Resumes come in different formats, layouts and styles, but how should you draft the perfect consulting resume? We can't say it enough; you should always draft a unique cover letter and resume to fit the requirements of each company that you plan on applying to.
We asked the folks at the Career Center (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor) for some advice about drafting a resume. Here's what they had to say:
Too often, job-seekers focus their resume on the tasks they performed in their previous experience. While it is important to provide context, the real focus should be on your impact and your skills. One of the best ways to demonstrate this on a resume is to write bullet points in 'what-plus' form. This means that you should not only list what you did in a given position, but provide additional details as to:
- Why the task was important
- Your impact within the organization
- How you performed your duties
- What skills you used or developed
Many thanks to the Career Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Management Consulted give some great advice in “How to write a management consulting resume from scratch – plus 10 critical tips,” geared specifically to consulting resumes.
How to build a consulting-targeted resume from scratch
If you don’t have a resume, your first step is to check out example resume templates.
In general, all resumes/CVs should include:
- A header section with personal information
- Sections for work experience, educational background, and miscellany interests/skills/activities
- Bulleted text as opposed to text paragraphs
- Key information on each experience such as your title, the location, and length of time involved
In addition, most consulting resumes do not have a lead “summary” or “objectives” section as is common in international CVs. Two reasons:
- Your summary and objectives should be communicated clearly through your achievements
- Resume readers are busy – a summary section adds little additional value
Finally, 99% of consulting resumes are one page long. Same goes for the cover letter! If you have more than 5 years of experience, or have switched industries abnormally often, 2 pages is ok. Anything longer than that is recruiting suicide.
Put yourself into a recruiter’s or a consultant’s shoes. At most, you have 5 minutes to review the resume. That’s actually pretty generous – average review time is probably more like 2-3 minutes. You need to make a decision about whether this person deserves an interview in that timeframe. You have very little time…so:
- You focus on the candidate’s 1-2 most impressive achievements
- You hope it’s in PDF…so you can avoid annoying formatting issues and document-opening errors
You need to determine whether you deserve an interview… So:
- You look for the specific consulting skills that are needed in the job (more on that below)
- You read the Interests/Hobbies section because, let’s admit, it’s the most interesting part!
- You do an overall review of the resume’s professionalism, paying attention to alignment, grammar, and typos
Now take those steps, and think about how you can improve your resume from the consultant’s perspective.