How do you change your reputation at the firm as a newbie?

I'm a bit over 4 months into my first FT job out of school in strategy consulting, and I have been unstaffed for 3.5 weeks. I don't know how concerning that is, but I want to get staffed soon as my utilization metric is dropping.

I've talked to a few directors and managers at my firm and people seem to be hinting at the fact that there's just not as much work in the pipeline, but I also do feel like I only have an "average" reputation as a first-year.

Specifically, I've received feedback that I need to work on my PPT and Excel skills, build more strategic acumen, and see the big picture better, and I feel like the EM on the last project didn't really like me.

So I'm wondering if my iffy performance on my last engagement (2nd project ever) is contributing to me being unstaffed and if so, how do I fix my rep?

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ConsultingQs, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Personal experience here so YMMV.

If your staffing model is national / across offices, your 'reputation' matters less than your performance on paper. Reputation in my use of the term is informal and based on word of mouth. Partners and managers in different practices and different offices don't communicate much so they won't know you by reputation - they will just see what's in your reviews.

If you have a lackluster performance on paper and are trying to get staffed outside your local office, I would focus on talking to managers and emphasizing interest in their projects. This is pretty much all you can do. If you do have a positive relationship with previous managers, try reaching out to them for projects or contacts. 

If you have a local staffing model or there are local projects you are interested in, the above advice still applies but you can also get involved with various office initiatives and improve your reputation with local managers that way. For instance if there's a partner who you help with non profit work at the firm, and you express interest in his projects, you will have a better shot than someone he has no relationship with.

The consulting pipeline is pretty slow right now so do try to give yourself a break and recognize it's not your fault you haven't been staffed in a while. I know a lot of people on the beach or doing non billable work currently. Speaking from experience, new people tend to over worry about not being staffed. Best of luck, and keep your head up!

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