It’s the question of our time – how far is too far to go back on my consulting resume? We get questions literally Every. Single. Day about consulting resumes, and we’re happy to answer them (you can email us here!). But today, we’re here to answer one specific question: do undergrad clubs/experiences matter on your consulting resume? You may be surprised that the short answer is: yes. We’ve broken our answer into 3 segments (how McKinsey of us) since the answer will vary a bit depending on where you’re at in your career. So without further ado, here we go!
Experienced hires: You may be surprised to learn that in the management consulting industry, anyone with 2+ years of work experience is considered an experienced hire. We recognize that for consulting purposes, this is a large and varied pool. However, in general, your undergrad clubs and experiences can be an efficient way to show you are well-rounded and possess intellectual curiosity, especially if you have been in one industry (or academic field) for long. This is a great place to show additional leadership experience – any executive position you held in an organization will show you’ve always had drive and initiative. Were you nerdy and in the Math Club? Great! Just another way to reinforce your quant skills, especially if you’re aiming to transition from an industry not known as being quant-heavy. Did you raise $20K for a campus-wide initiative as part of Student Government? Fantastic! Firms will see you’ve always been a top-performer, instead of a flash-in-the-pan at your last role. Taking up just one line in the Education section of your resume, the ROI is well worth it. Tip: Be sure to include metrics wherever possible! How much money did you raise? How many people did you lead? What was the size of the budget you managed?
There are always exceptions to this: Unless you have 15+ years of professional experience, your resume must be 1-page only. Needing space for one more bullet point under your most relevant work experience? Or to highlight your achievements in an advanced professional degree program? Then you may be forced to cut this line. But if you have the room, keeping it can only help you.
MBA-level: If you’re currently wrapping up your 1st or 2nd year in an MBA program and entering the internship or full-time recruiting process, competition is tough! You want to make sure your resume is top-notch and consulting-worthy – as well as make sure that your resume not only helps you land an interview invite but also helps you during the interview. After all, the resume is a story highlighting your career path. The one question you’ll almost always be asked in an interview is “Walk me through your resume.” Sounds easy enough, right? You won’t believe how many clients we work with stumble through this answer in our mock interviews – if you can’t walk through your own story confidently, how will you make a recommendation with confidence to a CEO client? Structure your resume in a way that will help you answer the question in an organized way. You want your document to highlight certain strengths, leadership qualities, and hero stories – times you turned a negative situation into a positive one. Including your undergrad club or other experiences on your resume will help you show that you’ve been a leader in every environment you’ve been in and that you’ve been a “hero” in multiple different settings instead of a “one-hit wonder.”
Undergrad level: This one is a no-brainer! Of course, your experiences matter, because most likely they are the only ones you’ve got. You really want to emphasize your undergrad extracurricular work, since, with less relevant work experience, you have the space on your resume to do so. So go in-depth! Talk about a couple of the most impressive results you achieved as President of Student Government. Highlight the impact your pro-bono consulting project had on the bottom line of your local small business client. The name of the game is results. Most likely, these are the most relevant leadership roles you’ve ever held – so make sure you highlight the results you achieved, instead of simply the fact that you held a title. And if you didn’t hold an official leadership title, don’t worry! Highlight your volunteer work, and the impact it had in the organization you were involved with.
Tip: Be careful to distinguish between relevant and non-relevant leadership activities. While being captain of the soccer team is a great achievement and may have grown your leadership skills, this is not what firms are looking for. Be sure to call out experiences where the consultant scanning your resume can picture you in a professional setting.