Focus on Your Soft Skills
For any job, showing off your abilities on your resume is important. But while most people highlight their functional or hard skills—like great financial modeling or project management experience—consulting prowess always comes down to the soft skills.
In other words, you can highlight your tangible skills, but don’t rely on them to get you through the process. Your resume (and cover letter) should demonstrate both your interest and competence at core consulting skills such as problem-solving, communication, client management, and general high achievement. For advice on how to do this effectively, Lily Zhang has some great tips.
Quantify Them as Much as Possible
It’s common resume knowledge that you should talk about not only what you did, but also the outcomes you achieved. In a consulting resume, you’ll want to take this a step further and quantify your experiences and accomplishments.
For example, if you won a business case competition, you should also include what you placed and how many teams you were up against (e.g., 2nd place out of 15 teams). The same goes for work or volunteer experience. If you managed a team, state how many members there were. If you implemented a cost-saving initiative, include the dollar or percentage savings that occurred as a result of your work. It’s this extra level of detail that will illustrate your impact as compared to other applicants—and bring your high achievement to life.
Be VERY Succinct
Communication is one of the most important skills for consultants, and the best way for you to show this skill off before you get in the door for an interview is in how you write your resume.
While it’s always important not to be long-winded (that 8.5×11” sheet of paper may only be reviewed for a couple minutes, if that), it’s extra important on a consulting resume. Crafting short, compelling bullet points shows that you’re able to weed through a lot of information (your experiences and accomplishments) to pull out the most important tidbits, that you can quickly and clearly communicate, and that you’re able to make an effective and compelling case. If you can do it for yourself, you can certainly do it for client work!
Blow Your Own Horn, Loudly
Consulting is a competitive field, which means everyone is doing their best to showcase themselves (and most of them are superstars). So, if you don’t use your resume as an opportunity to show how great you are, guaranteed someone else will—and will ultimately shine a bit brighter.
Here’s an example: Through my resume reviewing experience, I have seen people with similar backgrounds represent them in largely different ways. One candidate might provide a one-liner listing of the experience hoping it will speak for itself (e.g., “Lead volunteer team”), while others will use it to their advantage (e.g., Lead a volunteer team of 5 to provide consulting services to a nonprofit which ultimately led to a 20% increase in fundraising).
The lesson: For every statement you make on your resume, see how you can take it a few steps further to describe how awesome you are. While showing off can be difficult to do, it is really important for standing out—and continuing through the process to land a consulting interview.