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A lottery or a science?

 
#1 A lottery or a science?
01/09/2005 11:17

Jakie

I am maturing the idea that getting an interview with a consulting company is a bit of a lottery, or a political science. Great academic achievements aren’t good enough without commercial experience, commercial experience isn’t good enough without great academic achievements, a well-rounded profile might also not be sufficient if the covering letter is not sharp enough or if, somehow, your CV out of a pile of 50 is overlooked. Consulting companies are well known for the sophistication of processes, for the applications of methodologies and for the use of best practice and technology. How are the CVs screened? Are there consistent criteria applied to the screening? And what percentage of new hires comes from referrals and friends of friends, what percentage from third parties agencies and what from firms’ websites and job boards?

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#2 Re: A lottery or a science?
01/09/2005 11:37

RecruitGal

Good commercial experience and good academics are normally essential particularly for experienced hires, but sadly the quality of the screening differs vastly in the industry. For firms that have outsourced their recruitment function, e.g. Accenture, the people who do the initial screen are normally well removed from the business, so use a very basic, simplified approach. Where recruitment remains closely tied to the business, the screening becomes a bit more sophisticated (I would say that, wouldn't I?). So in addition to the key job requirements, I am also looking for evidence of knowledge/experience in the current priority skills areas in the business (which change all the time). Having said all that, I am also looking for someone who can put together a coherent, professional CV - and you would be amazed, AMAZED, by some of the rubbish that ends up in my in-box... In terms of referrals, around 25% of our hires are based on referrals from current employees - which is nice.

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#3 Re: A lottery or a science?
01/09/2005 12:49

Concerned about interview criteria

Interesting thoughts Jakie, thanks. My gambit is: Answer 1. There is no one screening process for recruitment into the consulting industry. This is a quasi-oligopolistic mirage created by some, but not all, of the stakeholders involved in consultancy recruitment. Answer 2. No the criteria used are not consistent in the industry or in specific consultancies. However there is some consensus in the industry about the type of criteria they look at (you named some of the key ones). What is a 'must-have' criterion in one consultancy might be a 'would-like' tomorrow at their competitors. Some consultancies and/or the recruitment people in consultancies, will try to convince you that their criteria are 100% consistent, either because they think they are, or because they spin, but in the long term they do change. Answer 3. Good question, but difficult to measure in a meaningful way! How would you categorise people that found a role through more than one of these routes (e.g. The Candidate who uses the firms website, but also knows the HR Manager who reports to the HR Director who lunches sometimes with a Decision-Maker), would you count them 200%, 50%, 0%, ANO%? and how would you know in a survey that 'multi-routers' are describing themselves accurately? Obviously there are surveys that invite people to contribute and some of them get quite or very close to what is happening, others do not.

There is some luck in the process, afterall who really knows what might happen to an application when it arrives at some of these places. Some say leadership is an art form and management is a science. Others say that getting a consulting interview these days is a bit of a lottery, a bit of a science and a bit of a 'Je ne sais quoi'. What do you think the top criterion is for getting an interview in a consultancy? Did the booming public sector consultants make the whole thing far too political and unbusiness-like for the rest of us? Do you think questions are more important in consulting interviews than answers?

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#4 Re: A lottery or a science?
01/09/2005 15:48

Jakie

It is matter of being invited in the club, there is a way-in, like for any clubs, I need to find it and I will. It takes time and dedication. This website is a great thing, but I need to look for other places and other ways to meet new friends.

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#5 Re: A lottery or a science?
01/09/2005 20:04

Not concerned about these two

Well thanks - both of you - most interesting chat I had all day! In fact if someone said to me 'Which parts of our recruitment process should we outsource?' I reckon I could put together a fairly credible answer. I like the club analogy Jakie - very jet-set - it could certainly fly - it reminds me of better times in consulting! Plus you stopped me getting sucked into the Harvard then -> McKinsey? or Goldman Sachs? dilemna. Guess that will have to wait for another day! Makes me wonder why I never find enough time for state politics!

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#6 Re: A lottery or a science?
02/09/2005 11:08

Jakie

I was an innocent grad, 4 years ago when I moved to the UK and, like many grads, I thought the world of business was an amazing beautiful thing waiting for me with open arms. (I still think it is an amazing beautiful thing).Then, like most grads, reality hit me. And back to books, a real cynic needs to look for explanations to “natural” phenomena: the Prince of Machiavelli is a great strategy book, but you do need an interest in state politics. And recently on the FT Mr. Kay brought up from the dust another of my favourites, War and Peace. Now, to be a good recruiter who already is part of the club you probably don’t need to read Socrates and Plato, or Tolstoy. But for an outsider like me, inspirational books like these might help understand one or two things of Management Consulting and British society, and maybe help to become a management consultant or a successful (and rich) business man (or woman). But I also need more friends, let me see, what club would I like to be part of: Investment Bankers? Lawyers? Management Consultants? Entrepreneurs? I love you all!

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#7 Re: A lottery or a science?
08/09/2005 10:57

ACN

Jakie,

I am a manager in Accenture currently involved in experienced hire recruitment. Contrary to what Recruitgal says we have not outsourced our screening (only a preliminary check for academics) and screening is done by HR professionals and senior managers in the business. We tend to look for a few things straight off - career progression, no unexplained time gaps in the CV, right academics. We'll then read through the experience and check that against the job description. (We don't really care much about cover letters.)

For us, last year around 25% of new joiners came from referrals, with the remainder split between agencies and direct applications. Agencies are a good way to go as they'll only put you forward for jobs you actually match the requirements of, and can do more chasing on your behalf (for progress and for feedback). I hope this is useful, and good luck!

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