The McKinsey resume is the first major hurdle you have to cross if you want to get hired at McKinsey and Company. It is the first major evaluation the company will subject you to in your quest to get hired. But in reality, if you’re in the position to be applying to be a consultant at McKinsey, you’ve already cleared a lot of hurdles (and had a lot of good luck) along the way.
The management consultant resume for McKinsey situates you at a crossroads in your life and career. It gathers up many of the things you’ve done, learned, and accomplished in the past. It orients them toward the future you want to achieve. The McKinsey resume is not simply a summary of all the things you’ve done. It’s also a kind of mission statement telling the company how you see yourself fitting in and thriving there. It tells the company how the first half of your story becomes the second half.
The task of writing the resume itself is a kind of test. From the language to the formatting, it communicates a lot about your education, values, competencies, and outlook beyond just the previous jobs you’ve held or certifications you’ve received. Let’s take a closer look at the McKinsey consulting resume, to give you a better sense of how you can send the best message about yourself in one page.
McKinsey Resume: Some Context
This article is going to cover how a consulting resume is different than a typical resume. It will cover the McKinsey resume format, tips, mistakes to avoid, and more. But keep in mind that if you are reading this early enough, you still have time. What’s fundamentally more important than the McKinsey resume format are the actual activities and experiences on the resume. If you still have a year before applying to McKinsey, find some ways to demonstrate leadership. Or, get involved in the community, or help start or run a business. But with that said, all else being equal, formatting and structuring your resume correctly can help you get an interview invite.
The Consulting Resume: How Is It Different?
The consulting resume has a lot in common with resumes you might construct for other roles in the business world. But the consulting world also has its own unique values and idiosyncrasies that make the consulting resume different.
Consulting firms are somewhat unified in what they look for in a candidate. This includes such abstract qualities as leadership and people/communications skills, as well as more tangential characteristics such as a track record of personal achievement and impactful work.
Of course, consulting is evidence-based work. This means that a certain number of objective criteria tend to be highly valued in the consulting world. These criteria include a history of education and employment at institutions with recognizable brand names. Not to mention, a track record of relevant quantitative achievement: high GPA, high test scores (in math especially), experience and expertise in various business and quant topics, and so on.
What Should a Consulting Resume Include?
First and foremost, your management consultant resume for McKinsey should include certain things. The firm will actually be looking for these things. Your resume should present you in a way that demonstrates you have some of the necessary experiences, education, and competence. There are standard industry practices that you should follow. They won’t get you hired in and of themselves, but they will keep your resume from being eliminated on sight. The Kellogg format, the Wharton format, and the Harvard format are examples that will work well for your McKinsey resume format.
Your McKinsey resume should include your relevant educational and employment history, with education starting first if you are currently in school, attended a brand-name institution, or graduated within the last year. These should be arranged in reverse chronological order. But it’s not simply enough to list the places you’ve worked and studied. You should include relevant information as to how these experiences have instilled in you the competencies and characteristics that a consulting firm will look for: innovation, problem-solving, leadership, and motivation.
Many people wonder whether they should include hobbies and extracurricular activities in their McKinsey consulting resume. Yes! These are important to include because they serve as some of the only ways you can humanize and personalize yourself in a bottomless stack of resumes. However, what you choose to include and how you choose to write it should be strategic. As with your work and employment experience, your extracurriculars should reveal the qualities that will make you an excellent consultant.
McKinsey Resume Tips
-McKinsey Resume Tip 1: Don’t be shy about big brand names! For better or worse, having a history of working for or studying at a famous institution will go a long way in getting you recognized. Part of the company’s job after hiring you involves selling your skills to new and existing clients, and this is much easier if the clients recognize and trust the other institutions you’ve been affiliated with. Some screeners have even said that the presence of impressive names on a resume can prevent the screener from being deterred by other imperfect or less-than-ideal components.
-McKinsey Resume Tip 2: Don’t be shy about your quantitative accomplishments! This isn’t a first date—it’s part of a hiring process. Consulting firms love to see evidence of achievement, from a high GPA, to high test scores, to expertise in various quant and business-related fields. You should also be sure to highlight any activities you’ve led or participated in that have created meaningful, measurable change.
-McKinsey Resume Tip 3: Be smart about formatting! We recommend organizing your resume into these five sections: Profile, Education, Professional Experience, Leadership Experience, and Personal. Strive for a balance between these, with just three to five bullet points per experience. Fewer than three bullets might make it seem like the experience isn’t worth including, whereas more than five makes it seem like you haven’t done a good job prioritizing the relevant information.
For more detailed information on how to make the perfect management consultant resume for McKinsey, see our Consulting Resume: A Complete Guide.
McKinsey Resume Mistakes to Avoid
McKinsey consulting jobs are highly competitive, and so their resume screeners are looking for any and every excuse to eliminate candidates from contention. Up to 60% of applicants are eliminated at this stage. Here are some common mistakes to avoid.
-McKinsey Resume Mistake 1: Bad formatting. Almost nothing gets your resume discarded as fast as bad formatting. Bad formatting tells a screener both that you don’t have the education or expertise necessary to recognize industry conventions, and that you haven’t networked enough—because otherwise your friends and colleagues would’ve helped improve your resume. Be sure to keep your resume to a single page. You can adjust the margins to some extent—aim for a balanced presentation that doesn’t waste too much space and can be easily skimmed.
– McKinsey Resume Mistake 2. Not being action oriented. It’s not enough to just list the roles you’ve held or even the awards you’ve won. You should convey the actual actions you’ve performed within those roles and the impact those actions have had for your company/institution.
– McKinsey Resume Mistake 3. Telling instead of showing. Even as you include the various activities you undertook, such as leading projects or completing tasks, it’s easy to fall into the trap of just telling instead of showing. Showing means including the relevant details and context in order to infuse your McKinsey resume with an actual sense of what you did, why you did it the way you did it, and (most importantly) the impacts & results you achieved. The management consulting industry is all about showing results. So, make sure you lean heavily on the impacts of your actions, presenting them in quantifiable form whenever possible.
There are many other simple mistakes you can easily avoid in your McKinsey resume format by visiting our Consulting Resume: A Complete Guide.
McKinsey Resume Wrap-Up
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of what it takes to write a strong McKinsey consulting resume. Think of the job of writing your resume as your unofficial first task as a consultant. After all, the job of the consultant is to gather and synthesize large quantities of information, to design a solution, and to make a proposal to a client. In this case, the solution you’re proposing is that McKinsey hire you as a consultant, and it’s your job to convince them why that’s the right decision. Good luck!
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- Consulting Resume: Complete Guide