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Your consulting competition

Get to know your competition: five useful things to know about other consulting job seekers

When it comes to competing for a prize, you can choose to be inspired by and emulate your competition, or you can choose to be as different as possible, so that you’ll stand out. Whatever your tactic, it’s always useful to know what you’re up against.
Chatting with someone who works at a firm you’re interested in can gain you invaluable information, and it could be a chance to impress.

If the prize in question is a graduate job in consulting, we’d suggest learning as much as possible about the other candidates going for the role. What are their priorities? What sort of employers appeal most to them? What are they doing to boost their employability? TARGETjobs can help you start your detective work.

We’ve taken a look at the results of the Graduate Survey 2018, the largest and most comprehensive investigation of students’ attitudes towards their job hunts in the UK, so that you can see how you measure up against students who are also interested in getting careers in consulting after they graduate. You can find the results in a handy infographic, below.

The Graduate Survey is conducted by Trendence UK, a partner of TARGETjobs’ owner Group GTI. 73,517 students took part – here, we focus on the results from those students who expressed an interest in working for consulting employers.

Find out more about the methodology behind the Graduate Survey 2018

Compare yourself with your peers in consulting

We’ve put together the five most interesting facts about your competition:

1. LinkedIn is the place to be seen for graduate consulting candidates

A whopping 86% of students interested in graduate careers in consulting choose LinkedIn over other social media when it comes to looking for a career. This is the highest percentage out of all the sectors we surveyed, which suggests that if you’re not on LinkedIn yet you probably should be, even if only to find out what all the fuss is about. You’ll likely be impressed: through LinkedIn, you can connect with consulting professionals, alumni from your university and professional groups such as the MCA (Management Consultancies Association), which will help to boost that all-important commercial awareness. Make sure you read our advice on how to set up and make the most of your account.


2. Fairs and workshops lead the way when it comes to meeting employers

Would-be consultants’ top two methods of engaging with recruiters are stands at careers fairs and on-campus careers workshops. If you’ve not considered either of these, go along at your next opportunity and find out what you could be missing. Chatting with someone who works at a firm you’re interested in can gain you invaluable information, and it could be a chance to impress. We’ve got advice on how to create the best impression when it comes to meeting recruiters at events.

3.Consulting candidates like to go big

The vast majority of students interested in graduate consulting careers want to work at a large international firm, 42% of those surveyed (only 15% want to work for a large UK-based firm, and 10% at an SME), and 74% think international interactions are important or very important factors when choosing an employer. Happily, most of the consulting employers advertising on TARGETjobs have a global presence. Size may affect the training you receive and the career development opportunities available, and the strength of a company’s international networks will affect your opportunities to work in other countries. But remember, size isn’t everything. You need to take other factors such as culture, training, projects, opportunities to progress and so on into account when deciding whom to apply to – check out the employer hubs on TARGETjobs for starters, to get a sense of the different types of employers.


4. Internships are a popular choice

A large minority of students interested in consulting careers will have completed an internship of two months or more – 45%, in fact – by their final year. This is higher than the average, which is 33%. Three quarters of consulting employers advertising on offer work experience, so why not take the opportunity to get ahead of the competition? Candidates with real business experience are highly sought after when it comes to the selection process and, as in other sectors, a successful internship could set you up for a graduate position. Structured ten-week summer internships offered to penultimate-year students are most common, although some firms offer year-round opportunities. We’ve got lots of advice for you on how to make the most of your internship. 45% of course leaves many students who have not done an internship – if this is you there is no reason to panic (we’ve got advice for you too!).


5. Science, economics and business studies are the degrees of choice for would-be consultants

The top six most common subjects of study for students interested in consulting careers are: business management, computer science, economics, mathematical science, natural science and politics. But don’t panic – this doesn’t mean that these are the degrees most sought by consulting recruiters. In fact, almost every consulting employer we speak to stresses that they welcome students from all degree backgrounds. Diversity in their firms is something consultants pride themselves on. Neranjana De Silva, a senior project manager at Roland Berger, commented last year when we interviewed her: ‘There is no "right" profile. We have a diverse set of people working with us, with more than a dozen nationalities and people who studied a mix of subjects such as arts, languages, history, engineering and economics.’ So, if you studied one of these six subjects, you can rest assured you’re in good company. And if you didn’t, you can rest assured you’ll bring a welcome difference into the mix!

What is important to you?

More than half of students interested in consulting careers say that a good work/life balance is very important to them. Everyone expects to work hard in consulting, but the good news is that most employers try hard to make sure their employees have a good balance, and consulting is known for not having a ‘face-time’ culture. Think about your priorities. What sort of things are most important to you in the workplace, and who are the employers that can offer this to you?