5 Tips to Writing a Winning Resume for Management Consulting
Some of the questions I receive with high frequency are focused on how to write a resume good enough to successfully land an interview at companies like McKinsey, BCG or Bain.
In this post, I'll go through 5 easy tips to enhance your resume and increase the likelihood that it will pass the review process and you’ll be offered a first-round interview.
CAVEAT - YOU NEED TO HAVE WHAT IT TAKES!
With this post I am going to help you to adjust your resume and maximize your chances to land an interview, nevertheless the content of your resume is the result of years of cumulated experience and it cannot be changed in a week or month, or by simply following my advices on this post.
I will assume that you are good enough to get an interview but you are interested to know how to ensure that your resume can actually convey all your potential.
Having said that, my experience in recruiting taught me that the resume screening process is less rigid than what you might think. I interviewed candidates that came out from university with just average marks but whose resume was strong enough to highlight other types of strengths. So don’t be discouraged if your GPA is not exceptionally good or there are other types of gaps in your resume as long as you have a story to tell that will make you appear like an interesting candidate.
TIP 1 -
HIGHLIGHT EXACTLY WHAT CONSULTING COMPANIES ARE LOOKING FOR
If you apply to any consulting company as a junior profile there will be three elements that your potential recruiter will be looking for in your resume:
Intellectual capabilities: the first proxy of your intellectual capabilities is of course your GPA. If you have good grades simply highlight them in your CV; if not, try to stress any alternative experience that can prove you are a smart, reliable resource to be add to the company (e.g. scholarships, prizes, good results from other courses)
Social skills: eventually consulting is a people business. If you’ll have the chance to join a consulting company you’ll be sharing 12-14 hours per day with your teammates.... sometimes even more! Being able to effectively work with the rest of the team and the client is a vital skill to succeed in this business. Prove that you have already been a good team member in previous settings (e.g. in a sport team) and if possible also that you have already dealt with clients. If you can clearly prove this, the box will be easily checked!!
Flexibility: one of the best aspect of consulting is that you keep on changing: you change customers, industries, topics and colleagues regularly. To cope with these changes you need to show flexibility. To do this, show in your resume that you have accomplished much more than your university studies and/or your previous job, explain how you managed to juggle in parallel multiple activities and you are already used to multi-task and work under pressure.
TIP 2 -
GIVE EVIDENCE THAT YOU ARE UNIQUE
Often times I have to go through an incredible number of CVs that look all the same: top school background, amazing grades, active participation to university clubs.. and still I cannot find any spark highlighting one resume over the others.
What I always say to people asking me how to improve their CV is to “put some color in the resume”. What I mean is to include something that characterizes you, not necessarily related to work. It could be a passion, an interest, an experience… something that will trigger the interest of the reader. During my university years I used to play in a band and I also recorded an album. I included this detail in my resume and across all the interviews I made this became the hottest topic of discussion. This contributed to made myself a unique candidate in front of the eyes of the interviewer and eventually to land me the job offer.
So don’t let your resume be just a black and white piece of paper, but add some color!
TIP 3 -
I love to do recruiting interviews but most of the time they happen just in the middle of busy case assignments when my time availability is extremely limited, so sometimes I end up screening the resumes a few minutes before entering the interview room.
A big no-go for me is to be forced to read resumes longer than 2 pages. Unless you have more than a decade of work experience in several different sectors I really don’t see any reason why you should write that level of detail in your resume.
In my opinion the best length of a resume is a single full page.. And this is valid both for fresh undergraduates, for MBAs with a few years of experience under their belt as well as for professionals with several years of working experience. Show that you can be concise and are willing to use the interviews to deep dive on the topics that the interviewer will find more interesting about you.
TIP 4 -
DON’T COVER UP YOUR WEAK SPOTS BUT RATHER HIGHLIGHT YOUR STRENGTHS
Let’s start from the fact that the perfect resume does not exist. Anybody has strengths (that you should deliberately highlight in your CV) and points of development. Sometimes it’s easy to avoid talking about your weaknesses (e.g. if you failed at your guitar exam, just don’t say it.. Nobody will ask a question), other times it’s not (e.g. your grades are not as good as you would like them to be, you have been fired from your previous job, etc). In this latter case, don’t hide your point of development! You can be sure that hiding it will make the interviewer suspicious, most likely he will discover the truth during the interview and it will become obvious that you tried unsuccessfully to hide something.
If you have a weak point that you cannot avoid mentioning, just try to include it in your resume together with other experiences that can counterbalance that weakness.
I love to see the confidence of a candidate that look at me in the eyes and say “I have not been able to do X but I learnt from it”. It shows honesty, confidence and credibility.
TIP 5 -
PROOF READ THE RESUME FOUR TIMES BEFORE SUBMITTING IT
Reading hundreds of resumes takes time. If you give the recruiting department or the consultants who will eventually perform the interview a reason to ding you, they will gladly take it and move to the next candidate. Misspellings, typos, poor grammar, and other errors are clear signal of lack of professionalism and attention to details.
Don’t blow your chance to land the interview: always proofread several times what you have prepared and, if possible, have others reviewing your resume for you as well.
Check our range of services offered to help you get prepared for your next consulting interviews at this link! We already helped hundreds of candidates!!