How do you pick the firm to build your career: prestige, ranking, salary, feedback from friends or friendliness of the interviewer? Actually none of these will help you. In this podcast we explain how outstanding consultants build their careers and what you need to consider when choosing a firm.

The single most important issue is whether or not you can find a partner who is willing to take the time to groom you. With this guidance, your path to the top will be much, much tougher.

If you factor in the time value of money and the life-time-compensation picture as well as the long-term plan you have in mind, an additional $35K means next to nothing.

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4 responses to Comparing Offers between firms

  1. Hannah,

    You are absolutely right about culture and income levels playing a big role here. In some cultures, it would be frowned upon. In other cases, consultants tend to become insular if they feel they are not worthy.

    The key is to decide that your worth is not tied to your degree or background. You are worthy just because you are you. That is all that matters.

    We absolutely correlate status with money. But you can still be friends with rich people even if you are poor. Friends should be status blind!


  2. Hi Michael,

    Thank you for the advice.

    1. About the question regarding how to know if the partner is willing to mentor you, I meant after you get the offer. But I guess it’s too early to discuss this now (I was just curious, as always). We can talk about it later when the time comes.

    2. It’s very cool to see that you were able to chat like peers with partners. I would say that this ability is based on 3 factors:
    -First, the culture. Some cultures (Asia in particular, Japan as an extreme example) do not allow questioning the authority. So it’s hard to communicate with your bosses as friends if that thinking is so deeply rooted in you.
    -Second, your confidence level. If you think that you are just as capable (though less experienced and less training) as the partner then it makes it easier to communicate. Once you think that your boss is always right then the dynamics of the relationship changes.
    -Third, your own maturity/character. I think you have a rare combination of high maturity level and charismatic personality that makes people feel comfortable around you. One has to born with it, but I think it can be developed somewhat so I’ll work on improving those areas.

    I think as a society we still correlate money and status as superiority, not the true values of the person. Your podcasts have been very great in teaching about those values. I bought the 2 books you recommended and look forward to reading them.



  3. Hi Hannah,

    Mentoring is the most important part of a any services based firm: audit, law, consulting etc.

    1 – You need to check for this ONLY once you receive an offer. If you ask this during an interview it will not go down well.

    2 – I would have to say I was VERY good at this even when I was an analyst. I was very good friends with the office partner when I was just 23 years old. The senior partners and office manager would routinely stop by my desk to have a chat. It is not about inviting anyone for a drink. Just be available and talk to them. You will be surprised how many junior consultants are afraid of partners and put them on a pedestal. Treat them like they are normal. That is what is means to be part of the inner circle. We would talk about cars, sports and the latest phones. To be part pf the inner circle it means you are comfortable around each other. If you are not comfortable around a partner, no matter how many drinks you have together, you are not part of the inner circle. I also never judged partners when they got divorced etc. You just do not let those things become an issue. To sum this up, do not treat them like they are partners. A partner once took me to the most expensive restaurant in the city, and I ended up paying. Why? Because that is what friends do. And that sends the signal we are friends. I was an associate at the time.

    Most consultants try to show their intellect and are very polished around partners. You need to show you are comfortable with whom you are.

    Hope that helps.


  4. Hi Michael,

    This is a very valuable career advice. Thank you. (Though I was surprised to hear that mentoring would be so essential for consulting career).

    I have 2 questions:
    1. During the interview, you can tell if you have a good interaction with the partner, but how do you know if the person is willing to train you?

    It feels a bit presumptuous for me to ask in follow up meeting if they would do so. Since they don’t really know me yet and I haven’t really proven myself yet (except for during the interview), I don’t feel comfortable asking that. Should I ask other associates?

    Also, even if they say they will help, the dynamics of the relationship might change so nothing is certain.

    2. You mentioned that the inner circle consultants know how to develop relationships with the partner. I understand that this is a very crucial point, not only in consulting but in all professions.

    So the question is how do you do that exactly? I tend to work independently and let my work speak for myself (which is okay for research setting). And I don’t like bothering my mentor since he is busy and I try to solve issues by myself. But I know that others will talk to their mentors daily, invite their mentors out for drinks etc.

    So what are good things to do to develop the relationship without looking like a brown noser?

    I really appreciate your valuable insights as always, thank you Michael.



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