Recruiters have to review hundreds of job applications in one setting. They trim down the number of applicants by first eliminating those who have committed obvious mistakes in their documents, tests and interviews. Then they select those who did well in the recruiting process. In most cases, these are the people who understand the tough competition and who have exhausted all means to attain their dream job.
One of the reasons why applicants fall short along the way is skipping research about the target firm. The facts you get from reading on the Internet, reliable people and other sources can lead you to the right path. By being updated, you become aware of job opportunities, of the firm’s working environment and of events attended by key people in the industry. Intensive understanding can guide you in writing effective resumes, in acing interviews and in making smart statements during networking events. As an old adage says, knowledge is power. You must believe that!
Another aspect where you can go amiss is your inability or disinterest to network. In management consulting, this is quite an important strategy since many are called to interview because of the recommendations you get. It may seem unfair for those who lack connections, but for recruiters, it’s quite an effective way of hiring people. Assessing applicants from scratch is costly, not to mention time-consuming. Networking, however, should be done not after sending out resumes. Establishing a circle of professionals requires time, effort and most of all, genuineness. It should start as soon as the calling for management consulting is already there.
Submitting a poorly written job application doesn’t produce any positive result, either. The cover letter and resume are documents that serve as your launching pad to your career. They must be tailored to stand out head and shoulders above the rest. To do this, include relevant information on your education and experience. Also, list quantitative achievements to have more impact on the recruiters. Stating “Utilized various campus recruitment strategies to double the population of the consulting club” has a more striking effect than “Recruited new members for the consulting club.” Remember that too much unnecessary information is dragging. The documents should be concise, comprehensive and comprehensible.
Another tool used in recruitment is pre-employment tests. Tests must not be taken for granted because the results reliably tell recruiters something about you and your capability to do the job. A high score on numerical reasoning means you can interpret information on graphs, charts and tables well. A terrible score on verbal reasoning implies you need improvement in preparing and understanding long textual reports. An excellent mark on abstract reasoning suggests you have superior innate intelligence. If you are scheduled for testing, call the firm’s Human Resources Department promptly, ask about the tests and be mentally equipped to answer them.
Another mistake you might commit is coming to an interview unprepared. In management consulting, two types of interview are employed – fit and case. The former may be easier, may not need practice. The latter, however, demands more effort for preparation. To crack the presented case, it’s a prerequisite to be familiar with a multitude of business cases and consulting frameworks. You will feel tensed and panicky once you are in front of the interviewer and you haven’t practiced resolving cases beforehand. If you prepare for it painstakingly, you can demonstrate confidence, mastery and composure under stress. And because you feel calm, logical thinking will be effortless.
During fit or case interviews, some applicants are not observant of their nonverbal behavior. As a result, recruiters frown at their fidgeting, lack of eye contact or arrogant tone of voice. Bear in mind that messages are conveyed even beyond words. If you slouch, you get across sluggishness. If you smile, you transmit optimism and sociability. If you come to the interview in casual clothes, the getup might be interpreted as a sign of disrespect to the firm’s working environment. Hence, attentiveness on how you express your ideas, dress yourself and move your body can be helpful.