How Geography Affects Where Elite Consulting Firms Recruit

For better or (mostly) worse, top consultancies tend to recruit primarily from top schools, but the data seems to suggest likelihood of selection goes even deeper. JM Olejarz shares pending data for Harvard Business Review about regional rankings and other geographic factors. Here is what the added dimensionality might mean.

What the Map Reveals

Research at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute “looked at on-campus recruiting data for 39 prestigious finance and consulting firms at 350 universities,” and this is where the significance of regional ranking was discovered. Basically, in a place like the Northeast that is crammed with highly selective elite schools, students will be picked out leisurely by various firms. However, in a region where there is generally only one highly selective elite school, like with Texas A&M, all of the top-performing students are likely to be found there. As such, all of the big consultancies are likely to flock there for recruiting purposes. This in effect means that going to Texas A&M (or an isolated regional equivalent) can be as valuable to your career as going to Yale.

Recruiters are not just a bunch of lazy people who do not feel like investigating other schools though. This is the actual reality:

Recruiting is really, really expensive. The study reports that a firm’s screening costs per hire can range from $6,900–$29,000, depending on the school, and can approach mind-boggling amounts for MBA students — as much as $100,000 per hire. Lower-ranked schools may well have great students, but finding them is so expensive that most firms won’t bother. That’s why firms prioritize recruiting at places like Texas A&M, which are more likely to have a high percentage of the top students in the region.

Since large consultancies are likely to hire students to work in the branch that is specific to their region (e.g., hiring a graduate from the Northwest to work in a Northwestern office branch), students should stay open-minded about where they end up employed.

For even more insights, you can view the original article here: https://hbr.org/2016/07/how-geography-affects-where-elite-consulting-firms-recruit

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