According to Syntec Conseil, the average seniority in the profession does not exceed five to six years and the average turnover rate in firms is 15%. How to explain such a turnover of staff and why so few juniors seriously consider a career in consulting? Is it always a well-considered choice? Who could seriously ask themselves the question of a career in consulting and how to succeed in this career? Here are our convictions following hundreds of meetings with consultants.
Why is consulting often seen only as a springboard?
The advantages of consulting are numerous and this is the reason why many young graduates opt for a consulting firm at the start of their career. They are attracted by rapid development prospects, the possibility of being exposed to C-levels (CEO, CFO, CIO, COO, CTO, etc.), the intellectual stimulation of this ecosystem, the diversity of missions, attractive pay…
And yet few project themselves into a career in the profession. For what? Often because consulting is seen for a young graduate above all as a springboard because of the following considerations:
The diversity of the missions will allow him to form a more assertive opinion on the right job/sector/work environment for him.
The council allows multiple outlets and to be identified as a high potential
It is an initiatory airlock where we are well trained which allows us to extend our knowledge of the economic world and the realities of business.
In a way, consulting allows you to start your career in very good conditions while delaying your real choice of profession, which will then be made.
In our view, this intellectual conditioning can play tricks on consultants in the pursuit of their careers. Indeed, we come across a number of experienced consultants who simply ignore the possibility of continuing in consulting when they seem to us to be made for this profession.
Why do many leave the profession so quickly?
Beyond this prejudice, a combination of very specific factors can encourage people to leave the board quickly:
The demands of the job which obliges you to accept a relatively high level of work and pressure. And of course the current up or out (mainly in strategy consulting) which puts pressure on the least efficient employees.
A very hierarchical organization of work fully assumed that does not correspond to everyone. Even if liberated business models are developing in consulting, the existence of a clear pyramid within organizations will discourage those who wish to be autonomous quickly.
The permanent fluctuation of its work partners: teams often change in consulting and when things go wrong with a superior on a mission, we then quickly consider moving on to something else because consultants generally refuse to be in a position to failure or being less well regarded internally in environments that are very elite.
Moreover, we note that many consultants endure very difficult times when they become managers. The rank of middle manager is often tricky regardless of the job or industry in which you operate because you experience strong operational pressure when you also have to supervise a team for the first time. In consulting, this difficulty is often accentuated by the lack of managerial training or by the discomfort generated by the permanent rotation of its work partners.
Other reasons for leaving the board seem more questionable to us, however:
Many consultants feel that you should leave the consulting relatively early because it is difficult to leave after the rank of manager. However, this difficulty in finding the next job is a reality that goes beyond the world of consulting, beyond a certain level of salary and experience. This relative lack of opportunities is not attributable to the refusal of companies to hire experienced consultants but rather to the scarcity of interesting opportunities once the status of young person with high potential has passed.
Many consultants also aspire to do a more operational job, with more impact, where delivery is not just a game of slides. It is important to remember that in business, the dilution of responsibilities, certain bureaucratic delays or even the fact of quickly relying on a team can also give rise to the feeling of a lack of personal impact or control over what one produces even though one occupies a position of high rank.