“If you don’t have a 700+ GMAT, don’t even bother applying for consulting jobs.” 

“If you aren’t in the top 1/5/10%, don’t even bother applying for consulting jobs.”

Academic Myth:  BUSTED

Having worked with thousands of students, the myth that “only the academically elite should apply to consulting jobs” is one of the most common.

Yes, academic performance is one advantage.  In absence of work experience, GMAT and GPA scores can serve as proxies for a candidate’s potential.  But the notion that academic performance is the critical success factor to landing a consulting job is just plain wrong — and it’s damaging because it often prevents otherwise qualified students from even applying.

Consulting has undergone so much transformation, so much expansion of what “top talent” actually means (check out our article, “Want to be a Consultant?  Ignore Technology at Your Peril“).  Thus, how firms recruit today has also significantly transformed, and what firms look for in a candidate has also significantly expanded.

Bottom line:  when a consulting firm finds a candidate who’s a great fit from the experience, knowledge, and culture perspectives, academic performance becomes a footnote.  (In time, academic experience drops down even further).

More Than a One-Trick Pony

As a student pursuing a consulting career, it takes so much more than academic performance to land a consulting job.  For example, you will need to demonstrate:

  • Academic background (degree of study and performance in the program).
  • Knowledge of consulting as an industry and a career.
  • Experience and/or knowledge relevant to your target firm(s), target service line(s) (click here for more information on the key consulting service lines).
  • Experience and/or knowledge relevant to your target job.
  • Strong consulting cover letters and resumes.
  • Strong performance on all interview phases.
  • Culture fit.

(Note:  don’t let this list intimate you, it is absolutely achievable; our Consulting Career Playbook can guide you through all of the above).

Bottom line:  if you’re interested in consulting, do not let any myth, individual, or firm discourage you from applying (check out our article, “Why NOT You?“).  Block out the noise.  Stay focused on your own game.


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