The Toronto consulting recruit is tough. You may find that it’s harder to break into management consulting then it is to actually be a management consultant. This probably isn’t far off the truth.
To help you navigate the recruit and land a gig at your top firm, Whurds.com has reached out to a former consultant at a top firm. The following article addresses that consultant’s advice for students going through the Toronto consulting recruit. And no, there’s no slide deck to go along with this article.
What is Management Consulting
Consultants give advice to clients to help them solve problems. Management consultants are a specific type of consultant that work with—you guessed it—a company’s management.
Some of the big management consulting firms in Toronto include McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Company, Oliver Wyman, Accenture and Deloitte.
McKinsey, BCG, and Bain are typically considered the heavy-weights in the management consulting industry. Together, they’re referred to as “MBB” or the “Big 3”. The MBB firms tend to work with Canada’s largest and best-known companies, including many of the companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The MBB firms have a global reach, so often their consultants based in Toronto are flown around the world for projects.
How to Recruit at Management Consulting Firms in Toronto
1. Grades Matter
If you’re currently in university or a recent grad, consulting firms will want to see your grades. How well you did in university matters. Consulting firms, after all, are hiring you for your smarts.
Grades are typically the first and foremost focus of consulting firms. High grades show that you’re a smart candidate. High grades can also compensate for weaknesses in other areas of your application. For example, there are many anecdotal stories of consulting firms overlooking spelling mistakes or inexperience in an applicant’s resume because they had high grades.
In most cases, grades are the biggest differentiating factor between applicants. This is because most competitive applicants to consulting firms have similar work and education backgrounds. There is, after all, only so much you can do in a couple years of undergraduate study.
Unless you have a unique experience on your resume or previous work experience that is truly outstanding, then you should focus on getting high grades and using those grades to differentiate you from your competition.
If your grades are high enough to meet a consulting firm’s “cut-off” grade requirement, then the consulting firm will start to evaluate other factors. Grades alone aren’t the enough to land you a consulting job. Keep in mind that the “cut-off” requirement may vary firm-to-firm. The best-known firms tend to have higher “cut-offs” and are more selective in who they hire given how many applications they receive.
2. Attend Networking Sessions
You have to dance the dance to get a job. In consulting, this means attending networking sessions. Put on your best suit/skirt and get ready to smile for hours on end.
Consulting firms regularly hold networking sessions. Some firms may attend your university, others may require that you attend their office. Some sessions are held virtually. Regardless of the networking format, you want to focus on developing meaningful relationships. A five or ten minute chat with a consultant after a recruitment presentation probably won’t be enough to make you memorable. You could, however, use that five or ten minute chat as a starting point for future conversations. Exchange contact information with the people you most enjoyed talking with, and follow up with them for subsequent conversations.
Keep in mind that you are unlikely to be the only person networking with any one consultant. Unless you develop a meaningful relationship with a contact at a consulting firm, it’s hard for them to vouch for you. Often, consultants expect you to have multiple touch points with them (e.g. coffee meetings, phone calls, video calls) before you name drop them in an application and before they vouch for you.
When you network with a consultant, make sure you ask questions you genuinely want answered. Also try to keep the questions open-ended so that the consultant can give you a detailed answer. Avoid yes/no questions. Consider, for example, the type of response you might get to questions like “What are some things you love about McKinsey?”, “I heard Deloitte has a strong technology practice in Canada, can you tell me more about it?” and “What recruiting advice would you give to a third-year university student?”.
3. Make a Powerful Resume
You will also need to prepare a cover letter. Here are some tips on writing a cover letter for Toronto consulting firms.
4. Practice Before Your Interview
Interviews take practice. If a Toronto consulting firm offers you an interview, then you need to start practicing.
Hold mock interviews with current and former consultants. These mock interviews will help you get ready for your real interview.
If there is a substantive element to the firm’s interview process (like a case study), then make sure you’re familiar with how this works. As much as possible, you shouldn’t be surprised by anything in the interview.
What If You Don’t Get Hired?
Unfortunately, it’s more common than not to be rejected by one of the Toronto management consulting firms. Don’t let rejection get you down. There are a lot of other opportunities available to you.
If you were applying to a summer internship program, then take comfort in knowing that the Toronto consulting firms tend to have a hiring process for full-time positions about a year after the summer internship hiring process. This gives you a second chance to apply to consulting firms.
Before you consider re-applying to the Toronto consulting recruit, try to figure out why your first try wasn’t successful. Ask the firms that rejected you to provide you with feedback and improvement opportunities. This advice can be invaluable and will help you prepare for your next attempt at recruitment.
Take time to improve your network. Hopefully, during the course of your first try at the Toronto consulting recruit, you made a number of connections. Stay in touch with these people:
- If you were hired elsewhere, send your connections at your favourite firms an update and ask them if they have any tips for your new job.
- In the period leading up to your next application to a Toronto consulting firm, reach out to your connections and ask them for recruiting tips.
- If a consulting firm incorporates a element into its interview process (like a case study), ask your connections if they have time to do a mock case study with you.
If you keep these considerations in mind, then your second attempt at the Toronto consulting recruit is more likely to land you your dream consulting job.
Getting hired as a consultant is tough. If you succeed, congratulations! If not, don’t fret. Consulting is not an “end all, be all” job. There are many other opportunities and careers for you to pursue.
With the right preparation, you can greatly increase your chances of landing an interview and eventually an offer at a Toronto consulting firm. Best of luck with the Toronto consulting recruit, and please comment below or send us a note to update us on your success!