How To Make the Move from a Second Tier Consulting Firm to Bain, BCG or McKinsey

If you’re a consultant at a second tier firm who would love to join a top tier firm, then this is the article you need to read!

It’s totally possible to move from working at a second tier consulting firm to McKinsey, BCG or Bain. But there are some challenges and advantages you should be aware of first.

The good news

If you’re working at a second tier consultancy right now and looking to make the jump to McKinsey, BCG or Bain, then the good news is that the Experienced Hires recruiting channel is increasingly important for all top firms.

This is because sourcing Experienced Hires from MBA programs is not enough to fill the top consulting firm’s recruiting pipeline. In many cases, the top-3 firms are already recruiting to their limit from MBA programs and need to look elsewhere for experienced talent.

Consulting as an industry is growing in general so there is a high demand for consultants. While initially the Experienced Hire recruitment channel was geared towards people working in industry rather than consulting, there’s an increasing desire to hire consultants for the reasons outlined below.

The challenges

Top-3 firms look for the best talent from different industries, including doctors, military personnel and finance professionals. They seek to interview candidates, within these industries, who work from the most selective companies in the most selective roles.

As a consultant at a second-tier firm, you immediately fall short on that criterion. If you are that great, why did you not join a top-3 firm in the first place?

Nevertheless, top firms do recognise that there is top talent within other consultancies and will consider the top performers from these companies.

So if you have had faster progression than the norm and been top rated among your peers, then you’ll naturally land yourself into the top talent bucket where the top tier firms are looking.

However, despite the good news, as a current consultant, it’s more difficult for you to stand out among other experienced hires who may have more varied and interesting backgrounds.

For example, your personal stories of impact and leadership are likely to be in the context of consulting. This won’t come across as remarkable to your consultant interviewer who may have heard similar but more novel personal stories from doctors, military officers or other professionals. Experienced Hires from more varied backgrounds are likely to have more concrete examples of impact. So you will need to look for good achievement stories in your activities outside of work or your studies.

Overall, your challenges here are to stand out in terms of performance within your firm and with achievements outside of work.

The opportunity

Nevertheless, as a trained consultant, you’re considered a very low risk hire compared to someone who’s unfamiliar with consulting. This means you’ll be more productive from day one and are an attractive prospect to growing consultancies as a result.

Therefore, your opportunity is the largest when the top-3 firms are heavily recruiting because of urgent staffing needs.

If you are lucky enough to be invited to interview, you will need to prepare thoroughly. In our experience helping over 100 experienced professionals receive job offers from the top-3 firms, we have seen many current consultants fail at interviews because of lack of preparation. The fact that they had proven themselves in a consulting environment made them believe that they did not need to prepare as much as other candidates. That proved to be wrong.

To give yourself the best chance of standing out and landing a coveted invite to interview, make sure to download our FREE resume course for Experienced Professionals here.

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