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Mid-career advice needed

 
#1 Mid-career advice needed
19/08/2011 11:41

MarkFrankKelly

I am determined to enter the consulting industry. The introduction to my CV reads:

PROFILE

A history of successful and rapid orientation into a range of legal, commercial, research, educational and voluntary positions/team-working environments, I am seeking my first position within management consulting.

SUMMARY OF KEY SKILLS

Communicating at multiple levels in a diverse range of settings; carrying out desk/action-based research; writing for advisory, educational, training, publishing and awareness-raising purposes; assimilating, organizing, evaluating and responding decisively and creatively to information; operating under pressure in demanding, time-critical, contract/project-based situations; negotiating in cross-functional team environments; delivering training to legal, healthcare, social work, educational and project management professionals; organizing seminars/continuing professional development meetings/awareness-raising events; identifying and gaining commitment of keynote speakers; initiating, developing and maintaining relationships of trust, confidence and understanding.

About 6 years ago I was interviewed by McKinsey. At the time I was not prepared to enter the consulting industry. I am about to turn 38 and what I could really do with is some mentoring support before securing my first position within consulting. Although called to the Bar in 1997, a legal career has never appealed and my opportunistic meandering since has allowed me to experience in-house legal affairs (clinical research), pharmaceutical sales, university research and teaching (human rights).

I would really appreciate any comments, tips, pointers, recommended reading etc that might help me on my way.

Gratefully,

M

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#2 RE: Mid-career advice needed
19/08/2011 14:34

Tony Restell (Top-Consultant.com) to MarkFrankKelly (#1)

M - let me start by saying that your appeal as a candidate to a consulting firm is based on two things, not dissimilar I suspect to a law practice:

1) are you readily billable to clients, ie. what sector or functional experience are you going to bring to the firm that its clients are crying out for?

2) can you bring in substantial sales of new consulting assignments?

The opening paragraphs of your CV need to be built around selling the recipient that you are a strong candidate based on one or both of the above points; and as much as possible this should be based on hard verifiable facts about your track record that you and only you can claim, rather than generic "strong leader, great team player" type stuff that anyone can trot out (so the above CV would need totally reworking).

More profoundly, you need to look at your professional experience and answer genuinely whether you're a credible consulting candidate based on either 1) or 2) above. I would caution you that McKinsey have over the years had a quite innovative hiring policy of looking to attract candidates from consulting and beyond. So they historically have had campaigns targetting doctors, lawyers, etc. and offering them a change of career direction. However this is the exception rather than the norm amongst consulting firms - and even at McKinsey I would imagine is likely to have been aimed at making hires amongst late twenty / early thirtysomethings. At that age having a strong analytical / inquisitive mind and ability to work under pressure can be enough for you to be a valuable team member; but at the age you are at now - and the level that firms would be bringing you in at - I would say you would be expected to have deep sector expertise and / or the proven ability to sell consulting services.

It might be worth trying to engage someone at McKinsey - based on the strength of their previous interest in you - to gauge whether there's any interest in interviewing you again. My own gut instinct says that if they don't show interest in you - given their willingness to "hire outside the mould" and the previous interest they had in you - then you are likely to find it an uphill struggle elsewhere in consulting, at least amongst the global brands. Possibly a small niche practice might give you a route into the industry, where your broader skillset may be more valuable - and therefore open the door to you joining a more established brand name in years to come. But based on the information you've presented this looks like a tough ask.

I hope this is helpful, even if not overly encouraging.

Tony Restell

Top-Consultant.com

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#3 RE: Mid-career advice needed
19/08/2011 15:07

MarkFrankKelly to Tony Restell (Top-Consultant.com) (#2)

Really helpful thanks Tony.

V best,

M

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#4 age
19/08/2011 15:49

catcher to deleted (#0)

as in your previous post you mentioned age, i am only 29

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#5 RE: Mid-career advice needed
22/08/2011 01:37

Corona to catcher (#4)

Catcher,

My advice - be careful posting a link to your personal details (inc phone number) on a public website.

Also, your MSc dissertation title should have included 'affecting', not 'effecting'.

C.

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