Help, I want to be a Consultant - Use KSA's to close the deal...

Are you considering a lucrative and prestigious career in consulting? Ask yourself:
• When can I start?
• Where can I start?
• What will my salary be?
• Will I get to travel all over the world?

It is essential that you understand the perspective of the decision makers – the recruiters. As an industry insider, let me unveil some of the mystery involved in recruiting, business consultants...

As an MBA Career Counselor I bridge the gap between hundreds of candidates and employers, the recruited and the recruiters. Daily, this is an eye-opening experience. Frequently, both sides would like a similar outcome - a successful hire. However, often they do not speak the same language. Even more challenging, is that they do not realize this discrepancy and become frustrated with the entire process of job-search and/or the candidate-selection process.

Is it possible for you to become a consultant in 1 career move, or is this more of a long-range plan? The answer will depend entirely on your KSA's. You will need to convince a recruiter to take a chance and hire you. Let’s use the concept of KSA’s (knowledge, skills and abilities) to determine ‘fit.’ For the purposes of this discussion, let’s look at the Federal Governments’ definition of KSA (CDC definition) Of note: when crafting a Federal job application, these KSA’s are an essential part of your application file.


Knowledge: “an organized body of information usually of a factual or procedural nature which is applied directly to the performance of a job-function.” Typically, most consulting firms want very experienced candidates 8+ years of specialist, experience. There are some small or boutique firms who will consider, exceptional, junior candidates. These new recruits will work under the direct guidance and supervision of a senior partner. The market for this type of recruitment is a fraction of the overall, consulting recruitment market.


Skills: “refers to the proficient, manual, verbal or mental manipulation of data or things. Traditionally, skills can be measured by a timed, performance test.”For instance, an accounting consultant or auditor may be given an Excel table and asked to find the errors in the formulations. A business analyst may be asked to present a business case for discussion. If you have professional certifications, which are test or project based let the recruiter know. Ie: Six Sigma, PMP, A+ certification etc.


Ability: “this refers to the power to perform an observable activity at the present time. This means that abilities have been evidenced through activities or behaviors that are similar to those required on the job.” For many business roles, this is tested by conducting rigorous case study or behavioral interviews. Candidates are given real-world, business scenarios and must solve these challenges in real-time while explaining their thought process and logic. “Note: Abilities are different from aptitudes. Aptitudes are only the potential for performing the activity”.


Ask yourself

1. Do I have the desired KSA’s? How do I know I have the correct KSA’s?

2. What is the typical candidate profile of the firm? (ie: Ivy league only, 10+ yrs experience etc)

3. Do I have specialist knowledge to offer a firm, which is unique and marketable?

4. Who is my direct competition? What do they have that I lack?

5. What is the company culture at the firm I’m considering, does it fit my personality?

6. What is the career lifespan or longevity of a ‘potential, new hire?”

7. What is the typical work week (ie: 65-80 hours). Does this fit my lifestyle?

The top  consulting firms have a wealth of exceptional candidates to choose from.To be competitive you'll need to have a deep well of experience to draw from, a top educational pedigree and a near perfect GPA.  If hired, expect to work almost double the average work week (65-80 hours). Once hired, many consultants struggle to adjust to the extreme, work-hours and deliverables required by the firm. As such, the big firms are permanently in recruiting mode.That said, if you have internal contacts in a firm you may bypass the normal recruitment process and miraculously land an interview. I've seen this happen to the most unlikely applicants. This can get your foot in the door. However you will still need to prove your KSA’s and close the deal and be an exceptional performer on the job.

Related posts:

What are your Strenghts and Weakness': Conduct a SWOT Analysis to Find out!
Plan And Execute Your Job Search Strategy Using Gantt Charts

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Author: © 2014 - All Rights Reserved - Sharon B. Cohen, MA, Counseling Psychology, CPRP.
Social Media Strategist and Career Specialist. "Virtual Career Counseling: helping business professionals, reach their career potential!"

• Sharon B. Cohen on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/sharonbcohen/
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