How pushy to be when applying for a job

So I want to apply to a consultancy. They’ve never heard of me but I’ve read about them.

Is it preferable to send them my resume by the mail and wait for them to get back to me or to show up at their offices in a suit to drop my resume and possibly meet someone?

Generally, how insistent should one be when applying for a job?

I’d mail in a resume and make sure you use buzz words specific to that consultancy and not just the industry as a whole. Obviously you want to apply for a specific job that is posted as well, because odds are that you will have your resume routed to HR who will need to file it somewhere. If you make them guess, it’s getting filed in the garbage. If you apply for a non-posted job description, it’s also going in the garbage. If you show up, you can drop off a resume, but other than saving you a stamp, I can all but guarantee you will not get to meet with someone. I’ve had people try to do that before and 100% of the time the receptionist turns them away.

As far as ‘pushiness’ goes, you can follow up with HR to ask about your resume in about a week, but don’t expect to get a call saying they received it and don’t expect an answer like “we’ll know if we want you by Thursday”. In fact, you will almost surely get voicemail and not a return call.

Be insistent. In fact, bring a weapon, in case the receptionist doesn’t let you pass, you’ll have something to convince her with.


You’ve researched this place, right? You have the names of some managers who work there, and you’ve figured out the manager whose interests are closest to yours? (If you’ve actually spoken to someone at a meeting or conference, even better.) Find the number or email for that manager, and call or email him or her, and say how much you admire this place, give some specific reasons why, given your elevator pitch about why you’d fit, and ask if you could send your resume to this specific person - or to someone else, if there is an opening.

A mailed in (or e-mailed) resume will join the hundreds of others. You may wander in at a time all the important people are gone, or busy. If you’ve established contact with a person, you’ll jump the queue. This level of aggressiveness is probably a job requirement, right?

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with showing up in person to hand in a resume. Before the Internet this probably happened more frequently than using the mail. If there’s a receptionist she probably won’t direct you to anyone else, but she will remember how you looked, acted, spoke, etc. and will pass that information along if asked.

ETA: Voyager has the best answer.

Bad sign. Follow up - that might be the personality test.

As a precision, I’m not looking for a long term job there. I’m going into business law (already finished the law degree, passing the bar soon) and I’d like to have some idea of what consulting is like.

Being paid would be nice but what I most want is some experience in a business consultancy so an intership would be ok.

Depends on how they operate, the more your approach is in line with their thinking the better your chances are.

What if they don’t use buzzwords? Is it probable that a business consultancy wouldn’t use them? Is it risky to say that I like the fact that I hardly saw one on their website and their articles?

Look, if you think the job is right for you, then they should at least interview you.

You’re not going to flip burgers. Tell them why you want the job and why you’re good at it.

That’s assuming they’ve got an actual vacancy posted.

I always got the impression you had to be in the biz for a while or be part of the structured recruiting process (usually for MBAs) they conduct on campus in the Fall.

I have to say I’m skeptical about sending in the resume because i-banking and consulting are two of the most highly sought after gigs for MBAs and have very structured recruiting. I practiced corporate law for 5 years and I still had to go back for another degree to make the transition (hampered by lack of quant undergrad). On campus it’s basically like a 5 month interview-I’ve already started the first round of contacting alumni etc. before the firms even come on campus and I was lucky enough to get into a number of invite-only summer conferences. It’s a very, very organized process.

But I don’t know…I mean, are you talking a smaller firm or some place like McKinsey? Do you have a business undergrad at least? Consulting has their own crazy interview format to boot.

Horrible advice, especially in this economy. More and more people are now doing the work of two people. They are two busy to bother with you.

More importantly you ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE anymore.

I recall in the 90s I would apply for a job and be the only one. I was an overnight manager in a hotel in 1995. I wanted to hire an night auditor. NO ONE APPLIED. I had to get one by calling up the other hotels and offering the auditor on duty more money, to change jobs.

Think about it.

A job open is going to have lots of applicants. All of the ones will be equal to you in skills and employment history. Is the H/R manager going to give it to the pushy one? No, because everyone knows that pushiness is going to carry over to the job itself.

I don’t want to hire a pushy person that is going to continue that pushiness to the job itself.

So, you’re looking for an internship? Is this in the United States?


anu-la1979 : The firm has 16 consultants. I don’t have a business degree, just a law degree with some management and economics courses.

Hmm, I have no idea then. To date I’ve only met the bigger American strategy firms and they generally target a couple of different degrees and have this very specific interview format.

Smaller organizations do tend to be more flexible about these things, though. I guess it couldn’t hurt to try.

Well, it sounds like a small shop. Chances are, if it’s like any of the small business consulting services firms I’ve seen, the article’s author’s email is somewhere on the page. Maybe you could use that as an opening?

But, if they have no advertised vacancies and you plan only working for them only temporarily, I doubt you’d get any kind of remuneration. So, you’ll likely want to let them know you’re inquiring about internship opportunities.

Here’s the translated version of what I wrote and sent a few hours ago to the email of the boss (his name is the name of the shop). It should be noted that the website highlights that their specialties are strategy, marketing, the management team and training:

I’m a finishing law student who intends to practice business law. I would like to join your firm as an intern.

I particularly liked that in your article “Strategic marketing: the key to the growth of your business” you highlighted that what’s most important is doing the right things, an opinion shared by Peter Drucker. Marketing allows one to find the right things to do and it is for this reason that your emphasis on marketing attracts me as much as strategy.

My interest in economics and management dates back to high school and my courses in management and law have shown me that I am skilled in diagnosing problems and proposing solutions. The search for efficiency in a system is part of my personality and of my strengths. Like you, I believe the emphasis should be put on the customer (marketing), the management team and strategy.

If you think I can be useful to you or a member of your team, I would be please to send you my resume and meet you.
Michael Emouse
(532) 524-1538

Consulting firms are relationship businesses, so you have to be pretty persistant. Showing up in a suit is creepy though. You want to figure out what skills you have to offer and then figure out who at that firm would be most interested in those skills (usually a partner or managing director). You can find out who that person is on LinkedIn or often on the firm’s web site.

You don’t drop off a resume right away. Try to set up a call to talk that person and use the opportunity to both find out what their needs are and sell them on your skills and abilities.

It may take many calls and follow up calls before you get through. People who work at consultancies tend to be busy and travel a lot.

"Dear Michael Emouse

Thank you for your interest in our firm. I think you will find that most people would share the opinion that it is better to do the right things than the wrong ones.

I am a little confused though about your career goals. You say you are interested in business law, however we are a marketing and strategy film. Also we really don’t advise clients on improving operational efficiency.

Quite frankly, I’m not really sure how you can be useful, not really knowing anything about you…"

and so on.

Not that it’s a bad letter, but as someone who has been a hiring manager in consulting firms, I see a bunch of these a month. To me it just says “standard intro letter”. Usually they consist of three parts:

  1. Your background

  2. An intro explaining how great my company’s reputation is. I know this already.

  3. What you want me to do for you. Mmmmm…really busy this week.

I find it much more compelling when someone contacts me to find out what I need. Something like this:

"Dear Mr Smith537

I am a law student looking to start my career in consulting. I have an interest in [whatever it is my group does] and was hoping to learn more about the kind of work you do and the skills and background you look for in potential intern candidates.

I’d like to give you a call later in the week to talk about this in more detail…"

Requires nothing from me. I don’t even have to look at your resume. BUT, when you call me in a few days I now vaguely remember you giving me a heads up. Basically what it will come down to is whether I like you on the call. And I’ll tell you either we are or are not currently hiring. If we are hiring, maybe I’ll take you out to lunch or coffee to meet you in person before starting the formal interview proceess.