The most overlooked and undermined part of the preparation process. Yet technically, it is the most important one. Why? Because without an outstanding consulting resume and a consultant cover letter, your chances of landing your dream job will end up in the recruiter’s bin.

Recruiters will get hundreds of applications every single day, and having to go through so much so often, you can be sure they will not have a detailed look at every resume. Because of this, you need to make sure yours is eye-catching and just about covers everything they need to hear without swarming them with unnecessary information.

Over half of the applicants will not get past this step due to the state of their application. So sit tight, read carefully, and prepare for at least a full day’s work on your consulting resume to get the perfect outcome.

Importance of an eye-catching resume

So, keeping in mind that you usually have about 10-15 seconds to gain the recruiter’s attention, you need to select the most important details to highlight. Make sure to highlight your strengths and achievements but in short and clear sentences or bullet points. Take your time to perfectly understand what it is the recruiters are looking for. For a real in-depth look at this, feel free to check out this case interview guide.

Initial research and what they are looking for

Of course, you probably already have an idea what it is that is required for the job you are applying for, but do not take this too lightly. Do specific research for the company you are applying for and the city they are based in, and try to address all the points that they are considering the most important.

This will give you a better idea of what to prioritize, what skills and previous achievements to make your stand-out attributes, which to mention somewhere below in your resume, and which you can skip altogether.

While what is required for each consulting position will vary depending on the industry you are in, there are some skills we can agree will always be sought-after in this line of work. Those include problem-solving skills, working in a team, analytical skills, leadership, result delivery. No matter which industry you are consulting in, these skills will always be in high demand.

Formatting your resume

While you have to do something to stand out among your competition, don’t go thinking that using wacky fonts or layouts will get you noticed in a good way. On the contrary, it will likely get your resume sent to the bin in record-breaking time.

Stick to the industry guidelines for writing a consulting resume. Try to limit yourself to one page, make four to five separate paragraphs, and do not use any photos or graphics. There are plenty of free consulting resume templates to be found online, and you can do no wrong by picking one and sticking to it, should you find it easier to start this way.

Your name should be at the top of the page, in bold and larger type. Below this, add your email address and telephone number. Margins should be between 8mm and 16mm. Always double check your personal information for any typing errors.

The main course of your consulting resume should be your key skills and your previous achievements. It’s important to distinguish your achievements from your previous job titles. Recruiters will not pay attention to what your job title was or what your duties there were, but solely on your achievements in it and the successes that your work brought. They are, after all, looking for a stand-out individual who has something to offer to their company.

Where your achievements are concerned, don’t be shy or humble. Present them proudly and don’t be hesitant to use numbers percentages as well, for example:

My work has seen the company increase its profit in product sales by a staggering 7% over 8 months.

However, do keep in mind that you don’t want to swarm the recruiter with unnecessary information. Keep your sentences short, simplify your explanations, and only highlight things that are relevant to the issue at hand.

Data collection and planning

Do not just start writing when you have done your research. Establish a plan that you are going to draw upon, gather a pool of points to know what it is you have to cover, and what to prioritize while building your document.

This will also be useful in putting together different iterations of your resume later on, should you be inclined to do so. Your consulting resume, unlike the cover letter, can be used again later on, at least for a few years.

Make a list of your crucial skills and experiences. For your previous experiences, academic or professional, make sure to list your key responsibilities that were included. Be it your summer internship, your previous job position, or voluntary work, add a bit of detail by clarifying your duties.

If you have a past experience that you consider crucial for this line of work, emphasize it. Make a separate list just for that job/experience and add bullet points about what it is you did there, and what the results of your work were.

Another good thing to do is to signal your skills through your achievements. Match up your achievements with skills that were required to accomplish them. You can, for example, highlight your leadership skills through your university project organization. Or money management skills on an example from your previous job, where you increased profits by cutting unnecessary expenses.

It all depends on your previous experiences but connecting them with your skills goes a long way in the recruiter’s mind.

Writing your resume

Once you have done your research, gathered all the required information, and have it neatly organized, you can begin writing your consulting resume. We’ve already talked about formatting and personal information at the top of the page, so we will get down to the core right away.

You can start with the Education section. Make sure to list your degrees, your university name, and location, and highlight any awards, scholarships, or additional useful activities that you have participated in during your studies.

After Education, work on your Work Experience section. As mentioned before, this is a great place to highlight your skills through your previous achievements in the business. List your previous job titles, company names, and the start/end dates of your employment. Then, through bullet points, emphasize the contribution you made in that position and which skills made that possible.

Aside from your skills and achievements, something you should consider adding to your consulting resume is volunteering. Not any volunteering, obviously, but if it is connected to your job or if it demonstrates the desired skill, you can feel free to add it.

Recruiters prefer well-rounded candidates and this will give you an edge over other competitors that have not been involved in such activities.

This can be considered as additional information on your resume. While it is not the key component of it, should you make it to the interview you can be certain that the interviewer will ask you further questions related to this section.

Things you should avoid listing usually include your achievements from a very young age, or high school grades.

After volunteering, the next section should include your interests and various activities outside of work that would be worth mentioning to the employer.

And the last segment should be the Language section. Besides listing languages that you can speak, always include the level of expertise.

The read over and double-check

Once you have finished writing, you can start your quality control round. Go through everything you have written down and for starters, check for grammar or typing errors. Then go through it again and check if there is something you have written down that can be left out. Vice versa, check if there is something that can be added.

Always ask yourself “is everything here necessary for the recruiter to read?”. You want to keep it simple, yet give them all the information required to see you as the top-ranking candidate for this job.

To Wrap it Up

Taking your consulting resume and cover letter for granted is one of the worst things you can do if you want to get a job at one of the top consulting firms. Doesn’t matter how much experience, desire, and skill you have, if the recruiter doesn’t deem your resume worth reading in the first several seconds, it’s game over for you.

So invest time into creating a great consulting resume that will grab the recruiter’s attention and make him read through it thoroughly. If you’re lucky, you’ll be contacted and instructed about further steps of recruitment and you can then proceed to prepare yourself for your interview day.