Tier 2 firm don't value non-strategy consulting experience - what to do?

New answer on Jun 10, 2023
7 Answers
Anonymous A asked on Jun 08, 2023

Recently I've applied to a tier 2 firm and haven't received interview yet. Tier 2 firms at my region typically don't have structured “MBA hire" or “experienced hire” program like MBB. 

I have 1 year strategy consulting experience plus couple years of industry & big 4 transaction advisory experience plus an MBA from a top school. However, the HR's feedback was that my “strategy consulting experience” is “not enough” for a consultant role (post MBA equivalent). 

This seems quite different from my application experience at MBB, where they are open to candidates with diversified experience. 

I'm wondering how can I sell my-self and convince the hiring manager at the tier 2 firm that my non-strategy consulting experience can bring value to the firm and get interviewed?

Appreciate your advice.

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Best answer
replied on Jun 08, 2023
300+ coached cases | Former McKinsey interviewer + recruiting lead| End-to-end prep in 2 weeks


I understand your concerns. It's important to remember that every consulting firm has its own culture and preferences when it comes to hiring. In your situation, it sounds like you have a broad and valuable range of experiences that could certainly be relevant to strategy consulting.

One possible approach is to draw clear connections between your past experience and the skills required for a strategy consulting role. This could include things like analytical capabilities, project management, stakeholder management, and problem-solving, among others. You should highlight how you utilized these skills in your past roles and how they can be directly applicable to the consulting work at this Tier 2 firm.

When it comes to your industry experience, emphasize your understanding of specific sectors or markets, and how this can be valuable for clients in those industries. For your Big 4 experience, emphasize your ability to navigate complex deals and the financial acumen you developed.

In your communications with the firm, you should explicitly convey your passion for strategy consulting, why you are interested in their firm specifically, and how your unique background makes you a good fit.

Lastly, you may find it helpful to network with employees at the firm, including those who have made a similar transition. This can give you insights on how to tailor your application and might help your profile get noticed.

Best of luck!

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Content Creator
replied on Jun 08, 2023
#1 McKinsey Coach by rating & recommendation rate

Hi there, 

Sorry to hear you haven't been successful with your applications yet. 

I would optimize for two things:

1. CV - Make sure that you CV is reflecting exactly the sort of skills and experience that recruiters look for. Working with a coach on this one is a minor investment that already positions you within the top 10% of candidates. What matters is not so much your experience, but how it's communicated in a persuasive way that emphasizes the sort of skills and profile that recruiters look for. 

2. Volume - It's not a great time for job applications. The environment is competitive and consulting firms are tougher than usual. My advice is to apply to more firms and change your priority from getting into a specific firm, to transitioning into the industry (just so that later on you can transition into your preferred firm once the economy stabilises). I laid out the steps of this in the guide below:


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Content Creator
replied on Jun 09, 2023
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

Q:  How can I sell myself and convince the hiring manager at the tier 2 firm that my non-strategy consulting experience can bring value to the firm and get interviewed?

It seems your experiences are good. It could be a matter of how you are displaying them in your CV/Cover or the fact that you need a referral.

Overall you want to work on three main things for your application, as summarized below.

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1) CV

The key elements they will look for and that you can optimize are:

  • University brand
  • Major
  • GPA
  • Work experience
  • Experience abroad
  • Extracurriculars and volunteer experience

Some of the key things to consider for a good CV are:

  1. Use action verbs to describe the experiences (eg “Led…; Analyzed…) and use a structure of Action - Results
  2. Quantify results. If you find it challenging to define numbers, you can use the number of countries/clients/forecasted results
  3. Show experience related to leadership or teamwork. A good number of candidates have points on problem-solving and drive to achieve results, but lack experiences related to working in a team.
  4. Show relevant extracurricular activities and interests. They make the profile more interesting and help to show leadership skills when you are junior

Red flags include:

  • Low GPA
  • Lack of any kind of work experience
  • Bad formatting / typos
  • 3-4 pages length
  • Lack of clear action --> results structure for the bullets of the experiences
  • Long paragraphs (3-4 lines) for the bullets of the experiences with irrelevant details
  • Long time gaps without any explanation

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You can structure a cover in 4 parts:

  1. Introduction, mentioning the position you are interested in and a specific element you find attractive for that company
  2. Why you are qualified for the job, where you can report 3 skills/stories from your CV, ideally related to leadership, impact, drive and teamwork
  3. Why you are interested in that particular firm, with additional 1-2 specific reasons
  4. Final remarks, mentioning again your interest and contacts

In part 2 you can write about experiences that show skills useful in consulting such as drive, problem-solving, leadership, teamwork and convincing others.

It is important that in part 3 you make your cover specific to a particular firm – the rule of thumb is, can you send the exact same cover to another consulting company if you change the name? If that’s the case, your cover is too generic.

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To find a referral, you should follow three steps:

  1. Identify the people that can help you
  2. Write to them a customized email
  3. Have a call and indirectly ask for a referral

You can find more information on networking and referrals here:

▶ How to Get an MBB Invitation 

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After you managed to get an invitation you need to find out how to pass the interview. You can find more on that at the link below.

▶ How to Prepare for an MBB Interview

Good luck!


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Content Creator
replied on Jun 09, 2023
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

A few things you need to do on your resume:

  1. Make your resume look better
  2. Tailor your resume (switch to consulting-based words/actions)
  3. Get consulting experience (in a few weeks you can easily add a few pro-bono/experiential programs)

In parallel you need to NETWORK. Networking is how you can get around a weaker/less directly consulting resume.

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replied on Jun 10, 2023
Lowest price for Top-Ranked Coach on PrepLounge| McKinsey San Francisco | Harvard graduate | 6+ years of coaching


My guess would be that that’s just the firm’s hiring policy, unfortunately. I don’t think you’d be able to do much to convince them otherwise. However, that’s not to say there isn’t a role for you at this company: I would recommend having a conversation with HR to understand what role might be more suitable for you there, given your experience. If they aren’t willing to hire you as a consultant, would they be willing to hire you as (+ would you be interested in) a junior consultant role, for instance? 

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Content Creator
replied on Jun 09, 2023
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer with ~5 years of interviewing experience


Seems like a not so typical situation, given that you already have an MBA and most T2 firms do also hire from MBA, so I'm guessing your region is rather small/still a nascent market.

Couple things I would do:

  1. Try for the same firm (if you really want this firm/only option)
    • Reach out and network with actual consultants, ideally manager and above, Partner if ideal
      • While this is kind of like going behind HR's back, the reality is that a Partner agreeing to interview you has much more weight
    • Angle your industry experience to position yourself as an industry expert
      • If you have 3-4 years of the same industry, it could be an angle especially if its a growth area in your region
  2. Try for other firms
    • Given you already have been kind of ‘turned down’ by HR once, the likelihood of them changing their minds might be abit low 
    • You could always try and apply for other firms who would recognize your experience more

All the best!

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replied on Jun 09, 2023
Bain | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger |Former Head Recruiter | Market Sizing

MBB's hire post-MBA consultants without any previous consulting experience - they treat is as an entry level role, assuming people have the grit and a strong sense of ownership to quickly perform well in the role.

It may be the case that your T2 doesn't really want to have the effort in training people, and wants someone ready to hit the ground running. It's kind of obvious you probably have (several years of experience + 1 year strategy consulting + top MBA)… but if they are looking for more years of strategy experience… then they are looking for that.

I don't think the best approach is to try to change your prospective employers' mind, but instead to make sure you reach out to firms who are looking for people like you. Other than that, just be confident in the interview and state that you've performed well before in that strategy role and be ready to provide good examples of leadership (read: “sense of ownership”, taking the initiative, managing others including peers, clients and upwards).

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Emily gave the best answer


300+ coached cases | Former McKinsey interviewer + recruiting lead| End-to-end prep in 2 weeks
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