Why Do Management Consultants Change Consulting Firms? (Part 2)

We’re management consulting recruiters.  We recruit experienced management consultants from their current firms to consulting and corporate roles with our clients.  Prospective clients and candidates often ask us why experienced management consultants are willing to change consulting firms.

As you’d expect, there are several reasons, falling into a few categories.  We’ll call the categories focus, future opportunity, peers, and lifestyle.  We discussed focus in an earlier post.  We’ll discuss future opportunity, peers, and travel in this article.

By future opportunity, we mean the likely career progression for the candidates if they join our client.  Most candidates are interested in a role that allows them to take on increased responsibilities faster than they will with their current firm.  This is especially true, and a likely motivator, when they’re considering leaving a large firm and joining a boutique or mid-size consulting firm.  When you’re interviewing consulting candidates, showing them that rapid promotion is possible with exceptional achievement dramatically increases the chances of hiring success.  We find that this is particularly relevant when recruiting consultants rated at the top of their class at their current firm.

Sometimes experienced consultants are attracted to another consulting firm because of the opportunity to work with others with similar interests and/or backgrounds.  This is closely related to the ability to focus in an area of interest that we discussed in a prior article.  Joining a firm or practice with a specialty that matches candidates’ interests allows candidates to work with and exchange ideas with peers with similar interests and develop deeper expertise.  We’ve had several candidates site the backgrounds of the individuals they’d be working with and the opportunity to learn from them as a prime motivation for taking a job with a client firm.

When talking with consultants, lifestyle translates almost directly into the amount of required travel.  Consulting firms that focus on clients in the local market, or don’t work at the client site, can offer the opportunity to remain in consulting while reducing or eliminating travel.  This is attractive to many of the consultants we talk with.  The number one reason consultants tell us they’re willing to consider another role is because of their travel.  They enjoy the work they do, but aren’t willing to continue to sacrifice their personal lives to do it.  Many believe this requires leaving consulting for a corporate role.  An opportunity to continue in a management consulting career while traveling significantly less is often attractive to experienced consultants.

In summary, if you want to hire experienced consultants, ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­identify and make clear how a role at your firm differs from their current firm.  Show them the differences that exist on these key factors: the focus of the work they’ll be doing and the people they’ll be working with, the opportunities for rapid promotion for performance, and/or an improved lifestyle.

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