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

Whether you want to emulate your competition or be as different as possible, it’s always useful to know what you’re up against.

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Almost every consulting employer we speak to stresses that they welcome students from all degree backgrounds.

We’d suggest learning as much as possible about the other candidates going for the role you want. 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 2019, 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.

We’ve compiled some of the most interesting results from the Graduate Survey 2021, 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.

The Graduate Survey was conducted by Cibyl, a partner of TARGETjobs’ parent company Group GTI. 67,688 university students and graduates responded to the survey and we are focusing on the students who expressed an interest in working in consulting.

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

1. LinkedIn is where it's at for graduate consulting candidates

A massive 88% of students interested in graduate careers in consulting choose LinkedIn over other social media when it comes to looking for a career. 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. Would-be consultants can’t get enough of their careers service

Those interested in consulting are engaging with their careers services, and benefitting from doing so. The proportion of would-be consultants applying for an opportunity provided by the careers service and finding this effective is 8% higher than the average across all sectors, at 54%. The percentage using other services or tools (eg CV review services and practice video interviews) and finding these effective is 6% higher than average, at 53%.

Would-be consultants also use – and benefit from – the below methods of engagement 5% more than the average across other sectors:

  • viewing jobs, placements, internships or other opportunities
  • engaging with careers information provided on webpages, articles, videos, podcasts etc
  • attending an online appointment
  • attending a virtual careers workshop
  • attending a virtual employer event or careers fair.

Of course, the large numbers making the most of online and virtual activities is partly as a result of the pandemic and resulting increase in this method of engagement.

You should ensure you take up all the relevant opportunities provided by your careers service, too, by checking its website to keep on top of the events and services it offers. Discover more about making the most of your careers service here, including the potential benefits of employability awards they often run.

3. Consulting applicants are adaptable entrepreneurs

…who can problem solve. Those interested in consulting were most likely to include problem solving in their top five ranked skills – that they are most confident in (23%). When compared to the average proportion of students in all sectors that ranked certain skills in their top five, graduates interested in consulting are particularly more confident in their adaptability (20% put this top, compared with an 18% average) and entrepreneurship (21% put this top, compared with a 19% average).

So, make sure you also have these in your skills set by finding out how to become:

4. Many graduate consultant candidates have work experience

56% of those interested in consulting have had a part-time job (compared with a 53% average across all sectors) and 38% have undertaken an internship (compared with a 30% average).

You should definitely try follow in the footsteps of your fellow consultant candidates who have work experience to put on their CV. Those with real business experience are highly sought after when it comes to the selection process for consulting positions 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. More than half of would-be consultants have not done an internship, however – if this is you there is no reason to panic; we’ve got advice for you too:

5. Would-be consultants come from many different degree backgrounds

The most common areas of study for students interested in consulting careers are: business and management, social sciences, computing and mathematical sciences. As you can see, this is a pretty varied mix. And 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 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 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?

The factors that graduate consultant candidates regard as important or highly important when deciding upon an employer are good career prospects (97%), training and development (96%) and interesting work (94%). 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?

If you're keen to find out more about how you measure up against the competition, consider taking the Graduate Benchmark test, to get an employer's eye-view on how your performance compares to that of your peers.

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