You may well have heard of the high-profile strategy consulting firms which offer excellent graduate programmes, but make sure you investigate all your options to find the employer that's right for you.
You could choose from a globally-renowed firm with offices around the world, a smaller partnership, a firm specialising in a particular area of consulting, a regional firm, and more.
But how do you research these options and choose between them? Here are the key steps to take:
Choosing a consulting employer to work for step 1: research yourself
Start by thinking about what you want from your consulting career and what your ideal consulting employer might look like.
Choosing a consulting employer to work for step 2: understand the consulting industry
Next, you need to get a good sense of all that’s out there in the consulting industry. There are many areas of the consulting industry and within each one there’s a range of different employers.
Choosing a consulting employer to work for step 3: think clients
Consulting firms often organise themselves around client sectors (such as pharmaceuticals or infrastructure). So identify which parts of the commercial world interest you and which consulting employers operate there.
Doing so will also help you at the application stage as many consulting employers are now looking for applicants to be interested in the client sectors they work in.
Choosing a consulting employer to work for step 4: find out what they really do
Don’t apply to a consulting employer if you only want to work in an area that’s a marginal part of its business. Instead, you should identify consulting employers whose core strengths match the areas of consulting and client sectors you’re interested in.
The size of different teams will often show you where a consulting employer's priorities lie.
Choosing a consulting employer to work for step 5: psychoanalyse the website
Always take a very close look at the websites of the consulting employers you think you might be interested in applying to.
News items about new joiners and new offices can tell you how the employer is hoping to develop. Press releases on recent activities show what work the employer is proudest of, while profiles of its employees give a sense of the type of people it actually recruits.
Choosing a consulting employer to work for step 6: up close and personal
There’s some information about a consulting employer that you’re only going to get by meeting its employees. But it’s important to get it right at careers fairs, open days and other recruitment events.
Target the people you particularly want to speak to and ask them sensible questions.
Choosing a consulting employer to work for step 7: get those extra marks
It's a good idea to find out about the employer's key leaders and its strategy. Knowing about these will mean you’ll understand the consulting employer in detail and can really tailor your application to suit it.
Attending consulting industry events such as conferences can also give you valuable information.