Friday, September 26, 2008

Advice for Consulting Recruiting...and Consulting Firms That You May Not Know About - But Should

Today’s post comes from our guest blogger, Lauren Baker, Assistant Director of Employer Relations at CAPS. Lauren has over 10 years of experience in business, four of those spent as a consultant to nonprofit agencies in Pittsburgh, PA. For more on Lauren, check out her biography. For her advice regarding fall recruiting in the consulting industry, read on:

Last week, my colleague Michael (and CAPS financial markets guru) mentioned that the current economy is facing a very serious downturn, and there is a lot of concern on Wall Street regarding when things will turn around. Rejoice, future consultants! The immediate outlook for consulting is not as bleak! Well, not yet anyway. . . .

It is a scary time, no doubt, for a graduating fourth year. You most likely are bombarded with things like “bailout” and “bankruptcy” and “worst job market since 9/11”. Current headlines are enough to make the most rock-solid student run for the Canadian border. Step away from the suitcase and drop the passport. I’m here to help.

Generally speaking, most of the consulting firms are not adjusting their hiring targets in response to the market condition. For example, only one of CAPS consulting recruiting partners is not returning this fall to recruit because of a hiring freeze at that company (although this company may come in the Spring). In addition, we have added four new companies to our roster. That’s good news!!

Don’t misunderstand – this will be a challenging season. Even if consulting firms are not cutting back on their hiring targets, the competition for the available openings will be a lot heavier. Those students who are interested in financial services and consulting will lean more towards the consulting, given the current economic situation. Moral of the story: you better bring your “A” game.

I like Michael’s quote from the last blog so much, I decided to steal: "IF YOU WANT TO SUCCEED YOU SHOULD STRIKE OUT ON NEW PATHS, RATHER THAN TRAVEL THE WORN PATHS OF ACCEPTED SUCCESS.” -John D. Rockefeller

Strike out new paths - what a concept. Yes, it’s a tough market. AND yes, you can find opportunities in consulting outside of the on-campus recruiting process. Will this require more work on your behalf? YES. Will you reap great rewards like a network of valuable contacts, career opportunities, and a new car?? NO, well not the car anyway. But the other things will come to fruition if you’re ready and willing to work for them. Here’s my advice to you:

1. Do not rely solely on on-campus recruiting. Yes, it’s a nifty thing - having all the positions organized for you online so with the touch of a button you can apply for all and wait for the good news that you were selected to interview with at least one. Even in a strong market, it is not wise to put all your eggs in one strategy (or basket). There are others strategies to employ, such as. . .

2. Network, network, network. You’ve probably heard enough from us old folks in CAPS about networking. But try to understand – we would not lead you astray. Our jobs depend on it. Networking is (and will continue to be throughout your professional life) one of the MOST important things you can do to find opportunities. We’ve made it easy for you to get started: come to Career Networking Nights (October 7th and October 14th), the Career Fair on October 3rd, and the Information Sessions starting on October 1st.

3. Be prepared. I will steal from Michael again: “FAILING TO PREPARE IS PREPARING TO FAIL”. Do your research on any and all consulting firms you are interested in, and do some on ones you’re not. Be ready for an interview. Nothing will sink an opportunity faster than going in to an interview not knowing about the company!

4. Be prepared if you do not get an offer this fall – realistically, fall recruiting is going to be slower this year than in years past, and there are going to be many smart, talented and driven University of Chicago students who might not get an offer before the holidays. Just remember, that’s ok!… late winter and early spring will still bring opportunities, especially if the economy begins to turn around, and CAPS staff are available throughout the academic year to help you conduct your job search, and to seek out organizations that you may not have considered before.

5. Cast a wide net. Even if you have your heart set on working for that huge consulting firm that rhymes with LaLynsey, open your mind that you could be just as happy (and successful, might I add) at a smaller boutique firm. Yes, the LaLynsey firm is glamorous and super-impressive, but they can only hire so many people every year. . . and you just may not get that gig.

That last point is a great segue to my final thought for now. Here is a short list of consulting firms that you may not have heard of, but should look into (click on the name to go to the website):

Alvarez & Marsal
Archstone Consulting
CSC Consulting
Detica LTD
First Attorney Consultants
Grenzebach Glier & Associates, Inc.
Hagerty Consulting
Heidrick & Struggles International
HVS International
Iris Krieg & Associates, Inc.
Kaleidoscope Group (Diversity Consulting)
Practica Group, LLC
Public Consulting Group
RCF Economic & Financial Consulting
RW Ventures
Sagent Management Consulting
Watson Wyatt Worldwide

This is just a start, and I will continue to grow this list as I hear of other opportunities. Make an appointment with me today to talk STRATEGY about how to reach the companies not coming on campus.

To schedule an appointment with Lauren, or any of member of the CAPS Staff, call (773) 702 - 7040.

Questions, concerns or discussion topics about fall recruiting? Post them here.

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