Consulting Full Time Offer After 1 Year of Searching

Nikola's picture
Rank: Senior Monkey | 96

After 1 year of searching, 700 practice cases, and 200 informational interviews I got 2 job offers at two 2nd tier consulting firms.

I started searching in June of last year and spent my first three months networking. I managed to speak to about 150 people during that time (mainly through LinkedIn). I was able to secure three interviews during the fall of that year:

1. At a 2nd tier consulting firm, through a partner there.
2. At one of the MBB firms, through a recruiter I spoke to who liked my story.
3. At a boutique consulting firm, through an alumni of my school.

Unfortunately, none of these ended up working out. I made a lot of mistakes early on that could have been avoided if I had more experience. I've never had an internship or worked for a large company before and hadn't done very many interviews prior to this. All my experience has been in nonprofits + entrepreneurship. I had a lot of unique, interesting stories but it took awhile to learn the polish these companies are looking for.

Also, during the fall I crashed info sessions / job fairs at a few different colleges. For the most part I don't think this was all that effective but I did end up going to an info session for one of the firms I got an offer from. (Just to give some context I went to their info session, applied online and heard back about 6-7 months later).

I also did a *lot* of practice cases and behavioral interviews. Especially during November/December I pretty much spent all my time practicing. I'd sometimes do up to 12 hours of cases a day with different people through Skype. Pretty brutal, but I did get a chance to meet a lot of cool people..

Anyway, I started networking again around February of this year but I decided to take a slightly different strategy. I spent another 2-3 months networking and managed to get multiple people to submit my resume at 4-5 different firms as before, but also applied broadly to jobs in other industries through my college's career site.

This ended up being really helpful because I was able to practice interviewing in many different contexts.

Consulting recruitment is very time sensitive, and so a few weeks ago I finally started to hear back from recruiters. Once I got one job offer I was able to use my deadline to motivate the other firms I was interviewing with to either speed things up or drop me.

Anyway, WSO has been incredibly helpful throughout this process. I met many of my case partners through here and got a lot of great advice about how to network / interview. I wrote this post because when I was feeling down I would come here and read other people's success stories and get inspired again. Hopefully this story helps do the same for others. Thanks for everything!

Comments (34)

May 21, 2014

Wow, that is a lot of informational interviews. How senior of a position was this for if you don't mind me asking?

May 21, 2014

I am curious--what was your approach to networking? 150 people sounds like a very high number(if by speak, you actually mean phone calls). Did you focus on senior-level positions? or did you start at the bottom of the rung?

If you do not mind me asking, where did you end up? Inspiring story...all of the hard work paid off!

May 21, 2014

Congrats, OP!

May 21, 2014

I managed to speak to about 150 people during that time (mainly through LinkedIn)

LinkedIn is a life saver...

Congrats! Grab a beer, take a deep breath, and get ready for the rest of your life..

May 22, 2014

Thanks guys! This was for an analyst position. Yeah, these were almost all phone calls. In retrospect I could have been a lot more efficient if I'd just asked directly for a referral at the end of each conversation. Usually what I did was wait to see if they would offer, and if not then that was OK too.

But I ended up talking to a few salespeople at some of the non-consulting companies I interviewed at and they said that if you get to the point where a prospect is willing to have a conversation with you the odds are pretty good (50/50) that you can get a referral if you ask. So now I always do that. You just have to do it in a casual way (but, keep in mind even if someone agrees to help you very few people follow through so deal in numbers).

I started by talking to mainly analysts / associates in the beginning (last year) and after I got my story straight and such I aimed exclusively for partners because I found that was the most direct path to getting an interview. Only a small fraction of them generally responded to me (maybe 1 out of 10 or 1 out of 15), but I made up for it in volume.

Myron, you can PM me if you want more details.

    • 1
May 22, 2014

Congratulations OP

May 25, 2014

I cannot imagine the hardship and perseverance needed for this many months of networking, preparation, emailing, calling, and interviewing. You literally made my SA recruiting experience look like a walk in the park. In fact, it probably is compared to what you've been through.

I am so happy for you that you were able to post a success story, OP. And congratulations on what you landed, incredible job and you deserve every bit of it.

May 25, 2014

Great story, OP! I know IB recruiting is all about networking, how about consulting?

May 25, 2014

Congrats! 700 cases? Wowza.

May 25, 2014

Impressive motivation. Best of luck in your career. You seem good at creating your own luck though.

May 26, 2014

Awesome story. Congratulations, and best of luck with your future endeavors!

  • Intern in IB-M&A
May 26, 2014

What was your approach/strategy to networking?

May 26, 2014

Congrats man you earned it!

May 26, 2014

Where unemployed during this time? Or did you just graduate

May 26, 2014

Congrats! That was some serious effort!

May 26, 2014

Were you at a target or non-target? Rank? Congrats by the way!

May 26, 2014

Great job!

May 26, 2014

u had to do all that to land a 2nd tier firm? says a lot about 2nd tier firms

Best Response
May 26, 2014

To answer some of the questions I had already graduated from a non-target top 50 school in the US. During the job search process I was unemployed. The reason getting a consulting offer was so difficult was typically consulting firms only recruit straight from undergrad and MBA and I was somewhere in the middle of that work experience wise.

Networking was definitely extremely important, I wouldn't have gotten any interviews without it. My networking strategy was similar to what's recommended on here and M&I: cold email followed by phone call / meeting and asking for a referral.

What I did differently than what's recommended is that I didn't keep in touch with everyone and I tried to close immediately. I tried to make my phone call as interesting as possible for both of us. If the person offered or agreed to give me a referral I took it but I didn't try to keep in touch with people who I felt were disinterested. I also did everything by phone because in person meetings were too costly (both time and money wise).

Typically before a networking phone call I would research the person and their work. I would read everything they'd ever written and think up questions. When talking to them I'd ask them just the standard stuff, how they got into their line of work, their career path, projects they've been on, the questions I'd thought of beforehand, their opinion about specific industry trends I'd researched, what makes their firms unique / different, etc.

After I spoke to them I kept records about what we spoke about, how much of a connection I thought we had, and if / how they promised to help me further. If they did promise to help me further I kept following up (a lot of times I never heard back). That's why I tried to get 3-5 senior people at each firm to agree to help me, You need multiple backups.

Networking is 100% a number's game. The funny thing is a lot of times the people who ended up helping me out the most were the people who I never expected based on how different their backgrounds were from mine. It's all just really random.

    • 2
May 26, 2014

awesome story! Congrats and thanks for sharing with us. These stories also serve as great motivation for me as well! :-)

May 26, 2014
Nikola:

To answer some of the questions I had already graduated from a non-target top 50 school in the US. During the job search process I was unemployed. The reason getting a consulting offer was so difficult was typically consulting firms only recruit straight from undergrad and MBA and I was somewhere in the middle of that work experience wise.

Networking was definitely extremely important, I wouldn't have gotten any interviews without it. My networking strategy was similar to what's recommended on here and M&I: cold email followed by phone call / meeting and asking for a referral.

What I did differently than what's recommended is that I didn't keep in touch with everyone and I tried to close immediately. I tried to make my phone call as interesting as possible for both of us. If the person offered or agreed to give me a referral I took it but I didn't try to keep in touch with people who I felt were disinterested. I also did everything by phone because in person meetings were too costly (both time and money wise).

Typically before a networking phone call I would research the person and their work. I would read everything they'd ever written and think up questions. When talking to them I'd ask them just the standard stuff, how they got into their line of work, their career path, projects they've been on, the questions I'd thought of beforehand, their opinion about specific industry trends I'd researched, what makes their firms unique / different, etc.

After I spoke to them I kept records about what we spoke about, how much of a connection I thought we had, and if / how they promised to help me further. If they did promise to help me further I kept following up (a lot of times I never heard back). That's why I tried to get 3-5 senior people at each firm to agree to help me, You need multiple backups.

Networking is 100% a number's game. The funny thing is a lot of times the people who ended up helping me out the most were the people who I never expected based on how different their backgrounds were from mine. It's all just really random.

Wow that very inspiring and impressive to graduate without an internship or work experience and able to land an entry level gig at a consulting firm after a year of being unemployed.

May 27, 2014

congrats!

May 27, 2014

Amazing, it must have been crazy tough to be unemployed and searching for so long! How did you stay strong for so long?

Congrats on the offers!

May 30, 2014

Congrats and I mean that in all seriousness.. but...

Assuming I am understanding your post correctly, that is the dumbest shit I've ever heard in my life. 700 cases and 200 hundred informational interviews?? So you just called people out of the blue asking about their job and then hoping they'd go to bat for you based solely on that???

The key take away being, hundreds upon hundreds of phone calls, emails, "networking" and case working, is effectively useless because you walked away with 2 job offers (I'm assuming entry level) after a year and hundreds if not thousands of hours of work. As an aside, ACTUAL working experience more than likely would have gotten you a job quicker.

"Crashing" info sessions/job fairs at different colleges. Didn't go over well, and at best you got a business card you could have easily gotten through different means.. stated below.

First, get a few practice cases, review/polish them with outside effort to keep on file. Secondly, all firms have an HR department and top tier have recruiters at damn near every target or good school therefore THEY should be your point of contact, not someone you called out of the blue and not wasting the time of a partner.

More importantly your resume is meant to build a story, from the courses you take and leading into the INTERNSHIPS you pick up during college. I am talking Freshman (hard to get an internship as a Freshman), Sophomore and Junior year, it should be building a story leading up to the actual jobs you are applying for.

This should be a cautionary tale about how NOT to go about getting a job in consulting.

May 30, 2014
ArcherVice:

Congrats and I mean that in all seriousness.. but...

Assuming I am understanding your post correctly, that is the dumbest shit I've ever heard in my life. 700 cases and 200 hundred informational interviews?? So you just called people out of the blue asking about their job and then hoping they'd go to bat for you based solely on that???

The key take away being, hundreds upon hundreds of phone calls, emails, "networking" and case working, is effectively useless because you walked away with 2 job offers (I'm assuming entry level) after a year and hundreds if not thousands of hours of work. As an aside, ACTUAL working experience more than likely would have gotten you a job quicker.

"Crashing" info sessions/job fairs at different colleges. Didn't go over well, and at best you got a business card you could have easily gotten through different means.. stated below.

First, get a few practice cases, review/polish them with outside effort to keep on file. Secondly, all firms have an HR department and top tier have recruiters at damn near every target or good school therefore THEY should be your point of contact, not someone you called out of the blue and not wasting the time of a partner.

More importantly your resume is meant to build a story, from the courses you take and leading into the INTERNSHIPS you pick up during college. I am talking Freshman (hard to get an internship as a Freshman), Sophomore and Junior year, it should be building a story leading up to the actual jobs you are applying for.

This should be a cautionary tale about how NOT to go about getting a job in consulting.

Give the dude a break, it seemed to work out for him and he is happy about it. As is everyone else on this forum that doesn't have a stick up their ass.

@OP - Congrats on the offer man and enjoy your new career!

May 31, 2014

@monkeypoo

I'd be happy too after a year of searching to finally land a job. Seems like he basically worked against himself for the past year after squandering his time in college and by luck landed an actual job.

I'd be curious to see how many actual resumes and cover letters he sent into job applications, seems he kept track of all other metrics for determining his job search effort -- i.e 700 cases, 200 informational interviews and 150 different people.

As far as I can tell, he did not have a solid GPA through college, or invest the time and effort for gaining internships or recruiting events during school. The past is the past, but just calling people out of the blue for informational interviews is probably the most counter productive use of a year I can think of.

Instead of investing countless hours into 700 cases, perhaps he should have been applying to actual jobs rather than "networking", though I use the term loosely.

Jun 1, 2014

Nikola, thank you so much for that inspiring story. The struggle is real for everyone but your story is a testament to the truth that hard work and perseverance yields a 100% success rate in the long run. You appear to be a networking savant and I am glad to have learned some of your methods and the level of effort it takes. Thank you for sharing!

Benjamin A Gilman Scholar
Economics & Finance, Mandarin Chinese & Japanese
Small Business VP

Jun 2, 2014

Amazing story! Congratulations on a well deserved job offer!

I am kind of in a similar boat as far as trying to break into consulting from a diffrent career track is concerned, although I am working currently & have an MBA (you may remember answering my post last week about it).

That said, could you shed a bit more light on the following:

1. You said you did most informationals on the phone. did you do any at all in person? If so, did you perceive meeting in person to be more effective?

2. I do not mean to rub it in here but was entrepreneurship your fall back option because you did not have a job offer upon graduation? Were you called out on it in your interviews/informationals & how did you handle it?

3. What case interview practice resources did you use?

4. Did you practice behaviorals at all. Tips?

5. You said you had a lot of interesting stories but they needed to be polished up. I am sure this is true for many people. Any tips on the polishing part?

6. You said that you focused on partners in the later parts of you job search and that the response rate was very low for them. I would like to know if your first e-mail to them (assuming it was a cold e-mail) was relatively generic or highly targeted depending on their subject expertise or commonalities with your profile? In other words, did you e-mails say "I would like to talk to you because I want to break into consulting" or something like "I would like to get your take on XYZ subject matter as well as your advice for people with entrepreneurship backgrounds looking to break into consulting"?

Congratulations once again!

Jun 3, 2014

Congratz! I am also trying to transitions careers. Your post was inspiring and helpful.

Jun 3, 2014
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"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there" - Will Rogers

Jun 4, 2014