Employer Branding – Are management consultancies now becoming Love Brands?

The #ConsultantForConsultants

Employer Branding – Are management consultancies now becoming Love Brands?

July 22, 2020

Susanne Mathony - Employer Branding

Despite the global pandemic McKinsey is planning to hire 850 new employees, BCG 800. Hence the #ConsultantForConsultants Susanne Mathony is wondering in her bi-weekly column for @Consulting.de:
Will top talents continue to knock down the doors of the big consulting firms? And how does employer branding need to look like after COVID19 in order to win this demanding target group?

It is impressive already! BCG Germany boss Matthias Tauber communicates that despite COVID19 he wants to hire 800 new colleagues this year – two thirds of them consultants. This would be more than ever before.

Industry leader McKinsey is also sticking to its plans. 850 new hires, including around 600 consultants, are to come on board in 2020, as announced by Cornelius Baur in the Handelblatt.

Bain & Company is looking for 250 new employees with a focus on digital transformation and new forms of leadership.

While numerous companies are struggling to survive, one industry is obviously flourishing – that of management consulting. The current business climate index of the BDU bears witness to this. It attests: Consulting firms are in a much better mood than in previous months.

Now one could think:
Recruiting – and thus employer branding – has never been easier than now. After all, there are hiring freezes or job cuts in many industrie. Hence there should tons of young, “willing” applicants.

In addition, according to BDU, around two thirds of consulting firms are convinced that remote projects with clients will increase strongly or very strongly. Where some applicants previously shied away from the massive travel burden of consulting, the #nextnormal home office is now attracting them.
During the lockdown, virtual project work has proven its worth. The Tumi cases stay at home. MS Teams instead of Miles & More. Walter Sinn, head of Bain in Germany, expects “an enormous learning curve”. In his byliner “Rules, tools and fools“, he estimates that 30 to 50% of the travel volume could become superfluous.

So, at first glance, this is great news: Many job openings and a better work-life balance. In theory, the trend could continue. Pre-COVID19, more than 700,000 students worldwide did apply for an internship or a full-time position in a consulting firm every year. Since the offer quotas are well below 10%, more and more specialists like PrepLounge are springing up out of the ground. They provide comprehensive preparation for interview sessions and assessments by top-tier consultants.

Is the calculation working out? Are top talent consultancies still knocking down the doors?

Partly, I suppose, but not in a big way.

If you take a look at the employer ranking 2020, for which Universum surveyed 47,000 students of various disciplines every year, consultants and auditors may have potential for optimization in personnel marketing.
Nine percent of the business students named McKinsey as their ideal employer. In the ranking, this puts the company in tenth place. BCG takes 20th place.

The Big Four all fall behind: Pw by six places to 17th place or Deloitte by five places to 28th place.

Also interesting:

In Talkwater’s global “Brand Love Story 2020” ranking, consultants are completely absent from the 800 Love Brands analysed. In Germany Mercedes and Nivea lead the ranking; globally Lego, Four Seasons Hotels and Singapore Airlines.

Customers pay high prices for Love Brands, make unpaid advertising in their peer groups and share their enthusiasm in the social media. The high loyalty of their community makes Love Brands significantly more crisis resistant.

To put it pointedly:
For many new joiners consulting is not a passion – and therefore not a Love Brand – but primarily the springboard to a subsequent corporate career.

Knowing all this, now the question:

How can you still make convincing employer branding?
How do you prove yourself as an employer brand?
Which relevant content do you use with emotional power to differentiate yourself from the competition?

In addition to quite classic marketing tools such as recruiting fairs, career events, PR and the focus on purpose – the communication of meaning – I see exciting things in the social media and digital sector, especially under the restrictions of COVID19, but also thereafter.

The magic five bullets for Professional Services Players

1. Unique employee value proposition

Everyone thinks they have it – the coveted USP!
However, the war for talent in particular proves whether you really differentiate yourself. Because young talents want employers with a profile. As Matthias Storath (HEIMAT) cynically formulated in the context of the new BCG campaign:
Employer branding is normally a brand shredder. Companies are never more interchangeable, never more insecure than when they communicate with potential employees“.

Others criticize the ‘ego-shooting’, i.e. that consultancies make too many company-centered statements circling around themselves, instead of providing applicant-centered information with added value. The close cooperation of HR with marketing and corporate communications is helpful in this respect.

2. Social Media Buzz

Social media is a two-way street – especially with regards to employer branding. Social Listening is used to identify the trend topics that really drive top talents and to develop specific campaign content for the various platforms. In the past, classic consultant portraits in “junior:consult” were state-of-the-art.
Today they are virtual dinners with the CEO via zoom or podcasts.

3. Share the Love

Even if Professional Services Players are not too much into it YET. BUT: modern storytelling is more convincing than industry-driven studies that might seem interchangeable. Positive, emotional stories – or ’employer telling’ – help applicants to associate the consulting brand with it.
Project and teamwork can be well presented in videos, for example, which can be pushed via websites or LinkedIn.

4. Employees are influencer

“Brand Love” grows from within; that is, consultants should deploy their teams widely to create a strong brand bond. In the talent market, micro instead of macro culture counts more; i.e. showing true team culture creates proximity and thus reach.
Also important:
Realistic evaluations on platforms such as kununu and Glassdoor and what consultants and ex-consultants write about their own consultancy.

5. Authenticity

And no, authenticity is not an empty phrase! To position yourself authentically as a concise employer brand convinces talents. Anyone who uses the same generic phrases in recruiting ads and on websites should not be surprised that the majority of applicants apply painlessly and in parallel to the top 5, instead of targeting their ’employer of choice’.

Instagram for Professional Services: Picture by picture turning into a Love Brand

As the aforementioned social media buzz is so crucial, the professional LinkedIn presence is the obligatory program for consultants.
The extra-mile – and this with a lot of catching up to do – is in the platforms that generation Y and Z prefer, be it Instagram, Snapchat or Tiktok (the latter two still to be seen in the business context).

On INSTA there are now 25 million brands present worldwide. It is by far not only relevant for lifestyle brands, but also consultancies. They can clearly benefit from the visual channel in terms of branding and employer branding.

McKinsey has recognized this. The firm already shows 184,000 followers and 1,127 posts. The focus is on team shots or profiles of individual consultants.

BCG has only been in the INSTA business since January 2019.
It has developed a consistent image and brand language. Whether the aphorisms of the initial phase or the classic BCG green charts suit everyone’s taste is open to question, but they work.
After all, the strategy consultancy already has around 93,000 followers here – and that for only 149 entries, which generate 1,000 likes and more.


Consultancies that want to become a true love brand invest in their employer standing and branding – especially in the social media. They know about the relevance of the Candidate Experience for the employer reputation and most importantly:
They know exactly who they are!

Because only those who know who they are can tell others about them. And only then can you win the right candidates with the right ‘cultural fit’.

view Consulting.de article (in German)