scorecardMy McKinsey performance rating is ruining my job prospects months after leaving the firm
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My McKinsey performance rating is ruining my job prospects months after leaving the firm

Lakshmi Varanasi   

My McKinsey performance rating is ruining my job prospects months after leaving the firm
Careers2 min read
  • A former McKinsey consultant says the firm pushes employees out with contrived performance ratings.
  • He says the stigma of a low rating impacted his job search after leaving the firm.

This is an as-told-to conversation with a former associate at McKinsey & Company. They spoke on condition of anonymity due to privacy concerns. Business Insider has verified their identity and employment at McKinsey. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

I was an associate at McKinsey & Company for almost two years. During that time, it became clear to me that McKinsey hired too many consultants by overestimating the market. It was tough to get on projects, but I managed to get on four during my tenure.

I performed well in my first year and never received any negative feedback. I was told my performance was above the bar at my first review. My higher-ups supported my presence at the firm, and my clients were happy with the outcome of my work.

At my next review, six months later, things completely changed. I was put on "concerns," a rating McKinsey gives to consultants whose performance it deems unsatisfactory. I was told I'd have six months to improve or be put on track to leave.

The firm gave me vague reasons for my rating. I was told I wasn't taking "end-to-end ownership" of projects and implementing "top-down communication," which are hard to develop within a year of joining the firm.

I found it hard to keep up with the job. In previous years, if you had been put on "concerns," they'd try to find work to help you improve, but the firm explicitly said they would not help me. It was clear they just wanted people to leave. Just two months after I received the rating, I left and started looking for another job.

McKinsey's shadow followed me on my job search

My performance rating impacted my job search, too.

Third-party recruiting agencies asked me for my rating. I also contacted the McKinsey alumni network to find a job, and some asked me for my rating up front. The minute my interviewers found out I'd been a "low-performer," the dynamic of the interview process completely changed. They'd low-ball salary offers because they knew people like me needed a job, and we weren't just looking to upgrade from our current position.

My mental health also took a huge hit, and that was reflected in my interviews. McKinsey hires overachievers, so it's tough to project confidence when you're told you're a low performer. I couldn't leave my house for months and I kept agonizing over how to land my next job.

And since I wasn't able to get on many projects, I wasn't able to build my skill set. It was hard to justify to potential employers why I should be hired into a better position. At times, I worried that I'd have to take a step back and accept a lower title.

It took me almost five months to land another job. I'm happy with my new role even though I had to take a 20% pay cut. But my advice to McKinsey: Just do layoffs so your former employees don't need to explain themselves so much in interviews.

McKinsey & Company declined a request for comment from Business Insider.

Are you a consultant who's being haunted by a bad performance review? We would like to hear from you. Contact reporter Lakshmi Varanasi at lvaranasi@businessinsider.com.




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