High starting salaries and early responsibility are just some of the perks of business management and consultancy jobs. Discover what it's like to work in the sector…
What areas of business can I work in?
According to the House of Commons Library, Business Statistics Briefing Paper, July 2020 there were more than 5.9 million private sector businesses in the UK in 2019.
Employment opportunities in this sector can generally be split into two main areas: business management and consultancy.
You don't need to restrict yourself solely to the business sector as the majority of organisations require managers and consultants in order to operate effectively. Because of this, graduates have plenty of job opportunities to choose from.
Business managers usually work general management jobs or hold specific responsibilities for a particular area of an organisation, such as marketing, strategy planning, human resources (HR) or information technology (IT). Some roles lean towards people management, while others focus on project management - but most managers need skills in both areas.
Meanwhile, consultants offer advice to organisations to help them solve problems and enhance performance. They either work in large companies or consultancy firms. Organisations can be general, specialise in strategy or offer advice to a specific industry, such as:
Work in this area is highly competitive, with firms looking for bright, high achievers. However, you may find it useful to first move into a role where you can build up business knowledge and maturity before heading into consultancy.
Alternatively, consider other business jobs that offer specialist information, advice and support to companies, such as data mining or market research, or specific roles such as business adviser, economist, risk manager and operational researcher.
For examples of what's on offer, see business, management and consulting jobs.
When researching potential areas of work it's likely that they overlap with the accountancy, banking and finance sector. Professionals from both sectors work together to ensure the best outcome for the client and the lines between the two industries can sometimes become blurred.
Who are the main graduate employers?
The majority of large companies across all sectors offer business management jobs to graduates.
In this capacity you can work within the public sector, for employers such as the Civil Service, the National Health Service (NHS), which recruits candidates for its Graduate Management Training Scheme, and local government, which operates the National Graduate Development Programme.
When it comes to consultancy, large companies, particularly those in the financial sector, offer a variety of opportunities. The 'big four' accountancy firms - Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC - are among some of the most well-known organisations offering graduate consultancy roles.
Accenture, McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Company, PA Consulting Group and Capgemini are also top-rated consultancy organisations.
Other notable consultancies include:
- FTI Consulting
- Hymans Robertson
- Oliver Wyman
- Roland Berger.
Consultants can be found in other sectors too, including healthcare, retail, and energy and utilities. However, these roles are often for those with expertise and experience in the specific industry, rather than entry-level graduates.
While large organisations in the sector often offer impressive graduate packages, over 99% of businesses in the UK are small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), so it's worth sending a speculative application to discover what these companies can provide when searching for work.
Find out more about working in a small business.
What's it like working in the sector?
Graduates entering consultancy or business management jobs can expect:
- jobs to be available in a number of locations across the UK, with the majority of work centred in cities such as Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds and London
- tough targets and tight deadlines
- a varied working life that involves a substantial amount of travel, with time spent at client sites and periods away from home
- high starting salaries, typically between £20,000 and £35,000 excluding bonuses - rising quickly to around £50,000
- to work in a high-pressured environment, where quick decision making and confidence in your abilities is essential
- long working hours with a focus on meeting deadlines and completing projects
- an immediate high level of responsibility and opportunities for rapid career progression
- self-employment or freelance work to be an option within several years.
To discover what to expect from specific roles, browse business, consulting and management job profiles.
What are the key issues in the business sector?
COVID-19 has impacted all industries and with the furlough scheme set to come to an end unemployment figures are expected to rise and a recent survey, Managers Voice June 2020, conducted by the Chartered Institute of Management (CMI) revealed that 34% of managers are set to lay off staff, with 26% expecting to do so this year.
The survey also found that a third of managers expect redundancies in their own organisations by at least the end of 2021. Just under half were expecting less than 50 redundancies, just under a quarter 51 to 500, while 6% expected more than 500.
The CMI survey discovered that managers had mixed opinions about when their organisations would get back to their pre-COVID operations - the majority (30%) believed this would not be until 2021.
When considering how to level up businesses post-COVID-19 three out of five managers said that better skills in management, leadership and digital would help boost organisations’ productivity.
Find out more
- Learn more about the business, consulting and management sector.