Massive competition exists for entry level consulting jobs. Finding a consulting position at the beginning of a career requires much more than applying to every job posting you can find online. Due to the sheer number of job seekers out there today, employers are not only highly selective in their recruitment, but they often want a very specific skill set for their consultants. While a degree in one hand and a willingness to learn in the other might have scored a job applicant an interview in the past, such simple offerings just don’t cut it today.

There are a few vital boxes to check that will increase your chances of landing an entry level consulting job. Although an employer won’t expect much experience from an entry-level applicant, it’s critical that a job seeker has the following:

1. The Skills Needed

Every entry level job today requires basic skills like knowledge of computer programs, but a consultant also needs a number of additional interpersonal skills that may be hard to express through a resume. Interacting with clients tactfully and communicating in a respectful manner are essential consulting skills. You have to make clients happy, and many times it is appealing to their emotional side by emphasizing your value. It’s sometimes hard to quantify consultant’s results, but if you can communicate them anyway, you will help retain clients, become valuable to your company, and become valuable to your clients.

In addition to proficiency in communication with clients, it’s also essential to highlight other communication skills such as grammatically correct writing and composition skills. You don’t want to look like a goof by not having proper English. Clients expect the best from you and hold you to higher standards.

Advanced communication, demonstration, and presentation skills are much more significant to a consultant than knowing how to use Excel and Word.

2. The Education Needed

As with many jobs that offer potential for advancement and higher income, consulting jobs do require advanced education. Possessing an undergraduate degree is a minimum, but clients prefer that their consultants have advanced degrees. Since clients want it, companies hiring consultants want it. (They also prefer a well-established, not for-profit colleges.)

Applicants with a master’s degree will do even better. In addition, a good GPA also helps the application process and increases your chances of landing an interview. Remember that these jobs are entry level, so there’s not much else to compare candidates with.

3. The Experience Needed

The whole idea of an entry level job is that much experience isn’t required and that an applicant might be at the very start of his or her professional career. Inside today’s cut-throat job market, however, having zero work experience makes it difficult to land an interview. Employers want to know that you can adapt to a workplace.

One thing to remember about consulting jobs is that even the jobs labeled as “entry level” at the major consulting firms aren’t actually the sort that caters to college graduates who still have not worked in the real world or done any internships.

Occasionally it is possible to obtain an entry level consulting job directly after graduating from college, but such employment often requires a hefty recommendation, an Ivy League education, or a prior connection in the industry.

This is why it’s exceptionally valuable to do an internship during your college career (or two-three) and network during school and after graduation. With so many applicants for each job opening, candidates who have some prior experience and are referred stand a better chance of landing an interview and eventually the job.

Visiting the websites of each consulting company should also offer some clues on whether positions are available. Though every job isn’t listed on a company’s website, you can find the unadvertised positions by utilizing JobUnlocker. Check out our article on how to get a job with no experience here.