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Resume: a comprehensive guide

Your resume is crucial. The importance of resumes is almost universally underestimated by consulting applicants. However, the numbers speak for themselves. Over 60% of applications will fail to make it past the initial screening phase. Their resumes will go in the bin, along with their chances of an MBB job.

As the factor responsible for filtering more than half of candidates, the reality is that your resume is the single most important element in setting you ahead of the competition. Worth your attention then, right?

You might well already have an up-to-date general resume from your previous career that you were thinking of just sending that off with a few cover letters for your consulting applications. This would be a big mistake - the demands on a consulting resume are very specific and mean that you must start afresh with a new document.

In this article, then, we will take you through our four step method for optimising your consulting resume. Start to finish, with around ten hours of work, our approach should allow you to send off a resume that will genuinely impress recruiters. If this seems like a lot of time for a single resume, you might want to weigh these hours against lost earnings from being rejected from a well-remunerated consulting job. However, you will also be able to re-use much of this resume in future in your career, so the time is also worthwhile on that count as well.

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Four Steps to Success

In summary, our four-step method for generating consulting resumes is as follows:

Diagram showing the different stages required to prepare a consulting resume to be sent with an application. The time required for each stage is also shown.
1. Understanding What Recruiters are Looking For - 30mins

You might be tempted to skip past this step, as you probably have a vague idea as to the kinds of skills which might be relevant to consulting. However, we will see that you need to be as specific as possible and it pays to have firm grasp of the precise skills and qualities recruiters are after so that your resume addresses them all and advertises each as clearly as possible.

2. Laying the Foundations - 2.5 hours

Rather than jump strait into writing the resume itself, you should first collect and elaborate all the data you are going to draw upon. This establishes a pool of points which you can draw upon to build the final document itself. This also makes it easier to put together various iterations of your resume later.

3. Synthesis: Drafting the Document - 2 hours

This is the most straightforward step of the four. You already have all the necessary points from Step 2, so all you have to do is follow standard guidelines and/or download our template (available in multiple formats at the bottom of this article) to put everything together.

4. Quality Control - 5 hours

Again, it is tempting to skimp on this step, but it is the most important of the four. You need to make sure that what you have written is actually recruiter-ready and is the best that it can be. Our detailed checklist is the best way to make initial revisions. However, getting decent feedback is crucial but might not be straightforward, so can introduce some variation in the time required for this step. You should iterate the process of feedback and modification until the resume is ready to submit.

With our help, then, you'll hopefully soon have secured an interview and be ready to turn your attention to the next steps of learning how to crack case studies and answer fit questions.
To get to that point, let's go through this four step method in greater detail:

Telescope looking into the sky, illustrating the specific qualities that consulting recruiters are looking for in resumes

Step One - Understanding What Recruiters are Looking For

Fundamentally, what determines the perfect resume is whatever the recruiter wants to see. Most consulting firms list similar sets of key qualities they want to see from candidates. Generally, something like the following set of skills will be required:

Graphic showing all of the consulting skills which your resume must demonstrate for you to be offered an interview
  • Analytical - have high cognitive capacity and an analytic mindset
  • Problem solving - able to apply your intellect to generate effective solutions to complex problems
  • Delivery of results - be able to put your ideas into action to generate positive outcomes
  • Leadership - have the ability to take the lead on projects
  • Entrepreneurial spirit - have a strong personal drive and be prepared to take individual initiative
  • Functional expertise - be familiar with the business world and understand how it works at a practical level
  • Teamwork - be able to manage relationships and work productively with others

You can find information about what McKinsey, Bain and BCG are looking for on those firms own websites. LEK has also made the following video about the skills required for consulting which reiterates what we have said here:

Getting Noticed - Signals

Now, the above skills are notionally what recruiters are looking for. However, a resume might be a record bursting these skills but still fail to get the candidate an interview. How could this be?

The simple reason is that resumes are scanned and not read. McKinsey, for instance, gets 200,000+ applications per year. Even the most diligent recruiters only have so much time, and so most resumes are reviewed and rejected within 30 seconds. To avoid your resume joining the others in the wastepaper basket , you need to help the recruiter out and signal your skills as clearly as possible. All other considerations are secondary, as if your skills are not immediately obvious from a quick glance down your resume, you will simply not get an interview.

So how do we go about doing this? We will spend the rest of this article breaking down the nuts and bolts of how to write a resume which properly signals your skills. However, at a higher level, a good resume must do all of the following:

Set of traffic lights illustrating the importance of signalling key skills in a consulting resume as well as our roadmap to write a perfect resume

1. Comply with Industry Standards

Whilst a "normal" resume is usually a fairly simple chronological record of your past roles and experiences, rather more is required of a consulting resume. Before we even consider how the content of a consulting resume needs to differ to that of a more "traditional" resume for another industry, we must understand the particular form that a consulting resume is expected to take.

At the most basic level, you need to stick very precisely to the standard, industry guidelines for writing a consulting resume. For instance, you should keep to one page, use a standard typeface, have four to five sections and omit any photographs. Resumes that stray from the accepted formula will be discarded as soon as they are glanced at - simple as!

We do give some tips on formatting later in this article. However, rather than exhaustively go through the minutiae, we find it easier to simply provide you a free template (at the end of this article) developed by our team of ex-MBB consultants so that you can forget about formatting and focus on great content!

2. Skill-Oriented

Of course, a consulting resume is not defined simply by some basic matters of formatting. Crucially, a consulting resume must demonstrate the skillset outlined above. This is your primary concern, as recruiters won't bring you to interview unless your resume has already made it clear that you have the capacities and qualities they are looking for.

3. Achievement-Focussed

How you go about demonstrating your skillset is crucial. Recruiters are not particularly interested in specific previous roles that you might have held. Unless you were an astronaut or a secret agent, a job title alone isn't going to impress anyone (and even if you were a secret agent, you couldn't put it on your resume anyway...).

Having had a job doesn't necessarily mean you actually had any particular skills. Just holding a certain role doesn't mean that you were good at it or that you got anything done - it is not hard to find ineffectual employees in any industry. As such, consulting firms are more interested in the achievements you made in a particular job. What you need to show is that you made a difference in whatever you did. These achievements should act as proof that you have one or more of the key skills above.

4. Appropriate Language

No, we don't mean to avoid swearing! (Though you should definitely avoid swearing...) Many candidates lose the recruiters' attention by stuffing their resume with technical jargon from whichever industry or academic field they are coming to consulting from. However, these candidates forget that their recruiter is unlikely to be from the same specific background and will simply not know - or care - what they are talking about.

Instead, language should always accessible to a generally educated lay person. For example, let's say you were describing an engineering project - you might write:

"Used unsteady Reynolds-Averaged Navier Stokes computational fluid dynamics to investigate the vortical fluid structures, which cause spike-type compressor stall in the high pressure axial compressors of industrial gas turbines."

Instead, it would be better to say something like:

"Used state-of-the-art computer simulations to investigate stall in gas turbines."

When you find yourself simplifying some technical point or other detail, you should also always ask yourself whether the information needs to be included at all. Remember that specific details are only really important insofar as they help signal relevant skills your recruiter is looking for. In general, if some detail isn't relevant to the consulting skillset, leave it out to make room for something else that is.

Beyond weeding out impenetrable jargon, you should also make sure that you write in as plain and "clean" a manner as possible. Some of the work to this end will inevitably be done during the "quality control" stage, as you tidy up what you have written. However, you should always be thinking about how best to express what you are trying to convey. Keep sentences short and to the point and avoid complex or archaic sentence structures. Don't use ten words where four will do and generally avoid writing in a way that would make someone have to double-take to understand what you meant.

For many readers, this will seem like common sense. However, we find that some candidates from quantitative backgrounds in particular can be a little rusty when it comes to writing in the very precise manner a resume requires.

Step Two - Laying the Foundations

Enough reading! Let's get down to business and get some writing done! The crucial thing to realise here, though, is that jumping straight into writing the final document itself won't yield great results. Instead, you first need to spend some time setting out all the relevant facts about yourself. These facts can then be mapped this onto the skills you need to demonstrate to the recruiter. Only after this work is done can you expect to produce the very best version of your resume.

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Our method starts by gathering relevant information, matching this to skills and demonstrating those skills via specific achievements. Your resume is then produced as a synthesis of the most salient of these pieces of information.

1. Collecting Your Data

You might imagine that resume writing is a "positive" business of "building up" the document itself. However, it is better thought of as a process of "winnowing" or narrowing down a pool of items which might be included, so as to select only the most useful.

First, then, we have to generate our pool of relevant information. To start, you should set out a document listing all the raw facts about yourself. This should include everything from the most basic items, such as your name and contact details, to your academic qualifications and past employment history. Remember also to list other relevant items, such as language and IT capabilities and your personal interests and activities outside work.

A note...

Make sure that you have gotten the details correct here. You would not believe how often we see candidates mis-spell their own email addresses! Imagine getting an interview offer for your dream, but never receiving it as it was dispatched to the wrong inbox! You don't want to miss out on a whole career due to a typo - check and double check!

2. Skills

Now that we have built our foundation of facts and experiences, it's time to match those to the skills recruiters are looking for. Note that overlap is possible (and indeed likely) in that the same items from your list of facts might be relevant to more than one skill. Drawing up a table like the example below will help with this process:

Skill Example of supporting evidence
Analytical
  • Creating models from data,
  • Solving particularly challenging problems in any scientific area
  • Analysing data to extrapolate conclusions
  • Programming skills
Problem solving
  • Experimental work in any scientific area
  • Solving a problem by identifying root causes and proactively addressing them
  • Finding an alternative and more efficient solution to a problem you previously encountered
Leadership
  • Leading teams
  • Having a position of responsibility in university clubs or societies
  • A position of responsibility in previous employment
  • Any evidence of managing people
  • Organising events
Teamwork
  • Playing any team sport
  • Team projects at university or at previous employment
  • Taking part in volunteering groups
Ability to deliver results
  • Evidence of completing a task with a quantifiable outcome
  • Designing and completing a demanding project with a tangible outcome, such as a website
  • Improving the efficiency of a process at previous employment or at university
  • Raising funds for a charity
  • Learning a language
Functional expertise
  • Collaborating with industry at university
  • Internship in a particular sector
  • Work experience in a sector
  • Evidence of skills in a specific sector
  • Working extensively in a specific area
  • Following the development of a particular industry
Entrepreneurial spirit
  • Starting your own business
  • Writing a successful blog
  • Proposing volunteering activities
  • Evidence of putting an idea into action
  • Finding a solution to a problem in a short time

Try to be balanced in your approach here. Each candidate will have their own strengths - however, you need to make sure you have points relevant to all of the relevant skills. What is more, you should give equal weighting to each skill. Thus, when you eventually write up your resume, you should be able to have an approximately equal number of points demonstrating each different skill.

Man standing on ledge of rock face he has climbed, illustrating the achievements which prove candidates have relevant skills in a consulting resume

3. Achievements

Skills are useless if not put into practice. Achievements show how you managed to leverage your skills to achieve impact - which is precisely what consulting is about. As we mentioned above, consulting recruiters are not impressed by job titles. Just because you held one job or another does not tell them very much about your abilities - what matters is what you actually got done. Achievements act as proof that you do indeed have the skills needed to thrive as a consultant.

With five steps, we can move from your relevant experiences to generate eye-catching achievements which will impress your interviewer:

3.1. What did you do?

You should have already listed all of the roles you have held across both you academic and professional careers (as well as voluntary or other roles). For each of these, then, you should now list the key your key responsibilities in each role. For example:

  • Summer Intern: Schedule meetings with investors,
  • Business Analyst: Created excel model forecasting demand,
  • Communication Intern: Helped directors in preparing presentations,
  • Customer Service Assistant: Responded to customer calls,
  • Treasurer Of University Society: Managed funds and introduced new sponsors.
3.2. What did you really do?

Now we need to dive a little deeper into what you did in these previous roles. We do this by enriching the description of responsibilities we have just given, adding specific details of actions you took. In particular, you should provide quantifications wherever possible - numbers are more precise and also stick in recruiters memories. The goal here is not to overwhelm or confuse the reader with a lot of unnecessary detail, but rather to demonstrate as precisely as possible what you actually did in each role you have held. Let's take some examples:

  • Scheduled and coordinated monthly meetings with three major investors,
  • Created analytical model forecasting demand with a 90% accuracy rate,
  • Helped two directors with market analysis in preparing client proposals,
  • Responded to over 50 customer complaint calls per day,
  • Managed £5k funds and introduced two new sponsors.
3.3. So what?

The next layer of detail we need to add is some information on the results of each of these actions. Reflect on the implications of what you did, always focussing on the difference you made versus the previous status quo. After all, the whole job of a management consultant is to make a positive difference to the companies they work with, so you can see why this information is interesting to a consulting recruiter!

Specifically, you should consider the impact you made in the following key areas:

  • Revenue - Did you increase the company’s revenues by contributing to the acquisition of new clients or by boosting revenues from existing ones? By how much?
  • Costs - Did you reduce costs? By how much?
  • Processes - Did you increase productivity or reduce downtime? By how much? How did the savings affect the bottom line?
  • Customers - Did you improve interactions with customers? In what capacity? What were the main results?
  • Client Meetings - Did you participate in client meetings? What contributions did you make to the team? What results did you bring?
  • Reports and Presentations - Did you create any important reports or presentations? Who was the intended audience? What results did they bring?
  • Recognition - Did you receive any awards, bonuses, or promotions?

Let's take a look at some examples of how we apply this to our descriptions:

  • Forging a stronger relationship with three major investor funds
  • Achieving a 30% reduction in working capital thanks to better accuracy in demand prediction, currently implemented
  • Three new projects sold worth £2m
  • Over 85% of customer concerns solved within three hours
  • Increased sponsor funding by 30% by introducing two new sponsorship contracts
3.4. Signal Skills through Achievements

Now you have a list of achievements, you are ready to map these onto the skills your resume needs to demonstrate.

Up until this point, the process could almost be applied to any job. However, the careful matching of achievements with the skillset specific to consulting is what tailors your resume to the job in question.

The table above where we matched up skills with previous activities is your starting point here. For instance, if you have already identified that data modelling is relevant to analytic skills. As such, you can demonstrate your analytic skills through an achievement you made in data modelling. Similarly, you might demonstrate your leadership skills by having organised a successful event for a university society.

3.5. Synthesising Your Achievements

There is an art to describing your achievements in way that clearly links them to the relevant skills and finding the right words is essential. To help you out, we include a comprehensive set of tables of relevant buzzwords below

Make sure that you don't exceed two to three lines for any one achievement and only include the best three to five achievements for each role you cover. The following examples show how to both draft your achievements and explain how they signal different skills:

Strengthened relationship with three major investment funds by organizing and coordinating monthly analyst meetings.
Communication skills (interacting with external stakeholders), organization skills (organizing meetings).
Developed analytical model forecasting demand with a 90% accuracy rate, leading to a 30% reduction in working capital. Pitched ideas to top management and launched multi-phase implementation plan.
Analytical skills (build analytical model), Orientation to results (reduction in working capital).
Supported two directors with market analysis to prepare persuasive client proposals, leading to acquisition of three new projects worth £2m
Analytical skills (market analysis), Communication skills (interacting with internal clients).
Enhanced customer satisfaction by solving over 90% of 50 daily customer complaints within 3 hours and interacting with over 12 departments in the organization.
Communication skills (interacting with clients and internal departments), Entrepreneurial approach (solution in 3 hours).
Increased society’s budget by 30% (from £3.5k to £4.6k) by negotiating and signing two new sponsorship agreements.
Communication skills (convincing external stakeholders), Entrepreneurial approach (negotiation and signing).
alarm bell ringing to illustrate a sub-section on buzzwords for consulting resumes
3.6. Buzzwords

Whilst you have probably been taught to avoid using buzzwords in your writing, the opposite is true in resume writing, where the correct buzzwords help you get your points across to your interviewer efficiently.

Let's take a look at groups of buzzwords roughly mapping onto the different consulting skill areas noted above. Whilst this might seem like a lot of material, simply browsing these tables whilst you write will make for a much more effective resume - both grabbing a recruiter's attention as they skim your resume and then sounding more professional as they then stop to read more closely.

We have also included an example of one off the buzzwords being used in a resume bullet point for each of the groups of buzzwords.

Communication skills

Buzzword in context: Presented to the CFO on a weekly basis concerning implementation of newly introduced budgeting policies

Communication skills buzzwords for consulting resumes
Leadership skills

Buzzword in context: Led a team of 20 in the roll out of a new IT system over a 3-year period

Leadership skills buzzwords for consulting resumes
Analytical skills

Buzzword in context: Built analytical model forecasting inventory needs with an 80% accuracy rate

Analytical skills buzzwords for consulting resumes
Problem Solving

Buzzword in context: Devised a new procurement strategy leading to a 10% saving on commodities purchased

Problem solving skills buzzwords for consulting resumes
Delivery of Results

Buzzword in context: Co-founded student support groups with 200 volunteers to provide help during flood

Deliver of results buzzwords for consulting resumes
Teamwork

Buzzword in context: Teamed up with 10 fellow students to raise funds for war widows

Teamwork buzzwords for consulting resumes
Functional Expertise and Research

Buzzword in context: Investigated correlation between foreign investment and level of corruption

Functional expertise and research buzzwords for consulting resumes
Typewriter keys, illustrating the process of writing up a consulting resume

Step 3 - Synthesis: Drafting the Document

Now that you have collected the information and synthesised it into usable achievements to demonstrate your skills, we are ready to embark on the business of actually putting together your resume itself. By the end, we are aiming to emerge with something like the below:

Example of a completed consulting resume

You will notice that we have highlighted the various sections of this example resume. To see how you can produce a similar document, we'll first take some general points on presentation before going through each of these different sections in sequence.

Layout and Formatting

First things first. As we mentioned near the start of this article, you need to strictly conform to the industry standard for your resume to even be skimmed rather than immediately discarded.

The only significant variation in style is between recent graduates and young professionals. If you have less than two years in the workplace, you should put your education first, whereas otherwise it will go after your work experience.

Our free template (see below) will keep you on the straight and narrow without having to worry too much, but here are some of the most important points as to formatting:

  • Keep to one page. You will often hear that this is not the case and that some offices allow for a two page resume. While this may be true, one page is always the safest option. Realistically, if you don't have 8+ years of experience you will not really need two pages.
  • Margins should be between 8mm and 16mm
  • Your name should be in bold, larger type, centred at the top of the page
  • Your email address and telephone number should be below your name
  • Headings for each section are in upper case, bold and underlined
  • More of a style consideration, but you should use of the rule of three - that is, three bullet points per section etc
  • No photograph. Again an occasionally controversial stipulation, and it is not a huge problem either way, but not including a photo is the safer option

This might seem like a lot to get right but, as mentioned, we have a free template below which takes care of all these formatting issues for you, saving you time and making sure you avoid any mistakes.

Personal information

This section should be as stripped back as possible and should only contain the three essential pieces of information needed to actually get in touch with you. These are:

  • Your name - in upper case in large type, so recruiters are more likely to remember it
  • An institutional or standard email address (name.surname/surname.name)
  • Your mobile phone number

In practice, this looks like the following:

Example of the Personal Information section in a consulting resume

As we noted above, you should check and re-check (and then maybe again!) that this information is correct! Candidates make a shocking number of mistakes in this section - perhaps as they assume they couldn't possible get their own email address or number wrong, but they do - we see it all the time!

Education

Up until now, education has probably been the major component of your life. However, you should avoid excessive focus on education in your resume.

Generally - and this goes for all sections, not just education - information should be included only insofar as it is relevant to demonstrating you have the skills required to work in consulting. For education, this means that you should include pre-university qualifications only if the employer asks for them or if they are very good.

As much as you should be selective as to what to include or elaborate on, though, you should never leave unexplained gaps in your education history. If you took a year out, acknowledge this and ideally note any activities that add value to your career.

The information which you must include in this section is as follows:

  • Institution, city (only if not included in the university name) and country.
  • Degree name (and qualification - UK). Include your qualification only if it's very good or outstanding (equivalent to 2:1 and higher).
  • Coursework (e.g. Managerial Economics, Game Theory, Corporate Finance).
  • Class rank / (GPA – US). Include class rank or GPA only if it's very good. If you think the recruiter will not understand your degree class, include an approximate percentile.
  • International exchange programmes.
  • Scholarships. Include awarded scholarships, without exceeding one line.

An example of a completed entry would be the following:

2012 - 2015
  • ESCP EUROPE, Paris, France
  • Msc International Management, First Class Honours
  • Coursework: Managerial Economics, Strategy, Incentives in organizations
  • Ranked among top 10% students, GPA of X.X/X
  • Awarded full merit scholarship for academic excellence

In our completed resume above, then, the education section looks like this:

Example of the Education section of a consulting resume

Work Experience

In this section, your goal is to show that you have developed both a general familiarity with how the business world functions in practice, as well as a set of specific skills which would be useful in consulting.

This section is built around two to five achievement-based bullet points where you outline your key achievements in a manner that demonstrates that you possess the desired skillset.

Don't worry if you don't have a lot to chose from here. Employers understand that if you have less than five years experience, you will probably not have been transforming major companies. The most relevant experiences they will be looking for will likely be around exposure to top level management or simply working independently.

As with your educational history, you cannot leave unexplained gaps in your employment history. If you are invited to interview, these will be noticed and you will be questioned on them. Also, as a final note, bear in mind that you can also add some of your experiences to your cover letter, so there is no need to cram absolutely everything into your resume.

The information to include for each entry on your employment history is as follows:

  • Job title, along with company name, city and country.
  • Dates. If your experience is relatively long (2+ years) use only years. If your experience is shorter or you have some relevant short internships, use abbreviated month and year dates (eg. Feb. 2005). Whichever choice you make, be consistent throughout the resume
  • Company description. Only include this if you think recruiters will not recognise the company you worked for.
  • Achievement-based bullet points. These bullet points should use your achievements to highlight the best mix of competencies required for the job you are applying to. Do not exceed five bullet points for every position you covered and two-three lines for each bullet point. In general, you should include more points for more recent jobs, unless previous jobs or internships are more relevant to the position you are applying to.

An entry, then, would look something like this:

2012 - 2015

McKinsey & Company, Berlin, Germany: Business Analyst Intern

  • Revised end-to-end value chain for the back office of a European Insurer. Identified 12 initiatives leading to €150m savings over 5 years. Pitched initiatives to top management and created multi-phase implementation plan.
  • Redesigned processes for a European insurer to improve the productivity of 2k claims handlers by 30%. Co-led a 15 strong client team to successfully implement on 200 employees.

In our example resume above, the employment section is as follows:

Example of the Work Experience section of a consulting resume

Leadership and Volunteering

Employers want well rounded candidates - perfect grades aren't enough to make someone a good consultant. Also, amongst the hundreds of resumes flowing over recruiter's desks, you need to stand out from the crowd in some way.

Leadership and volunteering can help on both these counts. However, space is limited (one page, remember!) and you should only include a section on leadership and volunteering if you have genuinely impressive items to include or if you need to offset a weak work experience section.

If you include a leadership and volunteering section, entries would look something like this:

2012 - 2015

ESCP Europe Entrepreneurship Society, Treasurer

  • Doubled budget for Conferences from £ 5k to £ 10k by securing 2 new sponsorships with emerging start-ups.

In our example resume, the leadership and volunteering section is as follows:

Example of the Leadership and Volunteering section of a consulting resume

A man swimming in a pool, illustrating the inclusion of personal interests and activities in a consulting resume

Additional Information

It is tempting to treat the additional information section merely as an afterthought. However, as with the optional section on leadership and volunteering, your additional information is a chance both to impress your interviewer and to set yourself apart from the crowd with some memorable information.

Again, as with any section on leadership and volunteering, additional information gives us the opportunity to provide evidence of any skills which you have not been able to clearly demonstrate in the other areas of your resume.

Crucially, though, 30% or more of your interview time is likely to be spent discussing the contents of this section. This is because the fit component of the interview will often tend to focus on experiences outside work and interviewers will question you on the items in your additional information section.

Ideally, then, when selecting information use here, one eye should always be on your fit interview. In this context, it would be sensible to read our article on fit interview techniques, so that you can use your additional information section to set yourself up to tell great personal impact stories.

To take an example, one of our clients included the following point in their additional information section:

EBay: raised more than 5k € in 9 months by selling recipe books and UK-imported goods in Spain

Subsequently, all of that client's interviewers asked them questions about that experience. This was a great result for our client, as they were well prepared to talk about it. Questions on your own experiences are always going to be more comfortable to answer then being asked to solve case studies etc. With a little attention to your resume and fit interview prep, you can make these stand-out moments for our interviewer - ultimately helping you land that job!

Okay, so we know that this section is important and that we are probably going to work the items within it into fit interview answers. However, we still need to say what kind of thing should we actually include in our additional information section.

Assuming that you have enough material to have some real choices to make, your concern for the additional information section will be to select items which demonstrate skills that have not been sufficiently communicated in the rest of your resume.

Things which might typically be mentioned include:

  • Standardized test scores, possibly with percentiles (e.g. GMAT score: 730, 96th percentile)
  • Volunteering activities
  • Sports achievements (e.g. Won Dutch rowing championship)
  • Awards that you did not include in the Education section
  • Positions in students societies / clubs / student councils (e.g. Elected student representative) if leadership and volunteering section is not present
  • Entrepreneurial activities not included in Business Experience
  • Interests and passions

There are also a few items which you should avoid including - either because they really belong in other sections or because recruiters will simply not be interested. Generally, these include:

  • Language certificates
  • High school grades
  • School competitions you won when very young (unless at national level)

As with the previous sections of the resume, you should be focussing on achievements rather than simply in terms of roles that you occupied.

In terms of format, your additional information should be composed of four to six bullet points, each one or two lines long. The following is a good example of how an additional information section might look:

  • GMAT score 730 (96th percentile)
  • Board member and fundraising chair for Kelston Area Big Brothers Big Sisters in Newark, New Jersey (2016-2017)
  • Planned and implemented the first annual city-wide Salt Lake City Marathon (2015-2018)
  • Interest in Chinese studies: organized a seminar on the impact of China on the imbalances leading to the 2008 financial crisis

In our completed resume above, the additional information looks like the following:

Example of the Additional Information section of a consulting resume

Language and IT Skills

This section is strictly limited to two lines - one for languages and one for IT. You can get this right very easily simply by following the basic rules. Let's see what these are for each of the two elements:

Languages

Your languages should be listed in order starting from your mother tongue, then English (if that isn't you mother tongue) and the language(s) spoken in the country where you are applying, with any other languages listed last.

For each language, you chose one level to describe your proficiency, ranging from Native to Fluent to Business and finally Basic. Don't substitute certificates or examination grades for these descriptive levels. Your recruiter only cares about whether you can be trusted to talk to a client or negotiate a contract in the relevant language. They are not interested in whichever certificate from an exam years ago you have framed in your living room - you might well have forgotten material since then anyway!

If you want to add details of certificates etc, do so in addition to these levels. For example, you might have:

Fluent English (First Certificate), Business French (Delf B1 Certificate)

IT Skills

Essential IT skills will include the Office package (Word, Excel and PowerPoint). If you are familiar with more advanced programs, mention them without going to too much detail. Resist the urge to show off by delving into your knowledge of sophisticated engineering programs - the HR manager reading your resume is more likely to have a background in psychology, and will not care if you are experienced in using tetrahedral elements in ABACUS.

In our completed resume above, the languages and IT skills section looks like this:

Example of the Languages and IT Skills section of a consulting resume

Step Four - Quality Control

By now, if you have gone through all of the above, by now you should have a complete resume, neatly formatted and ostensibly ready to go. However, don't rush to hit send - you're not finished yet! A full page does not mean you're done!

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Remember how crucial your resume is - how over half the cut of candidates is done on the basis of resumes alone. You are going to need to make sure you resume is the very best it can be. As such, before you submit your resume, you need to subject it to some serious quality control. This is a three step process:

1. Revision

First, you need to go through a checklist to make sure you have covered everything you need to without making any obvious mistakes. We can divide this checklist into three areas, dealing with Admin, Style and Content.

Admin
  • Proofread - Check that spelling in particular is 100% correct
  • Personal Details - Make sure these are 100% correct
Style
  • One Page - Your resume absolutely must be kept within a single printable page
  • Concise - Do not exceed two-three lines for any single bullet point
  • Consistent in Style - Use only one typeface and one type size - the only exception should be your name at the top
  • Aesthetically Pleasing - This is really a holistic consideration - when you look at the finished document it should make sense to the eye. One important consideration is not to resort to extremes of formatting to pack more onto your page. Margins should be no narrower than 13mm and type should be no smaller than 10pt.
Content
  • No Filler - Make sure that every single point on your resume links to one of the skills required for the job you are applying to. If the recruiter decided to pick a point at random, it should always convey something about a skill relevant to consulting. Content which does not do this should be revised or deleted.
  • Consistency Over Style - It might seem repetitive, but make sure that each of your bullet points starts with a verb in the past tense.
2. Get Feedback

Getting decent feedback is often the hardest part of the whole resume writing process This is because you can't actually do it for yourself! Instead, you need to find someone else who has the competence and time to tell you what you need to know. What is more, consulting resumes are highly industry specific, so you really need to find someone with a consulting background to get genuinely useful feedback.

This is a problem. As you will be aware, consultants work very long hours, so finding one with any time will be difficult. Also, realistically, one of the reasons there is so much competition for consulting jobs is because they are very well remunerated - in other words, consultants' time does not come cheap!

If you have access to one, a general career advisor will have some idea of what to look for. However, this is still no replacement for a real consultant.

Maybe you are lucky and have a close friend or a sibling in consulting. However, for everyone else without this advantage, we offer a three-round, in depth review of your resume by an ex-MBB consultant - who will work with you to make your resume the best it can be. This is strictly optional, but it is the best way to make sure your resume is absolutely watertight and give yourself the best possible chance of being asked to interview and thus landing a job. Find out more here.

3. Iteration

Once you receive feedback, you obviously need to take it on board and alter your resume accordingly. It's easy to get irrationally attached to what you have written, but - especially if you receive feedback from a real consultant - you need to be ready to swallow your pride and make substantial changes.

With this done, you should cycle back through the quality control points above - always making sure that what you end up with conforms to the check list above and getting feedback on the new, revised draft. Making your resume perfect will almost invariably require this kind of iteration. This is why our resume package includes three rounds of review, not just one.

Consulting Resume Template

To save you time on formatting etc, our team of ex-MBB consultants have made a resume template for you to start from. You can download this below, with separate versions for Word, PowerPoint and LaTeX.

Why only one template?

A lot of guides will try to tell you that your resume is a place to be individual and buck trends. However, this really couldn't be further from the truth - your resume is about being effective, not creative! A recruiter going through a stack of resumes and coming across one which does not follow the required format is simply going to be annoyed, not impressed.

In particular, a lot of companies have a commercial interest in convincing you the applicant that resume writing is a more complex process than it is, so they can sell them complex and expensive resume tools. Of course, there is some limited scope within which you can exercise personal choice. However, following our free template means that you can't go wrong in terms of formatting etc. As always, the proof is in the pudding - and our template has already been used by many candidates who went on to land MBB jobs!

Next Steps

Following this guide, making use of our template and ideally getting feedback from a real consultant should yield an optimal resume, ready to be sent off with the rest of your application.

Your immediate step after finishing your resume should be to draft your cover letter in order to complete that application. Just like resumes, cover letters for consulting jobs are beasts all of their own and need to be tackled very differently to the ones you might be used to from other industries. Luckily, we have you covered there too, with a guide just as comprehensive as this one. Even better, in following our method here for writing your resume, you will have already built much of the foundation for a great cover letter!

If you follow all our advice across both these guides, you should be able to submit the best possible version of your application - and should thus have every reason to expect to be invited to interview. With this being the case, you will need to start interview prep! You won't get far in a consulting interview simply walking in off the street, and the amount of preparation required is significant.

Certainly, your prep will be rather more involved than just writing a resume, so buckle up. Your first port of call should be our introductory articles on case and fit interviews, which will explain what you are up against and how to start getting ready.

If you are going to invest all this time, you will want to be sure you are spending it well. To make your prep as effective and time efficient as possible, MyConsultingCoach produces a comprehensive course to prepare you fully for both the case and fit components of the interview process. This will give you the best chance of impressing your interviewers and landing your dream MBB job!

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