The first step to getting a high-paying consulting job starts with creating a good consulting resume. Kanav Sharma cracked the consulting recruitment process at the Indian School of Business (ISB). He shares tips on how you can prepare a strong consulting CV.
How to create a Resume for Management Consulting Companies
by Kanav Sharma
It might be an unfair deal- You have worked hard all your life and all you get is one page to showcase it. But then if it is unfair for all, doesn’t that make it a fair deal?
Your resume, it is recommended should not be of more than 1 page unless you have too many research papers and publications that cannot fit into one page. In MBA parlance, I would say, empirical data has proved that 1 page is sufficient to cover 3 sigma of the students on each side of the curve.
Consider a resume like a real estate property in a high street area. You have to use each inch very judiciously. Strike out any word that does not add value. Avoid the usage of complicated words. And add your achievements selectively (I will elaborate on it in a later part in the article)
Fail fast, fail early!
Many aspirants, including me, underestimate the time and effort required to make a good resume. I started with an assumption that it might take 2 days and at most 4-5 revisions to come up with a resume that would make all recruiters fall in love with it at first sight.
I could not have been more wrong. It took me more than a month and over 25 iterations to come up with a version that I thought was just decent enough.
In the hindsight, I still believe I could have done a much better job. So my first and a very crucial advice to everyone would be to start working on your resume as soon as possible.
Format of the consulting resume
A typical resume should have 3 sections – Education, Work Experience and Extra Curricular activities. Generally, it is recommended that there should be at least one spike in each of the 3 sections to catch the attention of these consulting firms.
Since the most common question regarding the shortlisting is the extent of the importance of CGPA, it should be noted that a good CGPA is just one of the spikes you can have in this section. Other such spikes can be your projects, publications, patents etc.
But, a spike in each section is not the only thing that can get you a shortlist in these firms nor is it a sure recipe for a shortlist. If you have a great story to tell through your resume or you have some exceptional achievements like being featured in Limca Book of records, winning a national or international championship etc, you still have a great shot at the shortlist.
If you are mentioning a bullet point, in 70-80% of the cases it should be finished within one line. However it is completely understandable if for some bullet points you have to spill over to the second line. In this case however, try to make the most of the second line you have used.
Any blank spaces in your resume are discouraged. Imagine a land left vacant by a builder in a high street area. He could have utilized it more productively. A 3 line bullet point is generally not recommended.
Get your CAR!
Next, each line in your resume should follow the CAR pattern – Context, Action, Result, not necessarily in that order. If you are mentioning any point make sure that it mentions the context as to why it was acted upon, the action you took and the result of such an action. This is best explained by a few examples from some of the past successful resumes below
Examples to improve your Consulting Resume
1. Achieved 90% cost reduction of an heat analyser equipment by value engineering it to meet the needs of research labs.
2. Reduced R&D expenses by 2% by pioneering a distributed process flow for 30-strong group’s computer simulations.
3. Led a team of 2 to standardize the list of client deliverables used across 80 group companies; Resulted in ~7% reduction in time spent by McKinsey on the client
|1||of an heat analyser equipment||by value engineering it to meet the needs of research labs
|Achieved 90% cost reduction|
|2||for 30-strong group’s computer simulations
|by pioneering a distributed process flow||Reduced R&D expenses by 2%|
|3||to standardize the list of client deliverables used across 80 group companies||Led a team of 2||Resulted in ~7% reduction in time spent by McKinsey on the client
Making the Resume – The process
There is no one process fits all bills for this because each individual has a different style. However, there are a few general things that I would like to mention here.
1. It is highly recommended to go through the examples of past successful resumes. This would be provided to you by the placement cell of your college. Analyze at least 2-3 different resumes shortlisted for each firm and note down the common patterns/observations.
2. Share your resume with at least 3 people but not more than 5-6 people. Share it with at least one alumnus working in the consulting sector, one peer/classmate and one person completely oblivious to the entire process. The third one is important to get an external viewpoint for making sure that you are not getting too technical and for getting a validation of the kind of personality that is coming out of your resume.
3. Take feedback critically but do not incorporate all the feedback you get. You are the best judge of what should go inside that one page.
- Highlight selectively – It is recommended to highlight (bold,underline etc.) some of the important words in some of the points in your resume. However, it is an art to figure out the parts you have to bold out. Generally, there are two “hacks” suggested for this
- Just by reading the highlighted words, a reader should be able to guess what you are trying to say
- If you fold your 1 page of resume vertically, most of the highlighted words should be on the left half of the page
I personally did not follow the second hack, but, I know many (then aspirants & now consultants) who found this to be extremely useful.
4. List down all your achievements in one page and then pick and choose from this list for your different versions. As you navigate through various versions, you might find some of the excluded pointers more relevant than the included ones. To avoid missing out on recalling your achievements, it is better to list all of them down in a rough draft page as and when you could think of them.
In the end, I would like to say that there is no one way to make a shining resume and each one should adopt an approach which suits him/her the best.
But at the same time it is important to have these things mind, because if you get stuck, it is always easier to navigate ahead with few tools in hand than to experiment in this competitive world.