Intro to Consulting Resume

Three reasons why your resume is crucial

REASON #1: 400 WORDS TO CONVINCE RECRUITERS

No matter how good your background is, a poorly written CV will not land you an interview. In such a competitive sector, every aspect of your CV needs to be impeccable.

REASON #2: 40% OF THE OUTCOME

Poor fit" is becoming one of the most common causes of rejecting candidates. In firms like McKinsey you'll spend about 40% of your interview talking about your past achievements, i.e. your resume.

REASON #3: 30 SECONDS DON'T ALLOW FOR MISTAKES

Your CV will be screened in about 30 seconds. Putting the right information in the right place is crucial if you are to have any chance of success. There is no second chance.

Is the consulting resume really different?

Yes. While the resume is usually seen as a standardised chronological record of your past roles and experiences, consulting resumes need to be detailed, specific, tailored accounts of the skills and achievements consulting firms look for.

Therefore, a consulting resume needs to be:

Skill-oriented

There are specific skills and sets of behaviours required to be successful as a consultant. Consulting recruiters carefully select the candidates whose achievements signal specific desirable skills.

Achievement-focused

Consulting recruiters are not passionate about roles. Unless you were an astronaut or a secret agent, you have limited chances of impressing a recruiter with your past positions. Consulting firms are looking for achievements. Each bullet point on your CV should show how you made a difference in your role, not the title you had on your business card.

Impress your recruiter

The resume section of our website, developed by top consultants and recruiters, is a no-nonsense, comprehensive, practical guide to writing effective résumés.

While there is a certain degree of subjectivity involved in this process, at a deeper level all recruiters scan résumés looking to find evidence of the common traits of successful consultants, such as personal impact, leadership or orientation towards achievement.

To make sure that your résumé lands you an interview, there are four essential points to consider.

Accessibility

One page

Recruiters get easily frustrated by lack of synthesis and will only read one page per résumé. It is vital for you to summarise your story on a single printable page. You can go over one page only if you have more than 8-10 years of work experience.

Standard format: four or five sections

The standard structure for a consulting résumé is shown below. The information you provide and its relative weight changes slightly according to whether you are a professional with at least 2 years work experience or a student. The main interest points are illustrated in our section on resume writing , together with and in detail explanation of the differences between résumés for graduates and professionals with at least two years’ experience.

  • Education: your degrees and relevant grades, brief description of subjects covered and scholarships/award,
  • Work experience: a 3 to 5 bullet point achievement-based description of your jobs/internships to date,
  • Leadership and Volunteering activities: your volunteering/extracurricular activities, such as leadership in student associations or activism,
  • Additional information: anything not included in previous paragraphs that could be of interest to employers, including prizes in sports competitions, standardized tests (GMAT, SAT),
  • Language and IT skills: your languages with level of fluency and the IT skills relevant for the job you are applying to.

Find out more about organising your resume in How to write an effective consulting resume.

Achievements, not roles

Recruiters are not passionate about roles. They are interested in finding out how you made a difference in your role, i.e. in your achievements. Each bullet point on your CV should clearly outline what you achieved in your past experiences, not the title on your business card. It takes multiple iterations and a lot of refining to nail the shift from roles to fact-based achievements, but the difference is striking, as shown by the following example:

Role oriented

“Organized monthly review meetings with CEO, set agenda and sent updates to top management”

Fact-based achievements oriented

“Streamlined intra-company communication flows by organizing weekly review meetings with the CEO, identifying key issues to be discussed and aligning all top management”

Even if content is the same, the rephrased version shows the way in which you brought change to the company, and thus transforms an executive assistant role such as “agenda setting” into highly appreciated prioritization skills such as “identifying key issues”.

Find out more about turning your roles into achievement in Build your achievements.

The right mix of competencies for the position

Competencies are the skills and the sets of behaviours required to be successful in the position you are applying for. Through publicly available information, such as websites, presentations, and networking, find out what specific competencies would make you shine in the position you are applying for. You will showcase your competencies in the list of achievement-based bullet points.

Some résumés outline competencies directly,

e.g. “showed analytical skills by creating a model for the tyre market forecast”.

Recruiters, however, prefer you to list the achievements using the right buzzwords,

e.g. “analysed trends in the tyre market and created a model which forecast demand for the next 5 years”.

There is no point in outlining what skills you displayed, as the reader will guess them if you use the right buzzwords.

Find out more about highlighting your competencies in Build your achievements.

We are generally looking for five attributes, which should be highlighted through the examples and supporting details you provide—these include a proven ability and achievement in these traits:

  • personal impact,
  • problem solving,
  • entrepreneurship,
  • leadership,
  • an overall orientation toward achievement.
— McKinsey and Company

Review, Rework, Repeat

Writing a résumé is an iterative process. Make sure you are not blinded by your own biases towards your résumé. Try to get as much external feedback as possible and keep refining your piece until you are satisfied. You can have your résumé reviewed for free by a top consultant at myconsultingcoach.com.

Résumé 2.0 - The digital era

While your resume is still the primary screening tool for consulting companies, employers are increasingly considering your online presence as a mean of assessing candidates. Your social profiles and how you engage with the online community are likely to be considered when you apply for a position. It is therefore important not only to prevent potentially reputation damaging situations but also to showcase your networking and social skills. Not having an online presence could potentially prevent you from having an interview.

Remember to set your privacy settings correctly in your social media accounts. Employers will find anything public and scrutinise it. Avoid posting inappropriate content, engaging in arguments or doing anything unprofessional.

To achieve a positive image, your online profiles should show that you have a wide range of interests, ideas, achievements and qualifications. It is also important to make your voice heard in the right networks. For instance, try to be active on posts concerning your industry. Constructive comments show your interest and spark feedback.