thinking for negotiating for the post-MBA role (consultant). Sorry if that was not clear in the question! Let me know if that changes things

Ian on Feb 06, 2023

Ah! I had read Senior Consultant. Apologies (or did you just now change it). Ok, yes, you should "try" to negotiate. Important question: Were you slated to interview as a Consultant and then they downgraded you? Because, it's possible that your performance in the interview resulted in them lowering your starting role.

Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 06, 2023
#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 question:

Q: I know that typically MBB and other firms offer MD's and PhD's the post-MBA position (i.e consultant), so I was wondering if it is worthwhile to negotiate for this higher role, or if I'm better off going in at a level below due to the lack of industry experience.

First of all, I would check on LinkedIn the position that candidates with your level of experience usually receive in that firm – it could well be that this particular company doesn’t offer the consultant level with your experience.

Then:

  • If that’s possible and you believe the consultant level fits your current skills, I would check with HR if there is a possibility to start there.
  • If that’s possible but you have doubts about whether the consultant level makes sense given your current skillset, you could try to negotiate a quick promotion window (eg 6 months) in case you have a good performance. In this way you can relatively quickly get to the level of salary you would like but at the same time have time to adapt to the new job.

Best,

Francesco

Was this answer helpful?
Hagen gave the best answer

Hagen

CoachingPlus Expert
Premium + Coaching Expert
Content Creator
#1 recommended coach | >95% success rate | most experience in consulting, interviewing, and coaching
602
Meetings
19,517
Q&A Upvotes
103
Awards
5.0
516 Reviews
How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or fellow student?
0 = Not likely
10 = Very likely
You are a true consultant! Thank you for consulting us on how to make PrepLounge even better!