More on Networking to Get a Consulting Interview

Question:

Thanks for the wonderful materials on your site. They are undoubtedly the most useful case interview preparation resource I have come across. I will be purchasing your LOMS program shortly too.

I wanted your guidance regarding networking. I am a final year undergrad student and have a strategy consultancy called the [Top 15 Firm] coming for recruitments for its XYZ office.

This is the first time that this firm is recruiting from my college, so I do not have the option of contacting any alumni.

Also, its recruitment procedure is such that it first screens applicants on the basis of their resume, then conducts first round telephonic interviews followed by final interviews at its office in XYZ, which effectively translates into the fact that there aren't going to be any company events at my campus.

Through the Placement Cell of my college, the resumes have already been forwarded to the firm and their shortlist is due.

Since I by no means have a stellar resume, my main contention here is to get my resume considered and shortlisted, so that I become eligible for an interview.

I am positive that my preparation with the help of your resources would enable me to tackle the interviews well thereafter.

Please advise me how to go about networking.

I thought of emailing the consultants who I could find on the company website, but I don't really understand who to pick out of the various consultants whose profiles I can find on its website, as in who'd be involved in recruiting or consulting resume screening, etc., or even what to write to them so as to achieve my aim and create a favourable impression.

Also will networking help in my cause? Can it be taken negatively in any case?

 

My Reply:

Networking, if done properly, is never taken as a negative. You network with anyone within these firms regardless of whether they are involved in recruiting or consulting resume screening.

Your goal is not to contact people who can help you in recruiting.

Your goal is to contact people in the firm for an informational interview.... which is basically, "Can I call you or meet you for coffee to learn more about your career path, whether you like working at XYZ firm, how you decided to pick this firm, what's it's really like day-to-day, whether the people are as nice as they seem," etc...

An informational interview is an interview where you interview them.

Then in your cover letter, you tell the reader how much networking you've done, who you have met, what you have discovered and why you like the firm (be specific).... and because you were so specific and you spent so much time learning about the firm, when you say you like the firm for XYZ reason, they actually believe you.

This is the first benefit of networking.... and this value is guaranteed in the sense that if you network enough and do what I indicated above, it will make your cover letter stand out.

And as someone who has reviewed thousands of cover letters and resumes (which by the way is a very, very, very, very painful process because every cover letter seems the same... some mail merge, copy/paste cover letter that shows absolutely no interest, and no research into the hiring firm), a great cover letter + a good enough resume will get you the interview every single time.

The second potential benefit is not guaranteed (at least not in a short time period).  If you network enough, at some point, someone in the process decides to help you out in some unpredictable way - they introduce you to someone else, they get you an interview, they help your resume get noticed, etc...

It is very difficult to determine in advanced who is most likely to help you or how they will help you. Very hard to predict. So you just do a lot of it knowing that at some point in the process, you will get some help from someone in some useful way.

For other suggestions on networking, consider my guide on How to Network to Get a Consulting Interview, for a specific process you can start using right away towards securing an interview:

How to Network to Get a Consulting Interview

 

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1 comment… add one
  • Chelsea Aug 8, 2013, 3:20 pm

    Victor,

    I was wondering if it is fine to ask a recruiter to refer you to a consultant in order to learn more about the firm. Also, could you recommend some good questions that I could ask a recruiter? I heard that it is good to make the recruiter know you, but am not sure how to make that connection. Thank you!

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