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Consultancy is the process of advising companies (clients) on the practices that will improve performance, increase efficiency, save money or generate money within their business; consultants produce plans after a review of operations and strategy and are then responsible for implementing these proposals and training employees accordingly.

There are many different routes a consultancy graduate career could take, from Management to HR and IT to Strategy. Within each sub-sector there are different industry practices, but all have a similar overall goal: to add value to a client's business in response to a specific brief.

The largest consultancy firms are household names such as KPMG, Deloitte and PWC. There are also many smaller, niche firms that take advantage of providing a targeted offering to their clients.

Average Consultancy Graduate Salary

Consultancy Graduate Career Path

Here at the GRB, our experience shows that a consultancy graduate career is becoming more appealing to graduates; they see the field as an alternative to entering the Banking and Finance sector. It can offer the same kind of intellectual challenge, with similar financial rewards. Furthermore, a career in consultancy offers a graduate the opportunity to actually use the transferable skills they gained during their degree (something many graduates tell our GRB consultants they are looking for). Analytical skills, presentations skills, numeracy and communication skills are all essential requirements to make a successful consultant.

Because it is such a broad sector, no two graduate consultancy jobs are instantly comparable - however there are certain activities that most types of consultant will perform. On a day to day basis a graduate consultant might:

  • Interview clients and clients' employees to assess a business situation
  • Organise and attend conference calls and client meetings
  • Collate data and build models Assist with process mapping 
  • Formulate work plans 
  • Create clear presentations of complex information
  • Build tools and systems for clients 
  • Client training 
  • Carry out trouble shooting final solutions

A consultancy career can be challenging and rewarding in equal measure. Graduates will get the opportunity to utilise the transferable skills they picked up at university whilst enjoying the perks of working in a big firm. Consultants will have to get on with long working hours but have lots of opportunity for travel.

Graduates will start their consultancy career at 'analyst' level, a supporting role to an established management consultant, researching or actioning data driven requests. Client facing work can also be required at this stage when a new recruit is responsible for processing data and presenting it in a user friendly format to the business. You might also be number crunching at this stage but will soon move on to the strategic consultancy side of the business.

Most consultancies are meritocratic environments, where the individual is responsible for their own success. Progress through the ranks can be swift, but graduates must understand that they first have to learn and master the trade. The ultimate goal for many consultants is to make partner of the firm, or to break out in their own specialist or niche consultancy.

Qualifications and Skills Needed

What proportion of candidates as a percent we place into Consultancy graduate careers and the typical qualities graduate employers look for.

GRB Placements for Consultancy by Degree

Typical Candidate Attributes

Most degree disciplines can be transferred to make a successful graduate consultant, but students with a 2:1 or above from IT, Economics, Mathematics and other numerate subjects may find it easier to specialise earlier on in their consultancy careers. Languages can also be a particular advantage, as many organisations operate internationally and need good communicators to build on global relationships. Any work experience gained within the sector is invaluable. An internship, a placement, even a week's work-shadowing would make a graduate application more desirable. Most of all, graduates must display the certain personality that is required to be an effective consultant; these include a savvy, clued up nature, the ability to work at pace and the consistency to always produce accurate, thorough work.

Desirable skills and attributes include:

  • The ability to work in a team;
  • Interpersonal and communication (both oral and written) skills;
  • Creativity and innovation;
  • Problem-solving and strategic planning ability;
  • Analytical skills;
  • Flexibility;
  • The ability to cope with pressure and challenges;
  • Commercial awareness and understanding of business environments.

Sources for Further Information

Management Consultancies Association