Tailoring Your Resume for Consulting

Published: Mar 31, 2009

Consulting firms receive thousands of applications each year, both during recruiting season and otherwise. Your resume serves as an important tool for recruiters in the selection/elimination process. You increase your selection chances by tailoring your resume and cover letter to specific consulting firms and positions. <p>Consulting recruiters look for the following on resumes:<p><ul><li> Evidence of academic strength. Some firms insist on this information and even set GPA/board score cutoff points. Scores are usually more important for undergraduates than MBAs or career changers.<p><li>Team player characteristics. Consulting firms structure their teams very carefully. Some of them use complicated matrices to determine the best fit for each project based on available resources, necessary skills, and training plans. Recruiters want people who can play their roles with flexibility and grace.<p><li> Propensity for leadership and confidence. Consulting firms want employees with a senior management potential. They see all hires as either future partners or future clients. Consulting firms want to work with employees who already demonstrate a predisposition to leadership, not someone who needs to be taught from scratch. Evidence of such potential includes leadership positions held in college and/or the undertaking of new initiatives without support.<p><li>Accomplishments. Firms seek people who boast long lists of accomplishments that demonstrate reliability, tenacity, commitment, motivation, and high standards of excellence. Clients want to hire consultants who can get things done well, in a short amount of time and without too much hassle. <p><li> Distinctions. You've got lots of competition. However, if you can differentiate yourself on your resume highlighting technical skills, foreign languages, publications, awards, notable public appearances it will be to your advantage. <p><li> Client skills. Consulting is a client business. Consultants must work well with clients. Evidence of this might include a service-oriented job, like a part-time technical support position or a community service position.<p></li></li></li></li></li></li></ul>In some cases, recruiters look for relevant functional expertise (e.g. engineering or finance) or for specific industry experience or technical skills. If you know this ahead of time, emphasize any germane experiences you have. Wherever possible, quantify your results to make your achievements more concrete and tangible. <p>Be aware that how you write and structure your resume says a lot about how you communicate with others. Make your resume as terse as possible, and make your layout easy on the eyes. A consultant's time is worth many hundreds of dollars per hour, and your client's time is equally important. No one involved has enough patience to read through copious paragraphs, so learn to use bullet points and get to the bottom line.

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