There is a lot that we cannot learn about a candidate by reading their resume, but one important prerequisite for many jobs that cannot be gleaned from a CV is emotional quotient (EQ). It is rare that a hiring manager does not mention EQ when discussing the key attributes they are looking for in a potential employee, and it is almost always on the shortlist of “must haves”.
Unlike conversion rates, sales metrics, safety ratings, and other quantifiable metrics, EQ is difficult to spot on a resume. But being self-aware, motivated, and possessing the ability to build relationships is vita, and becomes more important the higher up the org chart you go. These are the things we are looking for when a hiring manager says they want someone with high EQ.
To give ourselves the best chances of finding a high number of qualified candidates with high EQs, ECA often turns to top-tier consulting firms like McKinsey, Bain, and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) first.
Consulting Firms Have Done the Vetting
The application process for top consulting firms is rigorous and they attract candidates from top universities. This means that by the time their resume crosses an Executive Recruiter’s desk, top-notch institutions that care about EQ have already signed off on the candidate.
This does not mean that they are guaranteed to hit an EQ standard, but when you want to hire top talent quickly, looking to consultants first will be an efficient use of time and resources.
Exposure to Executives Early in their Career
Consultants are placed in meetings with company executives, client stakeholders, partners, and board members early in their career, so it is a good bet they are comfortable in highly visible roles and in situations where they need to think on their feet.
Well-structured interview processes can test how well candidates react in stressful situations, but it is difficult to replicate an investor or a senior boss asking tough questions. If you want assurances that your employees can handle high-pressure situations, looking to consultants is a good bet.
Ability to Manage Diverse Teams
Consulting firms have various specialties. If you need a high-caliber finance leader, you might look for someone trained at a “Big 4” accounting firm. If you need a polished strategist, you start with McKinsey, Bain, or BCG. If you are looking for someone familiar with due diligence, L.E.K. and EY Parthenon are great places to begin.
But the nature of consulting makes it the case that no matter their specialization, consultants from top firms will have worked on several different teams, in different industries, and often in different countries within their first few years at the firm.
They have likely learned to adapt to working with different cultures, leaders, and subordinates with different priorities, and with ambiguous problems. This experience makes consultants well able to adapt to new working conditions and lead diverse and varied teams.
Steven Haug, Ph.D. is a Project Manager at ECA Partners.