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Inside View: Huntswood

Huntswood typically places candidates with two or three years of post-MBA experience in specialist consulting firms

This week we speak to Stephen Humphreys, Recruitment Manager at Huntswood.

Huntswood is a business processing outsourcer and recruitment firm focused on clients that are facing governance, risk management and regulatory challenges within the UK financial services sector. On the recruitment side they cover contract, interim and permanent recruitment within financial services, management consultancy and industry and commerce.

Stephen is responsible for placing people in both large and specialist consultancy firms. He tells us that top jobs are still available for applicants with relevant experience, all round abilities, and realistic expectations.

What is your role?
I run management consultancy recruitment at Huntswood, and have done for two years.

Are companies still recruiting in the same numbers as they were?
It depends on the individual markets. We’re still seeing about the same volume of vacancies for management consultancy positions as we have been seeing for the last few years, although the recruitment process does seem to be taking a bit longer.

Jobs in consulting, project and programme management, and those in areas such as branding, marketing and sales strategies, and consumer insights, are also holding up well, but this isn’t necessarily the case everywhere.

For example, recruitment for business consultancy in financial services seems to have slowed down over the past six to nine months.

Do you often hire MBAs?
Yes, we do, although most large companies have their own channels for recruiting MBAs directly, so won’t always hire people through us.

We are more likely to be involved with finding MBAs with strong, relevant experience for small, specialist consultancy firms. In fact, experience is extremely important in general. Those who are most successful when applying to management consultancy jobs through us have two to three years of post MBA experience.

What advice would you give to somebody hoping to find a job in management consultancy?
The key message from me would be that an MBA course isn’t an automatic passport into a great job– you need to get some good, targeted experience under your belt before you embark on an MBA. Obviously, there are exceptions where truly fantastic applicants get jobs without having experience directly suited to a job in management consultancy, but this is far from normal. 

Gain an awareness of the transferable skills you might already have, and be selective at the application process: make an effort to pitch yourself to the companies to which you are well-matched. 

Finally, it’s important to have realistic expectations of what salary you might receive immediately after an MBA, and in particular to consider that the further you move away from your previous career experience, the lower your salary is likely to be.

What do you think is the most exciting thing about a job in management consultancy?
Definitely the variety – the range of clients, and the different things you get to be involved in. 

For careerists, a job in management consultancy is perfect. The learning curve is steep, and the fact that you get exposed to so many different aspects of the business so quickly means that three years in a management consultancy position can equate to more like five or six years of experience elsewhere. If your goal is a senior-line role, you should seriously consider management consultancy as the way forward.

What part of the application process do you think is most important in finding the best candidate?
The truth is, it’s all important! Obviously, we wouldn’t interview a candidate with a poor CV, so CVs are vital in getting your foot in the door. In my opinion, a CV which is only one page long is nowhere near enough to show that you have sufficient experience – I would recommend more like two to five pages.

The interview process is equally revealing, and some candidates with great CVs might not interview as well as you hoped. For management consultancy, it really is about being good at everything: you need to be clever, analytical, well-presented, social, and have personality. A lot of people manage to excel in a couple of areas, but it’s those exceptional people who do well across the board that we’re looking for!


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