Can you get a job in Consulting during the COVID-19 Pandemic?
The COVID-19 (a.k.a Coronavirus) pandemic has caused an unprecedented disruption of the global economy. As the lockdowns continue, most businesses from SMEs to large multinationals are losing billions of dollars in revenue every day. Many will go under. Already over 24 million jobs have been lost in the US.
The consulting industry is not immune to the crisis. Businesses are tightening their budgets, prioritising near-term cashflow and cancelling expensive projects, especially those focused on revenue and growth. Consulting firms are taking a hit. According to research done by Consultancy.org, the global consulting industry could lose up to $30 billion in revenue in 2020.
The hardest hit sector is the Services industry, which includes leisure and aviation, is forecast to shrink by 29%, followed by, somewhat surprisingly, Healthcare due to re-allocation of budgets and the Energy sector, hit hard by the (yet another) unprecedented drop in oil prices, which reached negative prices as April's future contracts expired.
What does it mean for my interviews?
Many of our clients have had their interviews postponed, a few even had their offers postponed to a later start date. However, recruiting still continues. If you have been invited to an interview, it is likely to take place, albeit potentially at a later date.
However, the bar is likely higher than just a few months ago. Less positions will be available and more, highly skilled and experienced candidates will be looking to move into consulting to weather the storm. Make sure you read our detailed preparation plan, and get some coaching support to help you stand out from the growing crowd.
Get ready to interview over video. Virtual interviewing is a skill, like any other. You should learn the best practices, practise them, get feedback and improve. Here are some tips from Harvard Business Review. For consulting interviews in particular, it is important to show your framework to the interviewer before talking through it to get them on board, constantly work to engage them (e.g., by talking through your calculations and making assumptions explicit), and confirm your approach before jumping into the calculation – remember they can’t see your page and will have a harder time helping, if you go down a wrong path.
Here at ConsultingCasePro, we are also offering free “emergency support” sessions to candidates with scheduled interviews, who have been affected by the crisis and couldn’t get as much practice as they would like to. Drop us a note, if you are interested.
What if I don’t have an interview yet?
Getting a new interview has become harder, but not impossible. Firms need to continue recruiting to fill up the junior ranks, which dwindle due to promotions and natural attrition, and position themselves for success, when the crisis subsides. On the other hand, more consultants will decide to stay put rather than take that lucrative industry offer or jump to a fast growing startup, just because there will be much less such opportunities in 2020 and perhaps even beyond.
If you got a rejection, don’t give up, this too shall pass. If you are keen on becoming a top tier consultant, improve your profile to become more attractive to the firms, as they ramp up recruiting in 2021. A few ways of doing this:
Network with consultants: invest time in creating relationships within the industry, with consultants who could refer you in the future. Don’t ask for referral on day 1 – this is a sure way to sour the relationship before it has started. Think how you can bring value to the other person first.
Get a brand name on your CV: getting a job isn’t easy these days, but prioritise blue chip firms, even if at a more junior position. Consultancies prefer to hire candidates with known brand names on their CVs.
Create an impact: with so much pain and suffering going on at the moment, there are many opportunities to volunteer and help your local community, country or even the world. Create significant value and your CV is more likely to get noticed.
Get a top-tier MBA: an MBA is a significant financial and time commitment, so weigh your options carefully. However, if you were considering one anyway, now might be a good time. You’ll learn a lot, build a great network and position yourself well for a post-COVID-19 world.
A bit of good news
The good news are that consulting firms tend to be highly adaptive by nature, have demonstrated their resilience and flexibility in previous crises, and industry experts expect a fast recovery after the crisis.
Once we are back to “normal”, large businesses are likely to require a lot of support in cost cutting, supply chain redesign and restructuring. Private equity firms will be “hunting” for bargains among the thousands of distressed businesses, and public sector organisations, many of which were “caught with their pants down”, will need help in preparing for the next wave of COVID-19 or the next pandemic.
Top tier consulting firms will be there, waiting eagerly.