Your resume, simply put, is the platform through which your story is told.
Based on our years of experience editing consulting resumes, we’ve identified the 5 universal qualities of a winning management consulting resume. These qualities will help a reviewer see how you can significantly add value to their team and firm.
When writing your resume, remember one thing: to look through the eyes of a management consultant.
We’re sure you have put many hours into writing your resume and are personally attached to your beautifully crafted document. However, a consultant won’t be nearly as attached to your resume as you are. In fact, consultants/recruiters might only give 30 seconds of their precious time to look over it, and that’s being generous. Because of that, remember to consider their viewpoint when reviewing your own resume.
This list below is compiled with a consultant’s viewpoint at the forefront. Ready? Here we go!
5 Universal Qualities of a Winning Management Consulting Resume:
1. Make Your Resume Appealing
Let’s face it, when looking for new recruits, there are few things consultants throw away quicker than a poorly formatted resume. Poor formatting can (and most often will) quickly disqualify you as a candidate. Here are some things to avoid:
- A resume more than 1 page long – Unless you are a PhD or have 10+ years of experience, your resume should only be 1 page long. If you’re an undergraduate, this is a rule – no exceptions! A resume longer than 1 page demonstrates that you don’t know how to take your most relevant details and effectively summarize them into high impact delivery.
- Inconsistency – Consultants make presentations to Fortune 500 CEOs and other key leaders, showing them how to reallocate millions of dollars; they will notice the formatting of your resume. If your resume contains more than one type of font, varied indentions, abnormally narrow margins, etc. – it will communicate carelessness to your reviewer. Not exactly the impression you’re looking for.
- Tiny font – Consultants want to be able to read (AKA scan) your resume comfortably. Thus, 11 point font is ideal, with 10 point font being an absolute minimum. Anything smaller than that will look like you are trying to cram as much information as you can into one page – evidence that you don’t know how to pick your most relevant experiences and tell a clear story.
- All black – A resume that is completely filled up and contains no white space separating different sections is a headache to read. If your page isn’t nicely separated into sections with key areas of white space, it probably won’t get read.
There are few things that consultants love more than a beautifully crafted resume. A resume with good looks is 1 page long, has consistent formatting, size 10-12 point font, and white space that divides key sections of the resume.
2. Focus On Results With Consulting Resumes
Consulting resumes must be results-oriented, just like consultants are. When reviewing your resume, your reviewer won’t be as interested in what you say you did, but in what the data reveals you did. In your work/experience section, instead of stating:Led sales force of 15 on nationwide promotional campaign.
Share the results of your hard work like this:Led sales force of 15 on nationwide promotional campaign resulting in a 20% increase in company-wide quarterly sales.
Or in your leadership section, instead of stating:Founded consulting club at XYZ University.
Word it like this:Founded consulting club at XYZ University; grew club from 3 weekly members to 75.
The reader of your resume doesn’t want to just see that you have done a certain number of activities; they want to see that what you’ve done has had amazing results. So when writing your resume, make sure it communicates the results you’ve obtained, not just your job responsibilities.
3. Numbers, Numbers, Numbers
Consultants are drawn to numbers. Numbers paired with results make resumes come alive, and are one of the things you can change that will make the biggest difference on your resume. Consider this sentence below for example:With team of analysts, covered major oil and gas deals.
There’s nothing wrong with this sentence per se, but you won’t find a sentence like this anywhere on a winning resume. It’s not quantifiable and doesn’t stand out in any way to the reader. Compare that sentence to this one:With team of 3 analysts, covered 8 major oil and gas deals worth a total of $18B.
This sentence is so much better; it’s quantifiable and creates a picture that the reader can easily visualize and understand. Note that winning resumes express all numbers, even those below 10, as digits (1, 500, 3000) instead of words (ex: one, five hundred, three thousand).
When quickly scanning our sentence, the “3”, the “8”, and the “18” jump out beautifully compared to the other examples. The reader, when scanning your document, will quickly be able to see that you have had quantifiable impact in your previous positions . If you want a winning resume, be sure to express specific numbers!
One more thing: if the numbers on your resume are in the million and billion range, instead of filling the line with six to ten zeroes (ex: $8,000,000,000), it is preferable to simply write $8B, $500M, or $0.95M.
4. Include Personal Interests & Hobbies
You know what we’re talking about: those resumes that look like a robot wrote them. We’ve all read them, and maybe even written them as well (gasp).
There’s nothing in “robot resumes” that specifically makes the applicant stand out as an individual. News flash: consultants aren’t interested in hiring boring robots! They want to hire someone who is interesting and fun to be around. After all, the person they hire is a person they will almost definitely have to work with.
We’re not saying that you should crack jokes or do something quirky on your resume. Instead, be sure to include a line in your resume on your personal interests/hobbies, the languages you speak, etc. Some of the biggest feedback we get from professionals is that their favorite part of reading a resume is reading the personal interests section. In fact, your personal interests section is many times the only section that a consultant will read all the way through when scanning your resume. When writing this section, keep it sensible and be specific.
Instead of writing:
Interests: Travel. Hiking. Cooking.
Try something like this:
Interests: Backpacking across Europe. Hiking Colorado Rockies. Amateur Thai chef.
5. Inspire Others With Your Successes
As mentioned earlier, a resume is your story. You want it to communicate your greatest professional successes in a clear, concise, and compelling fashion. The resume needs to start somewhere and point in a certain direction with a unified theme. When compiling your resume, please don’t just throw in a bunch of random facts. Instead, carefully consider the direction that your resume is pointing.
For example, say you are applying for a company that consistently hires people who are entrepreneurial, and you decide that you want your resume to show the company how entrepreneurial you really are. As you are brainstorming about what to write on your resume, the question in your head should be:
“How can I structure this in such a way that the reader remembers me as entrepreneurial?”
You might decide to start your resume off stating that you graduated from MIT in the top 10% of your class, received XYZ awards, and then later showing how you co-founded a tech company while at MIT. Instead of throwing in random facts about yourself, determine whether these facts will best demonstrate your entrepreneurial and genius side.
In the same vein, if a company is looking to hire someone that demonstrates amazing analytical abilities, highlight the parts of your life that demonstrate likewise talent.
By choosing a theme for your resume and not having random (although we’re sure impressive) facts, you show a prospective firm that you know how to effectively summarize and highlight what is important, an essential tool for any consultant.
Put it all together!
A resume that has beautiful formatting and good looks, is results oriented, has a significant amount of numbers (at least one in each line of work experience!), is human, and tells a well crafted story, is a resume that is well on its way to becoming a winning management consulting resume.