McKinseyites at San Francisco GLAM Private event.
McKinsey is one of the most sought-after consulting firms for MBAs to work for.
And the firm is highly selective of who they let in. In 2018, McKinsey hired just 8,000 people out of 800,000 applicants. In an article for Business Insider, reporter Weng Cheong explores the hiring policy at McKinsey and how it’s revolutionized the industry as a whole.
YOUTH OVER EXPERIENCE
Cheong says McKinsey’s hiring strategy deliberately selects youth over experience, something that the firm focused on starting in the late 1950s.
“In 1953, McKinsey hired its first two top HBS graduates, despite skepticism from more experienced consultants and legendary managing director Marvin Bower,” Cheong writes. “It quickly became a core strategy.”
Duff McDonald, author of “The Firm,” explores the history of McKinsey’s hiring strategy from past to present.
In his book, McDonald finds that between 1950 and 1959, consultants grew to nearly 80% of the firm while the median age of consultants declined by almost 10 years.
McDonald says the strategy of hiring younger consultants was tied to the belief that “It’s easier to mold a young mind than to change an older one.”
And experts say the ideal McKinsey candidate is one who often is seen as an “insecure overachiever.”
“The people at these schools are driven by the desire for status and fear of failure. … When you graduate, you reach that terrifying point in your life when the next thing you do is not obvious, when there are a lot more choices than before. McKinsey makes it very easy for people whose primary goal is to keep their options open,” James Kwak, a former consultant, reveals in McDonald’s book.
MCKINSEY CREATED A NEW STANDARD
McKinsey’s hiring strategy of hiring young professionals, experts say, helped to create value in its consultants.
Much of that value, Cheong writes, comes from the notoriously rigorous hiring process which vets candidates to only keep the best of the best.
In turn, the firm molds and develops its young talent with the financial backing of clients.
“McKinsey had perfected personnel development. It hired the young and inexperienced for a pittance, then made its clients pay for their further education,” McDonald writes.
McKinsey’s strategy, in many ways, helped to legitimize and bring value to the industry.
“Through its extensive alumni network, job-placement expertise, and hiring practices, McKinsey has helped create the management and MBA elite that is so influential today,” Cheong writes. “By demonstrating that relatively cheaper youth can outperform expensive experience, they helped build a hiring culture that’s become a business standard. It’s yet another example of the massive influence of the firm.”
Gaps in an MBA resume can cause concern for admissions officers.
But what exactly is the right way to address them in your application? Jessica Chung, former Associate Director of Admissions at UCLA Anderson and admissions coach at Fortuna, offers a few tips on how applicants can effectively address a gap in their MBA resume.
“As an expert coach with Fortuna Admissions, I always advise candidates with this concern not to hide or gloss over it,” Chung writes. “Silence is not a strategy. Hoping your admissions reviewer just won’t notice rarely works and won’t win you any favors.”
The general rule of thumb when it comes to addressing gaps, according to Clear Admit, is to focus on ones that are three months or longer.
When explaining a gap in your resume, Chung says, it’s important to not use excuses but rather, be sincere and straightforward in the reason for the gap.
“Maybe you took time off to start an entrepreneurial venture, initiated a career switch or got laid off,” she writes. “Or maybe illness or other personal circumstances were to blame. Whatever the reason, what’s best is to provide a straightforward explanation versus an excuse.”
Being straightforward, Chung says, will give admissions officers context into your application as a whole.
“You want them to assess your candidacy from a place of understanding as they review your entire application,” she writes. “Express honesty and reflection, with an awareness that your reasoning may alleviate any concerns.”
It’s okay to have a gap in your resume. What’s more important, Chung says, is to demonstrate the lessons that you’ve learned.
“For example, if you were laid off, perhaps the unexpected break gave you an opportunity for valuable introspection instead of rushing into another job that may or may not be a good fit,” Chung writes. “If you took the time to reassess your career evolution, next steps, and the kind of impact you wanted your next position to have on your career, it can suggest both clarity of purpose and maturity.”
USE THE OPTIONAL ESSAY
Experts say the optional essay is a good place to address gaps in your resume.
While it’s important to offer context, Chung says, make sure to be concise in your explanation.
“Did you spend this time in other meaningful activities, such as studying for the CFA exam or conducting informational interviews with individuals in a role you aspire for? Perhaps you took a gap year immediately after undergraduate studies to volunteer abroad, imparting renewed purpose and ambition, which in turn can provide great insight into your personal development and motivations,” Chung writes.
Columbia Business School 2019 graduation
Columbia Business School and TIME are releasing a new series of online, on-demand business classes designed to help people build skills in times of economic uncertainty.
The b-school announced that the series, “The Business of Change,” will focus on building and expanding critical skills both in and out of the office. Classes are designed to help people expand their professional skills. These topics include the essential skills to become a more successful leader; creating a customer-centric marketing strategy; the fundamentals of corporate finance; negotiation skills; and more.
“As recent events have demonstrated, the world can change in extraordinary ways quite quickly,” Pierre Yared, the MUTB Professor of International Business and Vice Dean for Executive Education at Columbia Business School, says in a press release. “Now more than ever, executives and professionals – both new and experienced – must be equipped with advanced skills and knowledge to effectively seize new opportunities, navigate through uncertainty, and thrive in any environment.”
The program, which will be hosted online, will feature online classes open for 90 days from date purchased. Classes are fully on-demand and self-guided and delivered via recorded media. The expected weekly time commitment is 1-3 hours. Additionally, courses will be offered at an accessible price with the support of Columbia Business School’s corporate partner Deluxe.
Students won’t earn university credits for taking the courses; however, they will receive a Certificate of Participation in the Business of Change Program from Columbia Business School and TIME.
One of the goals of the program, according to officials, is to help champion businesses by offering practical skills to individuals.
“Being at the forefront of innovative educational opportunities with Columbia and TIME is something Deluxe is proud to be part of. Our mission is to champion business so communities thrive. Right now, businesses of all sizes are struggling and so are their communities, so it is incumbent on us to step forward and support educational opportunities such as these,” Chris Thomas, Chief Revenue Officer of Deluxe, says in a press release. “Entrepreneurs and business owners are hungry for tools that will help them pivot and thrive in this new reality.”