Question: Are Consulting Firms Hiring Less Due to Economy?

I wanted to get your opinion and insight on this: Do you feel that consulting firms, especially the Big 3 and Booz & Co., will be cutting back on the number of undergraduates they hire for full-time consulting positions in the upcoming Fall 2011 recruiting cycle, considering the recent wave of strong economic uncertainty in the U.S. and the world, and the fact that several large banks have announced layoffs to come?

I am seeking a full time position in one of those firms in New York City, and am worrying that the recent gloom on the global economy will hinder my prospects.

Thank you and I look forward to hearng your response on this. I appreciate it.

— My Reply —-

I wouldn’t worry too much about the macro-economy. Keep in mind when companies face a crisis, sometimes there is an even greater demand for consultants than when things are going well.

In my own consulting practice, my business has been up these last 3 years — not despite the economic but rather BECAUSE of the tough economy.

I have several clients with $100M in sales with no profit for 3 years in a row. At some point, they get sick of it and realize that unless they do something different (beyond their usual inclinations), nothing is going to change… and that’s when I get the call.

As firms structure layoffs, who do you think recommends who to lay off and what parts of the business to shut down? When I was at McKinsey, the “manual” for how to do a structuring was a 1,000 page guide + financial model templates.

What does change, is mix of projects. Growth strategy projects perhaps decline. Turnaround strategy, cost reduction, and M&A projects can pickup.

Bottom-line it’s hard to predict how the economy changes hiring needs at consulting firms. I don’t think its wise to automatically assume certain things to be true and not apply/prepare based on these inconclusive conclusions.

I receive several hundred emails a month from my newsletter and blog readers, and I have not seen any indications that firms are not hiring. Lots of people getting offers globally these past few years. I expect the next 12 months to be no different.