Today we’re taking on a hot topic – how to polish your resume consulting style.
Many of our resume edit clients come to us with the wrong assumption that the resume they submitted with their non-consulting applications will serve just fine for management consulting positions. They couldn’t be more mistaken.
Why is it that a consulting resume is so different from a resume for any other industry? Because you’re dealing with a highly competitive industry with a finely tuned recruiting process and a specific candidate profile.
So how does the resume review process work in management consulting firms? And is there a difference between how a firm’s recruiters look at your resume vs. the firm’s consultants?
Before we reveal our 3 insights into how recruiters read resumes for consulting, let’s set the stage with a quick review of our part 1 post on the subject – How management consultants read resumes – and the secrets behind landing an interview.
Today, we’ll take a deep-dive look into the consulting resume review process. For MBB, the consulting resume review is done in a committee.
In contrast, Deloitte’s process is more recruiter-heavy than MBBs – so you need to know who your audience is and what they care about.
For both, the target school resume review process goes as follows — a team of 4-8 analysts, associates, and managers will review your resume. Most members of the team will have graduated from your school (undergrad, graduate, and/or MBA). The final decision on whether you get an interview slot is made by this committee.
For each applicant, the resume consulting review team is looking for key areas —
Academic success: good signs include high GPA, high standardized test scores (especially math, but all scores above 700 is a good barometer), and challenging courses of study (e.g., multiple majors, technical degrees, etc.) with good grades in those classes.
Work experience: good signs include brand-name companies, jobs where you took initiative and demonstrated impact, analytical skills applied, and breadth and depth of work experience.
Leadership and entrepreneurship: good signs include founding companies and campus groups, and experience leading teams.
For MBB, you just go straight to the panel. For Deloitte, however, before you make it to the resume review panel, you’ve got to get past the Deloitte recruiting staff. Recruiters are your first line of resistance, and they are especially active at guarding the gates of Deloitte. What are they looking for? How are they evaluating your resume? What determines whether they “pass” on you or forward your resume to the consulting review team?
Here’s the good news – a great resume will pass at Deloitte and at McKinsey. And even better news – you only need one amazing consulting resume.
Besides the standard set of elements your resume must have for top consulting firms – a GPA of at least 3.5, a degree from a target school, high standardized test scores, etc. – there are 3 things resume reviewers are looking for in a consulting resume.
1. Polished resume presentation
A polished presentation is an absolute must if you want to make it to the interview consideration round. A top consulting firm charges $1.5-2M for 12 week’s work – to anyone, a very large sum – so showing you have an acute attention to detail is crucial. If you can’t hack it with a simple resume, do you think they’re going to trust you to create a consulting final presentation or financial model predicting the future for a Fortune 100 CEO?
Recruiters will be evaluating your resume for consistent margins, readable font sizes, formatting consistency, correct spelling and grammar, good organization, adequate context, and overall flow and clarity. They’re not going into detail, but they will discard any resumes that are egregiously long (more than 2 pages), super sloppy, or generally funky.
Here’s something you can do to make sure you’re leveraging every point possible with recruiters – be sure your consulting resume demonstrates correct use of emphasis. If the best part of your application is your education, put your school/degree/GPA info at the top of your resume. If the leadership role you had in college is going to impress them, give enough context to paint a colorful picture. If you received your university’s top award, make sure it’s first in the list.
Lastly, and probably most importantly for Deloitte resumes (and MBB resumes), don’t include irrelevant information. Keep it clear and simple, and avoid having too many sections – stick with Professional/Experience, Education, and Personal. Make sure your sections are all business-focused, even if you had a technical or detail-oriented role. Too much detail about a database (with technical jargon) will show them right away you’re not ready to play from a high-level in the penthouse suite; you’re showing you’ll get lost in the weeds and would be more fit for a lower-paying tech job than a job in the consulting suite.
Don’t underestimate the impact presentation can make on your application. The smallest mistake could cast doubt on your application, and that’s the last thing you want when you have no recourse to defend yourself!
#2 Consulting “fit”
A recruiter is never going to recommend a resume that doesn’t convey a fit for consulting. Your job is to make sure your resume gives plenty of ways for a consulting recruiter to picture you working as a consultant, and more specifically, as an analyst/associate/consultant at their firm.
How can you do that?
First, demonstrate success in a variety of situations. Start with a stellar education from a top university, follow that with amazing leadership experience, and close with awards, distinctions, and accolades you’ve received.
Next, demonstrate an interest in business, numbers, and strategy. Recruiters need to know that you can grasp the bigger picture, and not get stuck in the weeds, and that you’re comfortable with your analytical side.
Third, give evidence that you’re an effective communicator. Your typical day as a consultant will consist of client meetings, internal team meetings, data gathering and analysis, PowerPoint slide creation, and conference calls. Most of this requires excellent teamwork and communication skills, so anything you can include on your resume that demonstrates your communication prowess – leadership positions, fundraising activities, etc. – is going to gain you points with the recruiter.
#3 Dynamic personality
Nobody wants to spend 60 hours a week with a bore. Consulting is time-intensive, and – harsh reality – you’re probably going to spend more time at work than with your friends and family, at least when you’re close to a deliverable. Recruiters are looking for candidates who can get along with others, have the ability to relate with clients at various levels of seniority, and enjoy meeting new people. In short, they’re looking for prospects with a personality!
There’s one place on your consulting resume dedicated to sharing your personality – the Interests section at the very bottom. When scanning hundreds of resumes, reviewers look for glimpses of fun – and this section provides it. Languages, activities, and specific interests give life to your overall application, and as a bonus, offer welcome moments of joy in a long day’s review.
In addition to giving recruiters a glimpse of your personality, the Interests section also serves perhaps a more important purpose at a later stage – in the interview, these pieces of info are great icebreakers.
In summary, when you’re applying to top consulting firms, make sure you’re ready to pass both a screen by the recruiter and a screen by the resume panel. The recruiter’s glimpse will be quick, so make sure you make a good first impression.
Hope you enjoyed our latest post! For more on management consulting resumes, read additional posts from MC: