The request I hear most often from candidates, especially those who haven’t worked at a consulting firm before, is how to land a job in management consulting. Consulting positions at a large successful firm such as Accenture can provide great experience for just about anyone. The illusive question is how does one land a job without previous consulting firm experience? Here are a few suggestions that may assist your pilgrimage into the world of consulting. Keep in mind that every group is different and every role comes with different requirements, but here is my general advice for Accenture consulting roles.
1. If you haven’t done so already, try to gain some consulting-like experience in your current position. Consultants work at a client site eighty to hundred percent of the time. Although job descriptions are written for their positions, many times specific assignments are very ambiguous. Consultants frequently start a new project and have to prove their worth with very little direction. Consulting roles are goal-based, not task-based. Consultants have to prove the value of their project to an organization. If a task falls outside of their daily responsibilities, then it just has to get done – not passed along to someone else or ignored.
There are a few ways you can gain this type of experience. At work, pitch a project to a department or group that’s different than your own. Lead this project from start to finish. Another option is to lead a large project outside of normal working hours. Internships and large charity organizations are great for this as well. To prove consulting experience, it’s vital to work outside of your daily tasks and responsibilities.
2. Be specific in your networking. My friend Katie, who is a consulting manager, landed her job through a friend who was also in consulting. Believe it or not, her brother was a JAVA Developer for our outsourcing technology services, not in consulting. Ultimately he didn’t help her land the job. Her friend Scott was in consulting and knew the senior executive that could assist her. It’s not that her brother didn’t want to help, he definitely did. Katie needed to find the correct hiring manager to land her consulting job. Don’t simply target Accenture; target the group within Accenture you are most interested in.
3. Improve your writing and communication skills.
Accenture sees many resumes for consulting roles. As a recruiter, I am not as concerned with your formatting or even what type of font you used but how you can communicate skills. Is your resume easy to take in? Is it a traditional chronological resume? That’s right, chronological resumes with job history listed with each skill set for each role is preferred. See this example from Women for Hire
Regardless of your layout, make your resume clear and concise. It’s true you may have done many, many things at your current position but focus on your strongest skills and experience. Candidates also like to list many personal attributes (hard worker, self disciplined, excellent team player, etc). A few are okay but I want to see those particular attributes shine during an interview, not on a resume. Don’t make it more than a few sentences. Also, long wordy paragraphs with run on sentences are hard to follow. Your resume should be filled with action statements.
Instead of “I have great communications skills” you could say “I research, write and post blogs to Accenture Recruiter’s Blog, an external facing site for potential Accenture candidates.”
Resumes with excellent writing and grammar always stand out. Yet another way to make your resume sound more professional is to stop writing like you speak. That’s a mistake many people make, including me.
For example: “I worked with people I never meet before”…you can leave that part out. It’s assumed that when you start a new job that there will be some people you haven’t worked with before. Any further clarification can be addressed in an interview.
Recheck your resume over and over again for grammar errors, awkward sentences and misspellings. Have a trusted friend or family member read and really critique it. Looking for easy ways for to brush up on your writing skills? Read classic novels and periodicals such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times or The Economist and enlarge your vocabulary. Writing can seem tedious but it’s worth the effort in the long run.