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Deciding which consulting firm to apply to

Which consulting firm should you apply to?

Most consulting firms offer their graduates an exciting mix of training, travel, project work, early client contact and increasing responsibility, but there are of course differences between firms. Read our advice on how to get hired by the consulting employer that suits you best.
Is there a specific style of training or qualifications you’re looking for?

When you’re thinking about which employer would suit you best, consider the elements that will affect you the most. There are five key areas you should consider before sending off your application(s). 

1. What sort of work does the consulting firm do?

Some consulting firms will specialise in a particular service, or function, such as strategy, and some will focus on a particular industry. Many will operate across a variety of both. Do you have a preference? Would you like your graduate programme to keep your options open, and give you a broad experience, or would you prefer to work somewhere where you can specialise sooner? 

2. How much travel will your job involve?

Most consulting firms will require you to do some travelling – this is often cited as a reason graduates find the profession so exciting. To understand your clients’ businesses, you’ll usually need to spend time at client sites, working closely with clients and colleagues in your team. However, some firms require less travel than others. Additionally, for some, travel will be primarily UK based, whereas others will take you almost anywhere in the world. Roland Berger, for example, tells its candidates: ‘Over 75% of our work includes cross-border challenges.’ OC&C Strategy Consultants, on the other hand, is known to require less travel than other firms. ‘There’s a focus on strategy and I get to be primarily based in the London office rather than spending all my time on the client site,’ says a graduate consultant via TARGETjobs Insider Reviews. It’s very much a case of personal preference – try to find a firm that offers you the travel experience you’ll be comfortable with. 

3 .What opportunities will you be offered?

Is it important to you that your company will give you the chance to do a sponsored MBA after a few years? Is there a specific style of training or qualifications you’re looking for? All the firms advertising on targetjobs.co.uk offer excellent training programmes for graduates, but there will be differences between them. A smaller firm may not be able to offer the range of training options that a larger firm may be able to, for example. Plus, think of your future: does training continue as you progress through the firm? Do secondments and sabbaticals matter to you? What is the promotion structure? 

4. What sort of reputation does a firm have?

Some firms have global reputations and/or are recognised as leaders in their fields – how much does this matter to you?  Some have a reputation for offering really great job security – Oliver Wyman, for example, stresses that it is looking for ‘future leaders’ rather than ‘two-year employees’ – whereas others have an ‘up or out’ policy. The best way to discover a firm’s reputation is to speak with its alumni, read the business press, and of course the TARGETjobs Insider Reviews.

5. Will a firm’s culture be right for you?

It can be more difficult to discern a firm’s culture from the outside, than, say, its training opportunities. But you can get a ‘feel’ for a firm by attending employer presentations and speaking with representatives at careers fairs. Consulting involves long hours working within a team, so do you feel you connect with the people you have met? Would you feel comfortable spending long hours with them? You can also get a good sense of a firm’s culture through its social media channels: 88% of students interested in consulting careers use LinkedIn… if this isn’t you, perhaps it should be.

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