Consulting

1. What is Consulting?
2. How are Consulting firms segmented?
3. What positions are available in Consulting?
4. How do you prepare for consulting interviews?
5. What Consulting resources are available?

1. What is Consulting?

Consultants are hired advisors with skill in assessing and solving a wide variety of business problems. Consulting firms are hired by companies who need their expertise, fresh outside perspective, and/or extra set of hands. On a project by project basis, consultants help clients solve a specific business problem, or research and develop strategies for improving the client company.

Types of problems in consulting might include developing an improved service marketing plan, pulling together a strategy for a new product launch, planning for technology investments inside the client firm, valuing external investments from a financial perspective or evaluating the impacts of a government policy. Consulting firms sell services in virtually any industry, such as health care, consumer packaged goods, heavy manufacturing, high tech or energy. With varied/complex company needs, consulting firms are categorized into diverse segments.

In general, consulting firms are looking for candidates who possess strong analytical and quantitative skills, communication skills, research skills, interpersonal skills, a high GPA (3.5+), leadership and team work. Applicants also must perform strongly in case interviews.

2. How are Consulting Firms Segmented?

Boutique Strategy: Focus on specialized functional areas or industries.  Small in size with narrow group of clients.

  • Sample Firms:  Cornerstone Research (litigation support), Gartner (high-tech research), PRTM Management Consultants (high-tech operations), Putnam Associates (pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and medical devices)

Human Resources: Focus on maximizing employee performance through effective organizational development or change management initiatives.

  • Sample Firms:  Accenture (Change Management Group), Conduent HR Services, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Hay Group, Aon Hewitt, Mercer, Willis Towers Watson.
  • Example Projects: Recommend change to organizational structure, such as corporate reorganization, business unit development, or downsizing to streamline business operations, in order to facilitate more effective timely decisions; Develop employee evaluation criteria, process, and associated compensation system; Create and implement internal leadership and professional development training.

Management: Focus on a wide range of strategic and core operational issues.

  • Sample Firms:  Accenture, A.T. Kearney, Bain & Company, Booz Allen Hamilton, The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Marakon Associates, McKinsey & Company, Monitor Deloitte
  • Example Projects: Corporate Strategy – Assistance with issues related to mergers and acquisitions, market analysis, and competitive positioning; Operations – Assistance with the way a client’s business runs day to day including marketing, sales and distribution, manufacturing, and research and development; Financial Planning – Assistance with “macro” issues about a client’s business such as examining a client’s financial statements in order to forecast and budget, analyze financial performance, and create a financial strategy.

Technology and Systems: Focus on technical services related to computer system and application design, integration, and support.

  • Sample Firms:  Accenture, Capgemini, DXC Technology, IBM Global Business Services, Oracle, SAP, Synopsys, Unisys
  • Example Projects: Assess how computer systems could improve the efficiency of company operations by automating manual processes; Analyze efficiency of company’s current technology and recommend refresh and purchase agreement plans; Evaluate costs and benefits of establishing new Internet-based B2B exchange.

3. What positions are available in Consulting?

Analyst – The analysts or associates are the most junior members of the consulting team and are responsible for performing most of the research and analysis for the project. Analysts work closely with the consultants on the team to plan the most effective way to develop recommendations for clients and to complete the analysis in support of the project. Specific duties include performing research, analyzing data, brainstorming with other team members, gathering information, and preparing and making presentations to the client.

Consultant – The title “consultant” typically refers to the members of the team who have graduated from business school and received an MBA (or who have worked as an analyst for 2 to 4 years). Consultants are responsible for managing the research and analysis performed on behalf of the client as well as the analysts who work on their team.

4. How do you prepare for consulting interviews?

Case interviews are used by consulting firms to evaluate your analytical thinking skills and your poise under pressure. It takes more time and preparation than general and behavioral interviews. Practice is vital! Learn more about preparing for case interviews.

5. What Consulting resources are available?

About.com Consulting Careers – Information about the consulting application process, typical positions, job requirements, and career and job information.
Careers-in-Business, Consulting –Information about top consulting firms, and different practice such as strategy, healthcare, litigation, and finance consulting.
Consulting Crossing – A site dedicated solely to aggregating jobs in the consulting industry from numerous sources.
Consulting Magazine
ALM Intelligence – Provides research information, publications and resources for management consultants and for those exploring the industry.
Princeton Review Career Profile – A brief “day in the life” description with additional facts and figures information.
Top Consultant – A database with job opportunities in the Consulting industry.
Vault Career Insider Guides – (*must use your WFU email to access)
Vault Career Insider – Career Guide to Consulting
Vault Career Insider – Guide to the Top 50 Management and Strategy Consulting Firms
Vault Career Insider – Guide to the Top 25 Technology Consulting Firms
Wake Forest Career Development – Case Interview Preparation
Wetfeet Careers & Industries – Overview of the consulting industry and careers within the field.

Consulting Professional Associations

Association of Management Consulting Firms
International Council of Management Consulting Institutes
Institute of Management Consultants
Society of Professional Consultants

For a timeline of the job and internship search process and consulting industry recruiting, click here.