When to Apply to Consulting Firms

Question:

First of all, thank you for your work. It is great guidance to me.

I reviewed all the FAQ's and articles, but couldn't find the answer to when somebody should apply.

Do consulting firms have a certain seasonality in their recruiting process or can I send my resume in June, October or February, as long as I fit the prospect, I will get feedback (to make it short)?

It would depend as well on the location I imagine.

I am considering Europe, but I assume European and U.S. firms have about the same timings.

A majority of students graduate in May/June and consider the end of summer vacations as the beginning of the year.

Thank you very much!

My Reply:

If you are recruiting from on-campus recruiting, there is definitely a season -- usually in fall or winter... sometimes spring for internship positions.

If you should be applying via on-campus recruiting (undergrad, mba, phd, etc..) and you apply earlier, they usually just tell you they will make decisions on who to interview in X months as part of their season.  Sometimes they will say, "We have decided to interview you in three months," (again, part of their regular schedule).

If you are applying from a non-target school that does not have on-campus recruiting, just apply whenever. It is better to apply earlier in the academic year, otherwise most slots are filled, and there are fewer openings late in the season.  Also, when applying from a non-target firm, networking helps a lot.

If you are applying as an experienced hire, that tends to be a rolling process.  So apply whenever - again, networking helps here as well.

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4 comments… add one
  • Anuskha Ramkissoon Mar 9, 2015, 9:18 pm

    If you are applying from a non-target school, should you apply during your last year of the MBA program, or hold off until graduation?

    • Victor Cheng Mar 9, 2015, 10:59 pm

      Anuskha,

      You definitely want to apply BEFORE you graduate during your final year. You can also consider applying during your first year for internship roles, though I don’t know if the firms open up intern hires to non target schools.

      Victor

  • Benjamin Schwartz Feb 16, 2017, 4:40 pm

    How far in advance do firms generally hire? I am currently in a Ph.D program and am not sure when I will graduate, but expect it will be Spring-Fall 2018. I understand that the top firms hire about a year in advance, so it may make sense for me to apply in the coming around. Is this generally true or does this only apply to MBB?

    • Victor Cheng Feb 27, 2017, 10:49 am

      Benjamin,

      The biggest firms generally recruit about 9 – 12 months in advance. The smallest firms usually 1-3 months. I would apply in Fall 2017 for starting work in Spring or Fall 2018. this would coincide with the natural on campus recruiting cycles for PhD programs. Also after you get an offer, if you end up needing a few extra months to finish you PhD it is rarely a problem with the big firms.

      -Victor

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