Fired from prestigious consulting firm - been unemployed for 6 months - HELP

nsw515's picture
Rank: Chimp | 6

First a little about me.

I graduated with a liberal arts major and a high GPA from a 'target' school in 2011. Shortly thereafter I began working at a small strategy consulting firm in NY (V50 firm).

After 1 year at this job, I was told I had to leave due to 'poor performance' and was forced to resign, albeit in good standing.

This literally blindsided me, as I had great rapport with my colleagues and loved my job. I think part of my firing had to do with the fact that there was not a lot of work and a new crop of analysts coming in, but I'm not entirely sure.

Fast forward 6 months later and I still haven't been able to find a job.

I need help with the following:

1) Any business/finance/consulting jobs that I could apply to that would give me an interview despite only 1 year of experience and a 6 month resume gap.

2) Coming up with a plausible story for why I resigned from my last position without a job lined up. After all, what inexperienced recent graduate would be stupid enough to leave a high-paid, prestigious position by choice in this economy? My lack of a solid story is really killing me in my cover letters and interviews.

3) Advice on how to bridge the resume gap. Do I have any hope having been out of work for this long?

4) Can I ever get a top MBA? Or will my application be trashed because of this whole fiasco with my first job and the subsequent unemployment stint?

5) Should I just give up on business and try for med school or something at this point, even if it's something I'm only mildly interested in? I'm determined to lead a upper middle-class lifestyle, but I just have no idea if I can get there now in the 'business world' given what happened with my 1st job.

Thanks for all your responses in advance guys. Truly appreciated.

Comments (26)

Feb 4, 2013

This happened to me too a year into working at a prestigious consulting firm from an Ivy league. It's pretty often for consulting for the people who by bad luck had the lowest chargeables.

I'd change your resume to include the years only and not months to prevent HR from immediately dinging you. Also create a credible personal story of why you left. They don't like to hear that you've been terminated. I said I left to move with my bf to a different city. As long as you believe it and they do too. And do not bash your old job because they can sniff a bitter employee.

    • 1
Feb 4, 2013
z:

This happened to me too a year into working at a prestigious consulting firm from an Ivy league. It's pretty often for consulting for the people who by bad luck had the lowest chargeables.

I'd change your resume to include the years only and not months to prevent HR from immediately dinging you. Also create a credible personal story of why you left. They don't like to hear that you've been terminated. I said I left to move with my bf to a different city. As long as you believe it and they do too. And do not bash your old job because they can sniff a bitter employee.

Thanks for the advice z.

How long did it take you to find another job, and was it in a related field?

Best Response
Feb 4, 2013

I was laid off during the dark days of 2008 from a consulting position since we were bringing in zero work. It took me 8 months to find something new. It took another 3+ years after that to get back to a prestigious consulting firm. I took a shitty job and killed it there, leveraged that into something slightly less shitty, repeat as needed, then networked into my current job. Probably not the news you wanted to hear, the economy is better now so it may be easier but you'll have to hustle. I have no desire for an MBA right now so I can't comment on that, but by no means are your upper middle class dreams crushed.

    • 2
Feb 4, 2013

Thanks for the advice jos.a. A few follow up questions (I'd PM you but I don't have enough bananas...)

What did you do in those 8 months between positions? How did you address your resume gap? How did you frame your lay-off to potential employers?

Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much.

Feb 5, 2013
nsw515:

Thanks for the advice jos.a. A few follow up questions (I'd PM you but I don't have enough bananas...)

What did you do in those 8 months between positions? How did you address your resume gap? How did you frame your lay-off to potential employers?

Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much.

I agree with the guy that said don't take the first thing that comes along unless other circumstances require you to have something. I held out for a while because there are many positions that will limit you if you can't spin them correctly. My first job back was a middle office type position at a F100, so when I say shitty that's kind of relative.

In between, I looked for contract positions with no luck and essentially did nothing aside from study finance and apply for jobs. Back then, interviewers were much more accepting of the truth that I had been laid off since it was happening to so many people so that's how I sold it. I'm not sure how well that will go over in this environment anymore. I would do as the other guy suggested and take the months off the resume (I did as well) and look for a small consulting project on LinkedIn or short term contract work. It will be a bit easier to talk about the gap in your resume if you're at least currently doing or have done something recently.

Feb 4, 2013

It took me 8 months to find another jobs and it was in a related field. Just a less prestigious consulting firm, I did consulting at an accounting firm. I did this by intense networking, cold calling and volunteering at a capital markets charity where I schmoozed with enough people. It's honestly a numbers game, you're going to run and interact with people who know you were laid off, but you only need 1 to fall for your story. Also, set some standards, don't just accept your first offer.

Feb 4, 2013

BCG to Deloitte wasn't so bad. Now I'm on track for my MBA and you can do the same! Good luck

    • 1
Feb 7, 2013

@z, if you are okay with it, would you mind pm'ing me and sharing a little bit more about your story? As a current BCG associate, I'm surprised to hear this, as we've generally been told that no one gets counseled out before their second review...

Feb 7, 2013
hl12:

@z, if you are okay with it, would you mind pm'ing me and sharing a little bit more about your story? As a current BCG associate, I'm surprised to hear this, as we've generally been told that no one gets counseled out before their second review...

This is not directed to me but I recall a MIT guy who wrote that scathing article about his time in BCG Dubai and he got managed out after 5 months. I know a few people who work for BCG in some emerging markets got pushed out because there aren't that many projects. Sometimes it can be pure lack (or rather the lack of it)

My formula for success is rise early, work late and strike oil - JP Getty

Feb 5, 2013

I'm kind of in a similar situation, haven't worked in consulting but been doing something else for two years, finding it hard to break in and also want to live that upper-middle class life. If you did medical school, would you do a post-bac pre-med program, or did you have enough science undergrad credits?

Feb 6, 2013

My old consulting firm would ask people they were going to fire to resign. Why?? So they could avoid being responsible for paying unemployment benefits. So as much as you think you are saving yourself embarrassment you could be screwing yourself.

Also it's much more likely they don't want you because they don't have the clients to staff you on then you aren't performing if it came that suddenly without any counseling, but of course they aren't going to say that.

I wouldn't sweat the gap, I think everyone knows the market is rough just pitch it as you could be doing x,y,z but really wanted to do what you are interviewing for and it's worth the wait for the right job/fit.

If you want to do an MBA you should be volunteering, doing some leadership crap now and you can spin it as a hiatus or some sort of trans-formative life experience or opportunity. (thats what admission offices want to hear)

https://www.lexisnexis.com/community/labor-employm...

Feb 6, 2013

I would look to do a pre-experience Master in Finance type program which admits primarily based on academics rather than work experience. Cambridge MPhil Finance, for example, is only for candidates with MS Accounting & Finance, Cambridge : MPhil Finance, Oxford: MSc Financial Economics. These programs all place well and have a high chance of getting you into front-office finance, and from there you can decide if you also want an MBA. There are also great U.S. programs like MIT, Princeton, Columbia, Berkely, and Chicago but they're primarily "quant" based, and I don't know if you'd have the prerequisite math courses to be admitted as a "liberal arts" major. Many of these programs are only 1 year in length (and the British schools in particular are cheap) so you'll be back on your feet in no time if you can get in.

Feb 6, 2013

Don't be a douche, don't lie about being fired. While it may not seem like a big deal now, you essentially have the rest of your career for the cat to come out of the bag. You think being fired once is bad, imagine getting fired in 5 years because someone from your old firm came over.

I was fired in August and took a job in October (Granted i was underemployed) the first step is getting back on your feet. Telling my story now is exponentially easier since I'm working. I'd consider different types of work and really stressing "it wasn't the right fit" in interviews. Also, don't mention it in your cover letter. People are able to put the pieces together; be candid about it in an interview and people will appreciate that.

There have been people fired from Barclays for libor manipulation and all kinds of unethical shit that get hired on the buy-side, or another big firm. Long story short, it could always be worse.

Feb 7, 2013

Thanks for all the responses guys. Quick question for you...

I have the opportunity to take a part-time 'professional volunteer' position at a NGO - it's a worthwhile cause, but it's not quantitative AT ALL and would mostly involve just researching and writing.

Should I throw this at the top of my resume and spin it the best I can, just so I can get the "- Present" at the top? My fear is that my resume will get tossed b/c it looks like I'm just some political geek with no business applying for a consulting/finance position - but perhaps it's less likely to get tossed than the resume of a long-term unemployed ex-consultant.

Thanks.

Feb 7, 2013

Haven't been in this situation so take advice with a grain of salt.

If I wanted to get back to business I'd join a startup or NGO for some time to give a credible story of why you left consulting to "pursue your passions". From there you can head back to business (directly or through bschool) or attempt something else.

Note: You should only do this if you are interested in the startup or nonprofit worlds and would actually enjoy/be successful at the work and add value to the organization. Don't be a "user"

After your deal I'd consider forgetting the big business path, picking up some programming (or whatever other skills - maybe youre more sales guy), and taking a shot at the entrepreneurial part. You have relatively little to lose, right?

Feb 7, 2013
dazedmonk:

Haven't been in this situation so take advice with a grain of salt.

If I wanted to get back to business I'd join a startup or NGO for some time to give a credible story of why you left consulting to "pursue your passions". From there you can head back to business (directly or through bschool) or attempt something else.

Note: You should only do this if you are interested in the startup or nonprofit worlds and would actually enjoy/be successful at the work and add value to the organization. Don't be a "user"

After your deal I'd consider forgetting the big business path, picking up some programming (or whatever other skills - maybe youre more sales guy), and taking a shot at the entrepreneurial part. You have relatively little to lose, right?

Can you clarify what you mean by "forget the big business path"?

Also - I haven't done any volunteering since being canned as I've been overly focused on landing another gig (stupid, I know), so the whole "I left to pursue my passions" part won't really make sense...

Feb 9, 2013
nsw515:
dazedmonk:

Haven't been in this situation so take advice with a grain of salt.

If I wanted to get back to business I'd join a startup or NGO for some time to give a credible story of why you left consulting to "pursue your passions". From there you can head back to business (directly or through bschool) or attempt something else.

Note: You should only do this if you are interested in the startup or nonprofit worlds and would actually enjoy/be successful at the work and add value to the organization. Don't be a "user"

After your deal I'd consider forgetting the big business path, picking up some programming (or whatever other skills - maybe youre more sales guy), and taking a shot at the entrepreneurial part. You have relatively little to lose, right?

Can you clarify what you mean by "forget the big business path"?

Also - I haven't done any volunteering since being canned as I've been overly focused on landing another gig (stupid, I know), so the whole "I left to pursue my passions" part won't really make sense...

I mean I'd think about not trying to pursue carrers in consulting/banking/buyside and focus on other interests. Once again though, that's largely driven by my interest in other things I think could be equally fulfilling / profitable.

Feb 9, 2013

Also, if you start some NGO/something now you could gloss over the time and say you were just in the process of finding something that interested you or something. I think people freak out way too much about "gaps in your resume".

Feb 10, 2013

sorry to hear of your situation. I think you need to widen your job search, and not only focus on strategy consulting. Cast a wider net, network, and also take a look at operational consulting firms. with your background and experience, you would be a competitive candidate, as long as you have the right contact pulling for you.

Jul 23, 2013

op how are you doing now? Did you find a job that you like?

Jul 25, 2013

just lie about traveling

Jul 26, 2013

Don't "lie about traveling." This is the way that unemployed losers and perpetually low-level employees think. You'll have to come up with and stick to a story about the places that you traveled to and what you did in those places. Eventually, it's going to come up. What you should have done is gotten an explanation for why they wanted you to leave. At least then, you'd have some meat to your story.

DON'T just include the years. Hiring managers and HR personnel aren't stupid...you think that they aren't aware of these low-level tactics? If I see a resume that includes only years, I IMMEDIATELY assume that the person is a job-hopper or has been frequently terminated, and he/she usually goes directly into the "skipped" pile.

As far as the end of the OP goes, you seem like some guy who doesn't have a clue and who's just chasing an "upper-middle class lifestyle." You probably haven't done any real work to change your situation, but you're ready to completely change careers after 6 months...really? You don't seem particularly serious about finance, business or anything else, so I didn't waste any specific advice in this post.

Jul 26, 2013

how should the OP bounce back to get a job? what are the steps that the OP should take assuming that he/she knows what career to pursue?

I think that would be helpful to the OP and other monkeys in a similar situation

Mar 4, 2017

Oh yes.

Jul 26, 2013
Comment
Aug 19, 2013