End of March I sent survey to hundreds of candidates who are preparing for case interviews about how the new pandemic affected their preparation.
Here’s what one of them said:
“I feel like there is no chance that I can get a job right now.”
I wish he was the only one…
Here are some other things I’ve heard:
- “I got accepted to one consulting firm, and now am super concerned that HR will suddenly decide that they cannot have new interns right now, not in these times.”
- “Are firms still recruiting or they just go over the process as a formality?”
- “I went from ‘Oh yeah, I will prepare with Crafting Cases for my next interviews’ to ‘F*ck, let’s hope there will be any recruiting taking place this year’.”
Let’s stop for a minute and analyze the situation:
This pandemic/lockdown situation is a new thing and no one knows how to deal with it.
Not even consulting firms.
Some are delaying their recruiting, others freezing it and some others simply moving it online. The lack of uniformity between what different offices/firms are doing tells me that even to them it’s not clear what to do. They’re in uncharted territory.
You too are probably anxious as hell.
Depending on where you are, you’re closed at home, away from friends, feeling guilty that you’re not as productive in your preparation as you were before, and secretly fearing that a multi-year economic recession may destroy your chances of getting into consulting and harm your career forever.
And yes, this simply SUCKS.
If you’re thinking “Why now?”, “Why with me?” and “What the hell should I do now?”, you’re not alone.
Everyone’s harmed by a global pandemic followed by a global recession, but people making a career shift suffer more than average (and I truly hope your family is doing okay, by the way).
This is why I decided to write this guide.
Initially I thought about writing about remote interviews. (Which I did here
But when I sent out the survey, I found out candidates were concerned about 1000 other things, including:
- “Will consulting firms recruit less because of this crisis? Will it become more competitive? Are my chances of being hired lower now?”
- “If chances are indeed lower, how do I still get in? Should I try to interview as soon as possible or wait until the storm is gone? Will consulting firms even honor their offers if I manage to get one?”
- “Should I even go into consulting given the crisis to come? Or should I completely change my career strategy?”
- “How can I structure my preparation better now? Even though I have more time now, it’s hard to find the motivation to prepare when I’m locked up in a tiny apartment, away from friends and family, my attention sucked by the news and not even sure I’ll be interviewed…”
- And yes, “How to excel in video conference interviews?”
But that’s now the only thing that I noticed…
I noticed that while some candidates are seeing the glass half empty, others are seeing it half full.
I noticed people are getting OFFERS from top consulting firms even today.
And I want to address all your concerns with getting a consulting job and showing you the light at the end of the tunnel
I want to help you achieve your goal of working in consulting despite the current situation.
I want to show you that yes, it is a bit harder to get in right now, but that no, it’s not impossible. Some people WILL get the offer, and those are the ones who can navigate this situation better.
And I want to show you why following the consulting path may be the best thing you can do professionally right now, because:
1) Other industries are affected by the crisis too, so it’s not like it’s gonna be easy to find a good job elsewhere either.
2) Clients are not gonna run out of complex problems in need of consultants due to this situation — in fact, they’re gonna have MORE of these problems.
Consulting isn’t going anywhere in the post-corona world, and I believe amazing projects will happen in the next few years because of this situation.
And amazing projects create amazing careers.
So, let’s jump right in.
This guide is divided in 5 different “chapters”, each one addressing one type of concern you may have and showing you options to not only go through this period of uncertainty, but also showing you how to thrive.
Chapter 1: A career strategy for times of trouble will take you through my perspective on what should change and what should stay the same in your career strategy.
Most career advice is written for stable times and not for people with an interest in consulting — I’ll show you highly targeted advice for that you need right now.
Chapter 2: How consulting firms will “flatten the recruiting curve” will bust many myths that I see people having right now, including “no one will hire right now”.
I’ll show you why top consulting firms would be at existential risk if they stopped hiring for a long period of time (i.e. more than a couple months) and why they will “flatten the recruiting curve” because of this.
Chapter 3: The “Hiring Pyramid” explained will walk you through exactly how consulting firms will reduce their hiring.
People at different stages of the process are at different levels of risk, and some won’t even be affected at all due to this pandemic. Understanding the mechanics of how they think about hiring will help you position yourself for having higher chances of getting that dream offer.
Chapter 4: How to prepare effectively when you’re locked-down will show you mindsets and tactics to prepare even if you’re mildly depressed locked down in a small apartment (the reality of many today).
Trying to force-fit your old preparation habits into this new reality is a sure recipe for frustration. I’ll show you what to do instead.
Chapter 5: Positioning yourself as a great candidate will show you 4 levers unique to this situation that you can use to thrive as a candidate and that no one else is using.
Interviewers will have subtle changes in how they see and evaluate candidates, and if you’re one of the few who are aware of these changes, you’re setting yourself up for success.
A career strategy for times of trouble
We’ve all heard about those studies that point out how starting a career a recession creates lifetime damage to your income and career growth.
Now, let me point out the elephant in the room:
By the time you’re reading this, this chart is probably outdated, and the unemployment even higher.
But the point stays the same…
The coronavirus lockdown BROKE THE SCALE of a chart on US employment benefits that’s been around for several decades.
(And the same will happen in other countries too.)
Could this be a short term blip of people in the restaurant, travel an entertainment industry being laid off right now only to be re-hired in a month or two when this lockdown is over?
But economies are living organisms with lots of second, third, and fourth order effects…
These businesses laying off people will also buy less or postpone payments to suppliers, who are likely to lay off some people too. And all these unemployed people will spend less money in the economy, causing more businesses in many other industries to lose money and possibly lay off more people.
This could trigger a downward spiral. Government interventions may or may not work.
Which means it’s best to shift your career strategy for the imminent downturn if you haven’t already…
The ideal career in a downturn
- People starting their careers in a recession tend to accept lower quality jobs.
- During a recession, professionals tend to switch jobs less.
What does a "high quality job" even mean?
Tough question, huh?
Here’s my checklist… A high quality job is a job that:
- Is stable: the position will keep existing even during a recession, and you’re not going to lose your job despite excellent performance because your function loses relevancy during an economic period.
- Builds skills: even if you don’t get a raise during the tough times, you’ll learn things and build skills from which you’ll reap the benefits for the rest of your career.
- Allows for growth: it’s a job in which you can be promoted and get raises even during recessions, as long as you do exceptional work.
- Builds your professional brand: it’s a job that gives you credentials/credibility for the long run. You’ll get out of a recession in higher demand than you were before.
- Pays well: money is worth more during a recession, and it’s at these times where good investing opportunities arise.
- Gives you optionality: if you later decide you don’t want to do that kind of work anymore and want to switch the type of work that you do, you’re not digging yourself into a hole. You’ll be able to switch into a different industry later.
- Gives you variety: this one is specially important in this situation… Who knows which industries will still be relevant in the post-pandemic world? Or which ones will take longer to recover? You want to be at a job that trains you to do more than one specific thing so you’re sure you’re still marketable afterwards.
- Is interesting and fun: this is good overall, and even more important in recessions again… Being around optimistic people when times are tough is essential to me.
This is my checklist. Yours may be different, but I bet most people who read what I write would come up with something similar.
Now, the interesting thing to me is this:
Consulting checks all these boxes.
Yes, it might be a bit harder to get in right now (though it’s certainly not impossible, I’ll talk about that in the next chapters).
But if you do get in, you’ll have one of the few jobs in the market that:
- Pays well and allows you to get promotions and raises based solely on your merit.
- Build your skills, network and professional reputation (while some other people are stuck in jobs that don’t add much to their lives and careers).
- Allows you to go into pretty much any business function into any industry you’re interested in once the world gets back to normal.
- Is relatively secure — as long as you’re performing well, you’re unlikely to get fired.
Let me elaborate on this last point, as I you might be confused..
"How is consulting a 'safe' job??? Don't they have that 'up or out' thing?"
One of the first things I learned of consulting was that many firms had an “up-or-out” policy.
This means that from time to time, you’re expected to be promoted.
If you’re not, you’re gently asked to leave.
And that was freaking scary to me… “What if I’m not good enough? It must suck to get fired…”
Once I was in, I saw that reality was much much better.
“Up or out” basically meant that:
(1) I was going to have regular reviews about my performance,
(2) McKinsey was going to be crystal clear to me on where I was compared to their expectations and what I should improve,
(3) I was almost guaranteed to be promoted if I performed well,
(4) if I didn’t perform well, they were gonna give me 6 months to improve and only then, if I didn’t improve, was I going to be asked to leave.
The percentage of people up until manager level who were in the “out” category was very low, probably less than 10%, certainly less than 20%.
I don’t know about you, but to me, this “up or out” thing is WAY BETTER than a job where you don’t get regular reviews, don’t get clear feedback on where to improve and could be laid off at pretty much any time.
Especially in a recession, when unexpected lay offs do happen.
Yet, top consulting firms CANNOT lay people off randomly.
Not without severely damaging the firm for the long term, at least.
If they start doing that, other consultants in the firm will look around, feel their careers are unprotected and start looking for other opportunities. They’ll lose their best consultants, then their best clients, and it all downward spirals after that.
What’s a consulting firm if not the knowledge and skills of their people, after all?
So they try to preserve every high performer’s job as much as possible.
But there’s another reason why consulting is a secure job to those getting in:
New recruits are extremely unlikely to be affected by “up or out”.
The reason why is counterintuitive: it is little known fact that most people who are asked to leave consulting firms were considering leaving anyway.
Here are the two things you need to do well in consulting:
Thing #1) Being highly competent at your job.
Thing #2) Tons and tons of motivation.
Consulting firms are really good at getting just the most competent candidates when they recruit people. If you got in, you can do the job.
They also look for people with high levels of motivation when hiring…
But motivation changes.
Most people in consulting who weaken their performance do so not because they became “unskilled”, but because they’re not as motivated as they once were. They’re feeling like it’s time to move on. They’re tired of being away from family or working long hours or something else.
But very few NEW people become unmotivated in their first couple years, so you’re very likely to perform well and be promoted.
And even if you don’t — it’s way easier to find a better job with a top consulting firm in your resume… Even in a downturn.
So consulting is not only a high-paying, high-growth, high in skill development career that pays, promotes and gives interesting work to people even in a downturn… It’s also one of the safest places to be if you’re motivated and competent at your job (in the private sector at least). No random manager can solely decide that you’re out because “they don’t like you” or “budget is tight”.
In other words…
Consulting is career insurance in times of trouble
Yes, there are all different sorts of high-quality jobs out there: PM in high tech start-ups, lots of types of banking jobs, managerial positions in high-quality Fortune 500 companies, etc.
But you’re reading this, so my guess is you’re highly interested in getting in consulting.
Given that, I think you’ll like to know that getting a job in consulting is one of the best (if not the best) career option in a downturn.
It still has the upsides it had before the economy started getting into muddy waters (high pay, interesting work, opportunities to grow fast, incredible professional branding), and few of the downsides other options have…
- Tech start-ups have funding risk if the economy collapses — will VCs have the cash to fund their negative cashflows?
- Banks are ruthless in firing junior employees whenever a recession hits — just look at 2008.
- Fortune 500 offers a safer path, but will they offer the same growth? The same exit opportunities?
I’m obviously biased, as I went the consulting path and I still think it was one of the best decisions of my life.
My bias doesn’t make me wrong though — a consulting career is one of the best paths for those who want to work with business or government, and it didn’t become worse because of the likely recession.
In my opinion, it has become comparatively better.
But I know what you’re thinking…
"Isn't it pretty much impossible to get into consulting right now?"
Many candidates have asked me this recently.
And you might be thinking for yourself: “Sure, Bruno… I wish I could join a consulting firm… But how can I get an offer right now? It’s pretty much impossible!”
I won’t lie to you (I promised to speak the truth): it WILL be harder to get consulting offers right now.
This too shall pass, though.
And to be frank, firms are still giving interviews and people are still getting offers…
Take a look at this:
Let me be repeat this to you: consulting firms still want to hire high quality candidates.
I’ll show you in the next chapter.
How consulting firms will "flatten the recruiting curve"
If you talk to candidates today, you’ll see many of them are concerned that consulting firms will FREEZE their processes and HALT their recruiting…
I won’t sugarcoat anything: yes, it WILL be harder to get offers right now.
But the examples you just read about in the last chapter show that NO, IT IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE.
In fact, many candidates are setting themselves up to failure by holding their applications and postponing their interviews when they could be one interview away from their dream offer.
In fact, we’re getting emails every single day of people getting offers, even in this downturn…
Now, if you’re a curious person like me, you’re asking yourself:
Why would consulting firms hire new people if they expect a downturn?
Yes, it is likely that consulting firms will recruit less in the short- and mid-term.
But that doesn’t mean they will they halt their recruiting efforts, stop inviting people to interviews or do interviews “just as a formality”…
If this puzzles you, here are five high-level reasons why consulting firms will keep recruiting in 2020:
REASON #1: Clients hire consultants even in downturns, so demand might drop less than you think.
- Restructuring work: Many client companies will be on the verge of bankruptcy and will call top consulting firms for help.
- Cost-cutting: Clients will need to lean down and renegotiate contracts or rethink their operations given the new economic climate.
- Private Equity projects: Many companies will be dirt cheap, and Private Equity firms will call in the consultants for an external perspective on the deals.
- Supply Chain work: Supply chains have been disrupted in this crisis and many unknown risks were exposed. Consultants can help with that.
- Strategy: Even though this is rarely urgent, strategies that were created in the past few years may now be obsolete.
REASON #2: Firms would rather fire more people than hire less (because they can't really stop hiring for long).
Here’s an interesting fact about consulting firms: they NEED people at all levels.
From young business analyst to experienced senior partner, they’re all needed for a project to run well (unless you can convince a senior partner that his time is worth auditing a 15-tab excel model).
Here’s another interesting fact: most firms have an (explicit or implicit) up-or-out policy. Some say they don’t, but you’d find it hard to find a consultant who hasn’t been promoted in the last 5 years and is still around.
This means that (1) many people who were business analysts or associates last year will either get promoted or counseled out this year, and (2) firms will still need people in these positions.
So they will HIRE PEOPLE AT THESE LEVELS.
The term consulting firms use to describe this is “balancing the pyramid”, referring to the pyramid shape of the proportion of staff in junior, medium and senior levels.
So, even if consulting firms choose to downsize or stop growing, they’d rather do so by still hiring some young people, and promoting less of the people they have than to halt recruiting.
This means two “bad” things:
- It will be slightly harder to get promoted if you’re in already (though certainly far from impossible — most firms will still promote more than 50% of their people in each level, often way more)
- Experienced professionals will find it much harder to get in (they’re not entering from the bottom of the pyramid, so they’re competing with the promotion of a current consultant.
It also means something good for you if you’re trying to get in at the analyst or associate level: you’ll still have good chances to get in.
REASON #3: Firms will willingly reduce their utilization rate.
One of the key metrics a consulting firm uses to manage its own business is its “Utilization Rate”.
It basically means the average percentage of a consultant’s time that’s used on “billable work” (work that is charged from clients) vs. “non-billable work” (free work to clients or work for the consulting firm itself).
This variable is somewhat controllable.
A consulting firm has 70% Utilization Rate and a 30% profit margin.
They could fire some people and increase their Utilization Rate AND their profit margins without getting new clients or project work. Or they could hire new people and reduce their Utilization Rate AND profit margins.
But why would they willingly do the second, and not the first?
Well, there’s a bunch of reasons why you want consultants “idle”, or not doing billable work:
- You expect a surge in demand for projects soon and want to have staff ready to deploy.
- You need to develop new methodologies and lines of work to get new projects in the mid to long term, so you need consultants working on that.
- There aren’t a lot of projects, but there are a ton of proposals (that could turn into projects) being requested/made.
- You have cash and you don’t want to fire your best people.
It turns out that in this recession, with big firms, many (if not all) of these points are true.
This means that our hypothetical firm that had a 70% Utilization Rate and 30% profit margin might choose to drop profits to zero and have a utilization rate of 40-50%.
Or stay somewhere in between – have a 50-60% utilization rate and ~10% in profit margin.
And it may be in their best interest to do so.
Remember: consulting firms are usually private partnerships. They don’t need to have constant profits (no external shareholders, profits are after partner salaries) and they usually do think long term.
If firing their best people and not hiring anyone might mean they will lose their competitive position, their best clients, team morale and the chance to get the best projects once clients start asking for proposals again you bet they’ll willingly reduce their profits.
REASON #4: They hire for the future.
If consulting firms were like typical firms who hire people today so they join next week, you would see a sharp drop in recruiting right now.
But they don’t.
In consulting, you get an offer today so you can join the firm a few months from now… Sometimes 6 months from now.
This allows them to take the long view when recruiting.
This longer-term mentality allows them to keep working through the recruiting funnel during the downtime so they don’t have to work like crazy to hire a bazillion people when project demand surges again.
Take this common scenario as an example:
- They screen resumes and invite some candidates for an interview 2 weeks from now…
- … then some candidates get the call a week later that they’ve passed to the next round and are invited to do their final round a few weeks later…
- … then some of those get the offer and are invited to join the firm a few months after that.
In this made-up (yet realistic) scenario, the recruiting cycle from “interview invitation” to “join date” lasted 4 and a half months.
(Oh, and they could easily spread out the recruiting cycle to make this a 6-month cycle.)
So when firms are thinking about recruiting today, they’re thinking about project demand and utilization rate 4.5 to 6 months from now — right when clients are going to ask them for help in saving their bottom-line, rethinking their cost structure or helping them with strategy in a post-COVID world.
REASON #5: They can postpone your entry date
Let’s say a 6-month cycle isn’t enough to compensate for the loss of business.
Project demand is so low that, even with firms doing everything I’ve already covered, they’re still not able to take in new people…
(I’m talking about a near catastrophe here, but follow along.)
They still have one more tool in their toolkit: asking candidates to postpone their entry date.
This is rare in other industries, but very common in consulting.
Here’s how this plays out… They could call a candidate who already has an offer and say:
“Hey Candidate, this is [Firm X]. I’m calling you because your entry date is scheduled to October 2020, but we’re wondering if you’d be OK with, or even enjoy starting at a later date. For example: February 2021 or April 2021. Many people enjoy traveling and taking some time off before they join consulting so they’re refreshed when they come in. If this doesn’t work with you, we’ll keep our agreement and you can join in October as we’ve talked in the past.”
Or they could tell candidates who’ve just gone through the process and gotten an offer and say:
“So, congratulations! We want to give you an offer! Would you rather join in our February 2021 cohort or in the April 2021 cohort? Unfortunately our October 2020 cohort is already full, so I hope the other ones work out for you. If they don’t, let us know.”
Now, you might be thinking: “Oh crap, I wish I just could start working ASAP… Will I have to wait another 6 extra months?”
And the answer is NO!!
(Not likely, at least.)
Here’s the thing: for this to work they don’t have to postpone everyone’s starting date. Just a few people’s.
And while a lot of candidates really want to start working as soon as possible, many are glad they can start later.
- They might have a job they enjoy already, and are glad to work there for another while.
- They might have a personal project they want to work on.
- They might not have had vacations in a long time.
- They might always have had the dream to travel for a year and this seem like an opportunity (I know, weird to think of long-term traveling now, but let’s hope travel is back before August of so…)
The point is: even if they do hire too many people right now, they have mechanisms to adjust this later. This lets them be less conservative in hiring than most companies.
WHY THIS MATTERS: Consulting firms will "flatten" the recruiting curve.
You might have noticed that all of this extra hiring that might happen right now will come at a cost: firms will hire proportionally less later.
In other words: just like healthcare systems today are talking about “flattening the curve” of infections so they can handle the cases better and less people will die, consulting firms will “flatten” the recruiting curve and recruit more than projects demand now, and less later.
Here’s a chart of what could happen to consulting recruiting:
The blue line is the “Project Demand Curve”, and it represents what will happen to the total amount of consulting projects (or more precisely, “billable hours”) due to the recession. Yes, it’s gonna go down, but it will probably soon pick up as clients will want to fix the problems caused by the lockdown and the economic recession.
But consulting firms will probably not cut hiring as abruptly as the drop in billable hours (this is represented by reasons #2 and #3 from this chapter). This is represented by the green line.
The green line is the “Hiring Curve”, that is, how much less new people joining consulting there might be across time. Hiring will probably fall less sharply than demand for projects, but it will probably take longer to recover too.
Finally, what really matters to you: the “Offer Curve” (in orange).
The “Offer Curve” represents the drop in offers across time.
It is flatter than the Hiring Curve because of reasons #4 and #5 of this chapter. (Recruiting cycles will be longer and some entry dates will be postponed).
It will also take the longest to recover to normal levels: when consulting firms are back with projects, a lot of the new spots will be filled by people who’ve been given an offer months ago.
Here’s what this “flattening of the curve” means to you:
- If you’re scared that there won’t be any recruiting right now because “no new projects”, RELAX. Yes, it will be harder to get an offer (in the next chapter I’ll break down exactly why and how this will play out). Yes, consulting firms won’t grow as fast. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your interviews now. People ARE getting offers right now (as I’ve shown you with some of the emails I received). It just means you should be more prepared.
- If you’re considering delaying your interviews because it will be easier later, BE CAREFUL. Yes, it might be easier later, but “later” might be a long, long time. The flattening of the recruiting curve is good news for those interviewing today, but bad news to those interviewing even a year from now.
- If you want not just to get an offer right now, but actually start working in consulting soon, ADJUST YOUR EXPECTATIONS. Yes, they will keep interviewing and yes, people will get offers. But interview processes might get delayed, and join dates might be delayed as well. You might be able to get an exception but most people won’t. Think of your career path and strategy considering that this is a possibility.
- And if you’re unsure you’ll interview soon or just months from now and if you should be preparing right now, KEEP A PREPARATION ROUTINE ANYWAY. I’ll dig more into this in the next chapter, but the short version of it is this: less people will get in and these are going to be only the best. First time I applied to consulting I dreamed of having more time to prepare, and failed due to the lack of it. You might just have gotten yourself a few extra weeks. Don’t waste them.
The "Hiring Pyramid" explained
In the last chapter I’ve shown you why consulting firms will keep recruiting people.
I’ve also shown you that while interviews will get more difficult, they’ll “flatten the curve” and hire MORE people than they “should” show, and LESS LATER.
In this chapter I’ll go into the mechanics of HOW will they make it more difficult to get the offer.
I’ll talk about how they will achieve this reduction (in red):
This matters to you because if you know the specific mechanisms they’ll use to give less offers, you can find ways to be less exposed to them (and thus maximize your chances of getting in).
It’s kind of like in this economic crisis…
Most companies lose revenue, but some companies are actually EXPANDING their business (e.g. remote work software, home gym equipment, video game companies, etc.)
Understanding where the reduction in hiring comes from is the best way to be less likely to be affected by it.
How would you reduce hiring, if you were a consulting firm?
- Stopping to receive applications and just recruit people who’ve applied before.
- Going to less career fairs, schools, etc. so that less candidates get motivated to apply.
- Raising the required test score for them to consider you for an interview.
- Tightening up their resume and cover letter screening.
- Making their interviews more difficult.
- Creating extra rounds of interviews, making each candidate less likely to pass to final rounds.
- Tightening the standards for a candidate to pass from one interview round to the other.
- Making their offer less attractive so that less candidates accept the offer.
- Rescinding offers to people who already got them.
- Profitability (how much will each lever cost compared to the other).
- Control (how much they can influence each lever as an organization, and what’s the maximum impact they can have with them).
- Brand impact (brand as an employer, in this case).
The Hiring Pyramid: How consulting firms will recruit less (and how you can use that to your favor)
Top consulting firms will use these 4 key levers to “adjust” their recruiting funnel so they hire the right amount of people in the coming recession:
This is what I call the “Hiring Pyramid”.
Now, before you freak out and think “OMG, I KNEW IT!! THEY’RE GONNA RESCIND MY OFFER”, keep reading because they probably won’t.
This is an inverted pyramid for a reason: firms will prefer to solve the over-hiring problem through the levers on the top of the pyramid before they move through to the bottom. I believe few offices and firms will rescind offers and most will be able to solve with the other levers.
Let’s see how they’ll do each of them.
LEVER #1: Advertising less
(The miracle of no-stress hiring cuts)
Changing a hiring process SUCKS.
Think about this:
Consulting firms have build this well-oiled machine that brings in hopeful candidates and spits out competent, motivated young consultants. They know (roughly) what percentage of candidates are gonna get the offer, how many of those will be good enough to get promoted (on average) and exactly what kind of people will get in.
This is a fine tuned delicate machine and frankly… You don’t want to change it.
Put less people through this machine.
If 50% less people went through the consulting recruiting funnel and they kept the funnel, processes and systems EXACTLY THE SAME, they’d hire 50% less people. Automatically.
Unfortunately, consulting firms can’t control how many people apply…
But they can control one thing: how much they put themselves out there.
During good times, you’ll see firms going out and about: they try to convince top people from other professions (lawyers, doctors) that consulting is a great career from them, invest resources to find the very best students of non-target schools and do all sorts of new initiatives to bring people into consulting.
I think they’ll cut or downplay many of those initiatives, and focus on the candidates who are already convinced they want to go into consulting anyway.
This is what I mean by “advertising less” (and I am using the word “advertising” loosely here).
This first lever won’t impact anyone’s chances of getting in. And consulting firms will probably do it — it doesn’t affect their brand and actually cuts some of the biggest cash costs of recruiting.
But the bad news is control over this lever is limited. Candidates can keep applying, and given the downturn, they’ll probably do so. I don’t know how much they can cut hiring in this lever alone, but I’d say 5-10% is a decent ballpark.
LEVER #2: Giving interviews to less people
(“Let’s toss this one into the ‘no’ pile”)
The easiest time to ding a candidate is before you even meet him.
That time interval between when you send them your application and they invite you to an interview is also the simplest tweak you can make to your hiring funnel without affecting the end result too much.
As we’re going to see soon, it’s not that easy to control what happens inside an interview. Interviews are decentralized — dozens of interviewers are interviewing hundreds of candidates in each office. No one is comparing one candidate directly to the other.
The “getting the interview” part of the process, however, is more centralized and, thus, controllable. You can make a top-down decision to just pass, say, the 20% best candidates to interview rounds instead of the 50% best. And that decision will be easily executed.
Not only is this easy, it is also in your full range of control (you could, in theory, just pass the top 1% candidates through to the interview rounds) and it’s cost effective (it takes less than a minute to ding a candidate at this step of the process, vs. 2-3 hours of an interviewer’s time in a first round of interviews).
Some ways they can make it harder for you to get the interview:
- Tightening up their resume/cover letter requirements.
- Increasing the minimum score in any tests and whatnot they have in their filtering process.
- Adding an extra pre-interview step that they didn’t have before (e.g. having an extra test, or requiring a pre-recorded video answering a few questions).
So, this is it, right?
Consulting firms will just move less people through to the interview round and that’s how they’re going to hire less people — leaving the interviews unaffected and not more difficult nor easier than before, right?
Maybe, but probably not.
There’s one big downside to this lever: at a certain point, it’s very hard to differentiate one candidate from another based on grades and a piece of paper. Some of the best candidates aren’t perfect on paper — and you can only find those in real interviews.
This might make them do a slight tweak in their interviewing process…
LEVER #3: Reducing their “interview-to-offer” rate
(“If in doubt, keep ’em out”)
Too many candidates are afraid nowadays that interviews will be “way too hard”, “impossible to pass”.
Yes, getting the offer will be slightly harder even once you get to the interview stage.
But the hardest part will be getting the interview in the first place.
Which means by the time you have an interview, you have decent chances of getting the offer. In fact, some firms may achieve all of their “decrease in candidate” need in the first two levers.
But what about those that do use Lever #3? How will they do it?
Here are a few options they have:
- Ask interviewers to use more difficult cases
- Do more interviews (e.g. 8 interviews instead of 6)
- Break down the same number of interviews into more round (e.g. 3 rounds of 2 interviews instead of 2 rounds of 3)
- Make the passing criteria stricter
The problem with most of these options is that different interviewers interview candidates in different ways. Most firms don’t have a strict standard on how interviews are to be done, and even within those that do (such as McKinsey), they’d need to retrain everyone for this once-in-a-lifetime event.
So the way firms actually execute on this is usually the same:
In most situations: if interviewers are in doubt they may do an extra interview or simply move the candidate to the final round and let the partners decide.
When they want to hire less: “If in doubt, keep ’em out!”
Here’s exactly how this plays out: let’s say you have a first round with a firm and you do 3 interviews in that round…
In normal circumstances, you may need 2 interviewers absolutely positive that you should move on to the next round and 1 that could be in doubt but he’s not against you moving on in order to pass. You don’t need all three of them to be super impressed, just two (and no one to be against you passing).
When they’ve made their criteria stricter, though, one interviewer in doubt could be enough to hold you from passing.
The same can happen in final rounds… In normal circumstances, if one partner loves you and the other isn’t so sure they will ask you to do a third partner interview… In this situation, they may simply ding you.
What this means to you is that you need to be extra CONSISTENT when interviewing in times like these.
If you’re able to impress 2 interviewers but not all 3, you obviously have the potential to impress all three of them, you just need more consistency.
And the way you get consistent is two-fold: (1) eliminating errors and (2) performing as well in edge cases as in common situations.
LEVER #4: Rescinding offers
This is a consulting firm’s last resource, for a few reasons:
- It is incredibly damaging to their brands with top schools (i.e. it will make people wary of accepting their offers in the future)
- In some regions, there may be some legal risk involved (I’m not a lawyer, though, so I don’t know)
- Most firms have ethics and standards
I added this fourth levers in this email for two reasons: (1) it does happen, albeit rarely at top firms, (2) people I’ve talked to are scared that it will happen to them.
Here’s a simple way to think about this:
- If you’re starting your process now or later you don’t have to worry about this because firms have much better levers to get what they want (Levers 1-3)
- If you just got an offer and you’re worried it might happen to you, the odds are in your favor the more the office/firm you got your offers from depend on candidates like you trusting them in the future.
So, for example: if you come from a top MBA school in the US and you just got into McKinsey’s NY office, your chances of getting an offer rescinded are very low. McKinsey NY needs future students from your MBA program to think they’re trustworthy.
If you got an offer from a smaller firm, or a firm that doesn’t care too much about their employer brand, they may rescind, depending in various factors including their cash flow and how much they respect their employees.
One last thing: if you got your offer in writing, they’re much less likely to rescind than a “trust me, we’ll sort this out” verbal offer.
Using the pyramid in your favor: how to get consulting offers even in an economic recession
So far so good — consulting firms will:
- Try to use Lever #1, but it won’t be very effective
- Double down on Lever #2 until they can’t really differentiate which candidates are good and which ones are not
- Adjust Lever #3 as needed by using “If in doubt, keep ’em out” types of practices
- And ONLY IF they seriously need to, use Lever #4
But how can you use this knowledge in your favor and get one or more consulting offers even as it gets harder to do so?
There are a few ways:
TACTIC #1: Maximize the number of interviews you get by intensifying outreach and 3X’ing your efforts to get the interview.
If you don’t yet have interviews scheduled, you should know 2 things:
(1) You’ll probably not get many right now (though it doesn’t hurt to try)
(2) It’s not gonna get easy to get interviews for a long while (because consulting firms will “flatten the curve”)
So, what should you do? Should you just throw the towel?
Of course not.
Here are a few things you can do to get more interviews:
- Outreach to more firms and offices than you normally would. Applying to consulting is NOT a numbers game, but numbers do help a bit.
- Spend 3-5X more time and effort in your resume and cover letter, as well as your pitch on why you want to join consulting. Most people spend very little time at this because they think it’s a formality. Even if it ever were in the past, it certainly won’t be anymore.
- Learn to network effectively. Most people think networking is being cool and extroverted. It is not. It is showing you’re competent and worth their time. Skip the HR tips and go learn this from people who know how to do it (some great videos on Youtube and podcasts on this, just use Google).
If you plan to have interviews around October, I’d give some focus to this.
TACTIC #2: Prepare in advance for your interviews (aka: PLAY TO WIN).
People won’t bump into a consulting job anymore (if they ever did).
Seriously, they’ll only give jobs to people who are extremely skilled at solving cases and showing they’ll be great consultants.
The bad news: you can’t achieve this level of skill and CONSISTENCY quickly.
The good news: nor can the other candidates.
The game has changed and while it will be completely possible to pass interviews and get the offer, it will get a bit harder — you’ll have to impress ALL your interviews, not just some of them.
How to do this? By practicing and learning the right technique to solve the problems you’ll be given. You can count on our free course as well as our paid courses to improve your technique and hone your skills, but at the end of the day it will require commitment and effort on your side.
Now, the real reason why preparing better for your interviews right now is so important is that if you fail your interviews, it might be a long time before you get another chance to interview with consulting firms again.
TACTIC #3: Get offers in writing.
This one is simple: if you do get an offer, let them know you need it in writing.
If they say it takes a while to send the official document, ask them to send you an email confirming they’re going to give you an offer.
Say you’re going through other interviews and you want to stop those processes and know for sure that you can do it securely — or give a different excuse, I don’t know.
The worst thing that can happen to you in this situation is to feel happy that you got the offer one day, and then anxious for a whole MONTH wondering if they’re going to keep their part of the promise.
Getting a consulting job hasn't really changed
In a sense getting a job in consulting hasn’t changed. You still need the same skillset. You still need to prepare the same.
It’s just a little harder, but not in the sense that most people think…
You don’t need a higher GPA necessarily. The cases won’t be harder.
What will change, though is that small mistakes will have bigger consequences.
“Throwing in” a poorly written resume with no underlying narrative may cost you some interviews that you could’ve gotten… Doing a small mistake that’d be forgiven in an interview might get you rejected…
To me this means: double down on your preparation now.
“But Bruno, it’s super hard to prepare right now during this crazy lockdown… How can I do it?”
I’ll show you how in the next chapter.
How to prepare effectively when you're locked-down
Who knew 2020 would be the year we’re all locked up in our apartments?
It doesn’t matter if you’re the type of person who’s feeling angry, lazy, depressed or even happy with this lockdown, one thing is for sure:
Your case prep routines HAVE been changed.
In this chapter I want to show you how to change them for the better, not for the worst.
Let’s say you’ll stay at least a whole extra month in lockdown mode…
You can use this month (or three) to do some good for your future self, or you can waste it away.
I’ve already covered in the past chapters how consulting will still be one of the best career paths during the downturn and how consulting firms will keep recruiting, albeit at a slower pace during these times of trouble.
But to be fully transparent, all of those chapters were to get you out of “frozen by fear” mode and reassure you that “yes, you still have chances”, “yes, it is still possible to get an offer” and “no, your efforts aren’t being thrown in the garbage”.
In a sense, they were all setting the stage for this one, because…
Your preparation is the one thing you CAN control
- “I’m confined in my 20sqmt apartment so it is much harder to work long hours as it becomes redundant.”
- “The intensity has stepped down, unfortunately, knowing now I have more time than expected.”
- “Now I am having more time to study, but with everything that is happening, I am very anxious and I can’t concentrate like before – too much information about the chaos that is coming.”
- “I honestly feel guilty for doing nothing during two weeks”
- Get your biology right
- Timebox your preparation (and stop feeling guilty the rest of the time)
- Find your “inner circle” to practice mock-interviews via video
- Triple down on drills
How do I know these work?
1. Get your biology right
This has nothing to do with your preparation, but everything to do with your motivation and learning abilities.
This means I have to cover this because all prep tips in the world won’t mean a thing if you can’t get out of bed, feel depressed and anxious the whole day. (This also means I’ll be short as this isn’t a health newsletter and I’m not a health specialist, even though I am a health geek).
There are THREE key things to watch out when quarantining that could destroy your motivation, learning and therefore your prep:
- Get SOME exercise every day (even a 10-minute light workout per day helps a lot).
- Try to keep sleep routine with full 8-hour nights and a reasonable sleep schedule.
- Try to get enough light/sun exposure (even if from a window).
These things are always important, but harder to get now. I’m covering them because if you neglect these you probably won’t follow my other tactics.
2. Timebox your preparation (and stop feeling guilty the rest of the time)
Timeboxing is a simple time management technique in which you schedule your to-do list in your calendar and do a fixed time of that activity.
But you don’t need to read an HBR article about it to do it… All you need to do is this:
Book some regular time in your calendar to do specific case prep activities (as you would a gym session) and then do it.
If the stuff you do is the same everyday, even better, as it helps you create a routine around it.
For instance, if you have an interview in a couple months and want to prepare around 3 hours per day during this lockdown, you could structure your prep like this:
- 8am-9am: Do drills on [Structuring/Estimating/etc.]
- 5pm-6pm: Do one mock interview with a friend / someone from the internet.
- 6pm-7pm: Read an article or watch a Youtube video on a topic I’m having trouble with.
Or if you have an interview in a couple weeks and are studying full time, you could have a fuller schedule:
- 8am-9am: Do drills on [Structuring/Estimating/etc.
- 9am-10am: Read an article or watch a Youtube video on a topic I’m having trouble with.
- 1pm-2pm: Do more drills
- 2pm-4pm: Do mock interviews with a friend / someone from the internet.
- 6pm-7pm: Do more drills
Or if you’re expecting to just have interviews in October and you just want to not forget what you’ve already learned or go back to your practice without spending a lot of time on it, you can pick a one hour time slot in your day and do one mock interview per day, use that one hour to go through Case Interview Fundamentals or do one hour of drills.
Now, the key thing is to treat your scheduled practice as a workout (i.e. get to it 80-90% of the time) and stop feeling guilty the rest of the time.
Truly — commit to something feasible that will help you get to where you want to be realistically and feel free to spend the rest of the time watching Netflix, reading the news, calling your friends on Zoom or playing video games, GUILT FREE.
3. Find your "inner circle" to practice via video calls
In this article about practicing case interviews we talk about how to find good partners and how to nurture your “inner circle”.
Here are two truths:
(1) Practicing with the same 3-4 case partners who are really good is WAY BETTER than having a variety of partners who aren’t that good (e.g. randos from PrepLounge).
(2) It does take some work to find these 3-4 good case partners, but you can usually do it in a day or two.
Now is a great time to do that, because:
- You’re locked down, so is a great time to practice via video.
- Your interviews are likely to be via video as well, so that’s the best kind of practice you can get.
- Everyone is locked down, so suddenly people from all over the world are willing to practice more via the internet.
Don’t waste this convergence of factors.
You can learn all you need to find good case partners and create your own “inner circle” in this article. It’s a truly beautiful thing to have 3 or 4 people who help and care about each other during their preparation and who evolve together in their skills.
4. Triple down on drills
Drills are the perfect tool to improve your preparation during a quarantine.
A few reasons why:
- You can do them anywhere where you have a piece of paper (and internet connection in case you’re using our drills).
- You can commit yourself to do just 15-30 minutes of drills at a time (vs. hours for case-solving), so even if your motivation isn’t great, you can do a couple drills a day.
- You don’t need anyone to do them with — even if you create your “inner circle”, you’ll often be by yourself in this lockdown, and you can use drills to use that time productively.
If you’re 100% focused on your preparation, they’re the tool that is going to help you improve rapidly in the specific skills you need the most improvement on.
And if you’re just warming up or trying to maintain your performance for the future, they’re the most efficient way to maintain your skills during this period of time.
You can use the drills from Case Interview Fundamentals to get started and you could even re-do them in case you’ve already done most or all of them. Many candidates tell us that they learned even more the second time they went through it.
And, of course, one of the best ways to improve your practice through drills is to join our Structuring Drills program (for drills on Brainstorming, Frameworks and Hypothesis Testing) and our Master Market Sizing program (for estimation drills, along with all the systems and techniques you need to master estimation cases).
You can also do drills on your own or using questions from casebooks — it’s not nearly effective as using the drills from our free and paid courses (as the example answers are inexistent or hard to understand/compare your too), but it is a more efficient way to prepare than doing mock-interviews all day long.
The truth is that the difference between the candidate who did 20-30 cases during this quarantine and barely improved, and the candidate who also did 20-30 cases and had massive breakthroughs in their performance is an hour a day during drills — this is the highest bang for the buck you can get in case interview prep.
You have more time now, will you use it well or let it go?
I’ve gotta say that I too am much less productive than I used to be during this pandemic.
But I decided to get out of it better than I was before.
To me that means creating good content that helps you pass your interviews and doing things that help Crafting Cases reach more people.
If you’re reading up to this point of the email, my bet is that to you a top priority is getting some prep done.
And the way to do this is very simple:
- Make sure your biology is alright (exercise, sleep, sun, etc.).
- BOOK TIME ON YOUR CALENDAR for preparation (even 1 hour/day is great).
- Find 3-4 people to prepare with quality in the next few days (start with finding ONE, this is your first task).
- Include some time for practice drills within that calendar scheduling.
I know I wrote a lot, but it’s really simple to get good preparation done during these trying times. All you need to do is the 4 things above.
And if you do so, you’ll reap the rewards later:
- You’ll get a great job in a time that most people feel lucky to have a job.
- You’ll feel extremely prepared and confident in your interviews.
- You’ll feel good about yourself for having done all you could to get what you want.
Better to do some hard work now than to regret later.
Positioning yourself as a great candidate
The other day, a candidate asked me:
How can you position yourself as a great candidate during these times of coronavirus? What changes from the interviewer’s perspective?
I thought this was such a clever question because it goes beyond “how to not get screwed in this situation” and embraces opportunity: “how can I thrive because of this?”
In this chapter I’ll cover the four levers that can give you an advantage during this period.
- Exactly how to perform well in video (or phone) interviews (including how to communicate, connect with your interviewer and use the tech in your favor, not against you).
- Why the “charisma bonus” is being shifted to a “competence bonus” now that interviews are remote.
- How to position yourself as the perfect professional for the post-pandemic world.
- Why you should expect more and more “coronavirus” cases in real interviews.
How to do video conference (and phone) interviews
- Are there any traps (apart from less “emotional” connection) that occur more often in video interviews than in real life interviews?
- Where to look? Should I show my paper structuring over the camera? How do I not look awkward?
- How do I communicate my structure?
Mastering the remote interview format is an excellent way to show you’re professional and well-prepared for any situation.
Why the "charisma bonus" is being shifted to a "competence bonus"
Interviewers are human.
Humans like charismatic people.
This means that they’re more likely to hire someone more charismatic, other things being equal.
So, even though consulting firms put every effort to make their hiring process as unbiased and systematic as possible (even trying to “quantify” things like “leadership” and “culture fit”), there is still a “charisma bonus” that happens in interviews.
Like it or not, it is harder to “feel” someone on remote interviews. This means the “charisma bonus” may fade away.
It will be replaced by a “competence bonus”.
This competence bonus will happen because in remote interviews, there’s little more that can change a interviewer’s opinions than your ability to solve the problem really really well.
Sure, you can look better on video, or you can dress nicer…
But it’s WAY harder to get that feeling of “I don’t know why, but I really like this person” in a remote interview than in an in-person interview.
This means that how much your competence will correlate with your chances of getting the offer will go higher and higher.
Being well-prepared now is more important than ever. This includes your problem-solving skills, your communication skills and your ability to convey you are right for consulting and the firm through storytelling and good arguments.
One more reason why you should use your extra time to prepare better.
But learning the nuances of remote interviews and preparing to improve your “competence bonus” aren’t the only two lever you can use to have an advantage during these times. You can also…
Position yourself as the perfect professional for the post-pandemic world
Ever heard about how while Winston Churchill was the perfect prime minister for the wartime, he didn’t make for good leadership in times of peace?
Or how certain investors thrive in stable bull markets, while others make their money during crises?
Well, the same pattern works for business professionals.
I’ve once met an executive who was famous for turning around companies that were in the on the brink of bankruptcy. He built a whole career around that. He’d be hired by companies that were failing (with a big bonus in case he succeeded) as their last resource before failing. Once he succeeded and the company was thriving again, he’d move on to a new challenge (in part because thriving companies wasn’t his sweet spot, in part because no one likes to work with a psycho in times of peace).
Think of him as an Intensivist for companies in the ICU.
You may not want a career where you’re famous for handling crises well, but you sure want to show your interviewer that you’re not just a good professional, but a good professional for times like these as well.
In other words, during your interview you’ll want to — if it makes sense in the context of that interview — show your interviewer that you have some skill or experience that will be useful in the next year or two.
For example, you’d want to show things like:
- Experience with turning around companies or dealing with massive cost-cuts or reorganization projects that you participated in.
- Dealing with stressful situations (even if non-business related) where rapid decisions with potentially high consequences needed to be made.
- Ability to self-manage your work, work remotely or anything the shows them you’ll keep being productive whether in an office or in any other office arrangement.
- Knowledge or experience of areas that are likely to be in demand in your region in the next couple years (in manufacturing areas this could be restructuring supply chains, in financial centers it could be credit restructuring, etc.)
But be careful…
You don’t want to force any of these in your interview.
The job description hasn’t changed and your interviewer will be looking for the fundamentals as they always have.
In fact, it probably hasn’t crossed their mind that the job might change in the next couple years and that this could influence the type of people they should be hiring.
So never force this in, and if you do talk about one of these things, show, don’t tell.
And if you don’t have anything relevant that would position yourself as a great professional in these times, don’t worry. Countries aren’t changing their prime ministers because another one would be better in a troubled world, and firms won’t make this criterion a top priority.
But if you do have something relevant, and you can work it in your stories without being awkward, this could be your cherry on top.
Be ready for "coronavirus" cases in the next few months (and years)
Imagine you were going to interview with a partner and you knew there was a 20-30% chance of getting a case in the retail industry.
Great news, right?
Now you have something specific to focus on!
The right strategy to follow in this situation would be to:
(1) Prepare exactly the same way as if you didn’t know that information for 90% of your prep time (so you get the fundamentals right and are prepared for any case).
(2) Use about 10% of your prep time preparing for retail industry cases — doing framework and brainstorming drills for retail, looking up which analyses show up most often in retail cases, etc.
Well, the same thing will probably happen starting now — except that it’s not retail cases that will be common, but cases and questions within cases related to this crisis.
Interviewers love to do cases and ask questions for which there’s no “pre-made” framework that would work well.
This is the easiest way for them to separate the wheat from the chaff. When they do a case that has a readily available framework, they may think the candidate who has memorize most stuff is better than the candidate who actually thinks well… But when they do a case for which no pre-made framework works well, the distinction is crystal clear: “framework robots” will freeze, while real problem solvers will thrive.
So, because most interviewers develop their own cases (and use situations that are top of mind, including current project work to do that), and because they prefer novel rather than common situations to build their cases around, I expect a ton of cases related to the new world situation in the near future.
I expect most coronavirus-related cases to be in the following categories:
- A country or health system needs to deal with a situation caused by the virus (health-related, or something else like public order, surveillance, domestic violence, etc.) or is trying to set up systems to prepare for other new pandemics.
- A company wants to deal with a short-term supply shock or demand shock and needs to do this quickly in order to keep working. (In this case, demand could have gone up, down or shifted, and supply could have gone down or also shifted).
- A company is going bankrupt and needs to deal with this situation in some way in order to survive (cut costs while doing the least harm possible, managing cash flow differently, selling inventory, an asset or division quickly, etc.).
This is different from the previous bullet because that one was about managing the change and this one is about making the company survive.
A company or government expects a long period of lockdown and/or a downturn and they want to create a strategy for the new economic/social environment.
Also, I expect a lot of cases that are NOT related to the coronavirus or the post-pandemic world to have a “bonus question” related to this.
For instance, an interviewer who has for a long time used a case about a toothbrush company that’s considering to enter a new market might keep the case intact, and then add a last question at the end:
“Now, suppose that after we did this analysis and presented it to the CEO, the Coronavirus breakout occurred and lockdowns have started… How would this change your recommendation?”
What this all means to you is that you should prepare for these “Coronavirus-specific questions”.
No, it should not be the whole focus of your preparation.
The fundamentals haven’t changed, and most cases will still be normal.
But should you assign 5-10% of your prep time to this? Probably.
And there is a super-efficient way to do this: for every case that you do from now on, either switch the initial question to a coronavirus-related question or add a question at the end of it that adds a coronavirus-related case question.
This way you’ll spend 5-10 minutes more per case, but will have done dozens of drills on coronavirus-related questions by the time you get to your interviews.
Now, one question you might be asking yourself…
“What changes in the way I should approach these “coronavirus” questions or cases?”
The fundamentals haven’t changed, and the interviewer will still be looking for your problem-solving fundamentals. The same steps that you need to solve a brainstorming, framework, hypothesis-testing, estimation, chart or analysis question still apply.
The only change is the situation — though this has real impact in the types of structure you’ll build and the types of hypotheses you’ll generate.
Which makes this worth practicing.
So, here's your quick checklist to stand out as a candidate in times of coronavirus:
Number 1: Get smart about remote interviews by checking out our new article about how to do video and phone interviews well.
Number 2: Prepare better so you blow away your interviewer and get the “competence bonus”
Number 3: Position yourself as not only a great professional, but a great professional in these times of crisis (if possible… don’t force it, but work it in your stories as a cherry on top).
Number 4: Add coronavirus-specific questions to your preparation — this will add 5 minutes per case that you solve, but have disproportionate results and you’ll be one of the only people well-prepared for this.
How to thrive in times of chaos
I wrote this guide so you could get a consulting offer during this pandemic.
Can I promise this to everyone? Of course not. I couldn’t even promise this before.
But I wanted to give my perspective to serious candidates on what will give them the best chances.
Some of the advice I gave here might even be insightful… But if you look closely, a lot of what I’ve shared is simple, even pedestrian.
There’s a reason for that.
Most people want magic bullets and sexy advice when things are tough. Even Isaac Newton studied alchemy back in the day (good thing he hedged his bets by developing calculus and modern physics too).
And if you look in the news today, you’re going to notice a lot of people (even presidents) hoping for deus ex-machina solutions for the pandemic problem (chloroquine, a new vaccine, etc.).
Unfortunately this also takes they attention (and money) away from the fundamentals that work: testing, tracing, targeted isolation.
Anyway, this is not a rant about how leaders are dealing with the virus issue, so why do I say all this?
Because (1) things have changed in recruiting, and (2) much of what you need to do to be successful is similar (but the nuances matter).
One thing I’ve learned over the years, first as a consultant, then running my own business is that when chaos arrives you need to do three things:
Thing #1: Understand the structure of the chaos as quickly as possible, so you can act fast.
Thing #2: Understand what basic, fundamental things will keep working.
Thing #3: Understand what new opportunities are arising.
It’s easy to get upset when life changes. I do this, you probably do this. It’s human.
What really matters is what happens after getting upset. Most people freeze. Others breathe and adapt.
I wrote this guide so you could adapt to your situation too. I wanted to make sure you understand exactly what has changed, the structure of the change. I also wanted to show you what you should keep doing and what new opportunities exist.
One of the biggest opportunities is simply the fact that most people have frozen. They’re stuck, pessimistic and uncertain about what they should still do.
This reduces your competition, as long as you act and prepare and do something for yourself.
If you’re looking for a job or a career change, this isn’t the best time.
Some people will say “Oh god, why me?”… Others will see this as a strong reason to be even more prepared for the interviews they have.
Guess who’s going to get all the offers?
PS: If you want to ACT but are unsure what to do, finishing our free course, Case Interview Fundamentals is probably one of the easiest ways to get ahead of everyone else. We’ve seen hundreds of people getting offers just from this free program alone.