This consulting resume guide will help you avoid the most common consulting resume mistakes and help your resume stand out from the crowd.
Table of Contents
9. Next Steps
Your consulting resume is the single most important component that determines whether or not you will receive an interview.
Out of the hundreds of thousands of people that apply for consulting jobs each year, only 1 – 2% receive offers from top consulting firms, such as McKinsey, BCG, and Bain.
Getting an interview is the first step towards landing a top-tier consulting job offer.
Summarizing and highlighting all of your accomplishments, awards, and skills into a one-page resume is no easy task. Ensure you spend sufficient time carefully crafting your resume to maximize the likelihood you’ll be invited for an interview.
Recruiters and resume reviewers look for four main qualities when reviewing a resume:
- Intelligence: Resume reviewers want to see high GPAs, test scores, and academic accolades. These demonstrate that you are smart and competent.
- High Pedigree: Resume reviewers want to see that you’ve attended prestigious universities and held prestigious jobs at brand name companies. Consulting firms value prestigious pedigrees because it makes selling projects easier.
- Track Record of Success: Resume reviewers want to see successful completion of projects, job raises, and job promotions. These demonstrate that you will find success in whatever you do.
- Relevant Skills: Resume reviewers want to see that you have the skills to be successful as a consultant. These include both hard skills, such as analyzing data and solving problems, and soft skills, such as leading teams and managing direct reports.
Therefore, when crafting your resume, make sure to highlight these four qualities and make it easy for the resume reviewer to find.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through exactly how to craft an exceptional resume to highlight these qualities and stand out among your peers.
Keep the structure of your consulting resume clean and simple. Divide your resume into three sections:
- Additional Information
If you are applying as an undergraduate student or have little to no work experience, you will also need a fourth section:
- Extracurricular Activities
This section will go after Experience and come before Education and Additional Information.
Your resume needs to be one page. No exceptions. If your resume is longer than one page, make your content more concise.
The margins of your resume should be 0.5 inches on the left, right, top, and bottom. This is the optimal margin size to give yourself more space for content, without making the page seem crowded or too busy.
The font size should be Times New Roman. It is one of the most commonly used fonts and is highly conservative and safe to use. You will have no viewer compatibility issues with this font.
For the body of your resume, use a font size of 10.
For the title of your sections, use font size of 11 and all capital letters.
These are the optimal font sizes to give yourself more space for content, without making your resume difficult to read.
Here is what a well-formatted resume should look like:
The first line of your consulting resume should be your full name. To make your name stand out, capitalize all of the letters and make the font size at least 18.
The second line of your resume should have your personal contact information: address, phone number, and email.
They should all fit on one line to save yourself space for content.
Here is what the first two lines should look like:
The order of your consulting resume sections should be:
- Extracurricular Activities (only for undergraduates)
- Additional Information
The reason for this is that consulting firms value work experience the most. Therefore, you want to show it first.
The order of work experience should go from most recent at the top to oldest at the bottom.
When allocating resume space to each job or role, you should proportion them roughly by how long you had that job or role.
Example: Let’s say that you have had two jobs so far. You worked at your first job for one year and your second job for three years. Therefore, your first job should get one-fourth of the total space in the Experience section and your second job should get three-fourths of the total space.
The exception to this is if you’ve worked at a prestigious or well-known company, such as Goldman Sachs or Google. Prestige and brand names are heavily valued in consulting, so you’ll want to allocate more bullets to these work experiences.
If you have only had one job, but worked there for a long period of time, it may be helpful to separate your bullets into different projects. This will make it easier for the resume reviewer to digest.
Here is an example of how you might separate your bullets into different projects:
Each job that you list should have a minimum of two bullets, the minimum space needed to show depth of accomplishments and achievements.
List the most impressive bullets under each work experience first. Often times, resume reviewers will only read the first couple of bullets.
Every single bullet should start with a verb and be in the past tense to show that you have completed or achieved the accomplishment.
Ideally, every bullet on your resume will start with a different verb to show a variety of different accomplishments.
Every single bullet should also have some kind of number or metric in them.
Consultants think in terms of numbers, so the more you can quantify your resume bullets, the more impressive and credible they will be.
Don’t just explain what you did and how you did it. Explain what impact your work had and what effect it had on the organization. What was the magnitude of the impact? How many people were affected?
If you improved something at work, how much did it get better? How much additional revenues did you help generate? How much costs did you help save? How does your performance compare to benchmarks?
Examples of poor bullets:
- Bad: Analyzed survey responses to identify customer improvement areas
- Better: Led an eight-person analytics team to analyze 100K+ survey responses to identify customer improvement areas worth $200M in annual revenue
- Bad: Planned annual customer service budget
- Better: Planned $500M customer service budget, mediating conflict between customer service and product teams to identify $150M in annual savings
- Bad: Created customer service strategy for 2M support tickets by working with product managers, engineers, and research teams
- Better: Created customer service strategy for 2M support tickets; achieved $4M savings annually and improved customer satisfaction by 15%
Your resume bullets should be allocated equally between quantitative skill accomplishments, such as analyzing data, and qualitative skill accomplishments, such as managing or working with others.
Consulting firms look for candidates that are not only analytical problem solvers, but also leaders and team players. Therefore, make sure to balance these two qualities.
Many resumes tend to over-index on quantitative skill accomplishments, since they are easier to quantify the impact. However, you can also quantify the impact of your qualitative skills.
Examples of qualitative skill accomplishments:
- Supervised and managed intern, providing coaching and mentorship leading to intern receiving full-time offer and top 10% performance rating
- Collaborated with 18 different client teams to detail a 5-year, $100M investment roadmap to increase revenues by 40% over the next 5 years
- Communicated with field sales force and product development teams on a daily basis to qualify, enter, and ensure $18M+ in revenues are correctly quoted and entered
Finally, make sure to keep your resume bullets simple and non-technical.
A resume reviewer that does not have experience in the industry or function that you worked in should be able to understand every word.
Avoid using the following:
- Technical jargon that only those working in the technical field would understand
- Abbreviations or acronyms that the average human doesn’t recognize (e.g., GTM, DTC, B2B, CAGR, F500)
- Buzzwords with unclear meanings (e.g., value proposition, full-potential transformation, end-to-end)
Extracurricular Activities Section (for undergraduates only)
You should only have this section in your consulting resume if you are an undergraduate student with limited or no working experience.
Unlike work experience, you can organize your activities in order from most impressive at the top to least impressive on the bottom.
You want resume reviewers to read your most impressive accomplishments first. Under each activity, list the most impressive bullets first.
Other than this, follow the same guidelines as the Experience section when writing your bullet points:
- Have at least two bullets for each activity
- Start each bullet with a different past-tense verb
- Quantify the impact of each bullet with a number or metric
- Balance showing quantitative and qualitative skill accomplishments
Here is an example of an Extracurricular Activities Section:
The Education Section of your consulting resume should be short to give yourself more space for your work experience.
List your school name, degree, and major.
If you have high test scores or grades, list them here.
Test scores and grades are a quick way for a resume reviewer to see that you are intelligent. They add instant credibility, so include them if they are high.
For test scores, you can include scores from exams such as the SAT, GMAT, GRE, or LSAT. For grades, you can list your GPA, student ranking, or academic honors.
If your test scores or grades are low, it is better to not list them. They could negatively impact the first impression that resume reviewers have.
Additionally, you can have one bullet that summarizes all of the extracurricular activities and accomplishments you had in school.
Prioritize emphasizing leadership roles in activities or clubs rather than just listing that you were a member.
Also, it is better to list a few activities and explain the impact you had rather than listing numerous activities without explaining the impact.
Here is an example of what the Education section should look like:
If you are an undergraduate with limited work experience, you will summarize your school activities and accomplishments in more detail in the Extracurricular Activities section instead.
The Additional Information section of your consulting resume will also be short and concise to give yourself more space for your work experience.
Organize this section into categories such as: Skills, Certifications, Languages, Volunteer, or Interests.
You will not have space for all of these categories, so pick the categories where you have the most to showcase.
- Skills: List technical skills that may be relevant to consulting. These include analytical skills using software such as Tableau, Alteryx, SQL, or R. Do not list something basic, such as Excel or PowerPoint. Everyone knows how to use these.
- Certifications: List any certifications or designations that you have, such as CFA or CPA.
- Languages: List the languages you speak and indicate your fluency level: basic, proficient, professional, or fluent. Order the languages from most proficient to least.
- Volunteer: Highlight volunteer work or non-profit board positions you have had. Make sure to describe and quantify impact of your work.
- Interests: Highlight interesting personal accomplishments or hobbies. Ideally, these would be interests that are great conversation starters
Make sure to include Interests in your resume. This is likely the only part of the resume that is interesting to reviewers.
If you’ve won multiple ice cream-making competitions or have a planet or star named after you, include these fun facts.
Avoid listing generic interests such as photography or cooking, which are not memorable.
Here is an example of an Additional Information Section:
When you finish crafting your consulting resume, make sure you proofread it. Resume typos and errors look sloppy and careless and will reflect poorly on you.
Go through your resume line-by-line and read it out loud to yourself. By reading it out loud, you’ll likely catch typos and mistakes that you would have missed if you had just read it silently.
Once your resume is drafted to the best of your ability, ask for feedback from other people.
Good people or resources to ask include:
- Career Services team at your school
- Classmates or colleagues that have worked in consulting before
- School alumni that are current or former consultants
- Consultants that you met through networking events
It is always good to get multiple people to review your resume before submitting. They will give you alternative perspectives and feedback that you can use to improve your resume.
Once your resume is finalized, save it as a PDF file and check for any formatting issues.
When submitting your resume, always submit as a PDF file, unless told otherwise.
People have different versions of different word processors, so submitting a resume as a word processor file might lead to formatting incompatibility issues.
By using PDF instead, you guarantee that your resume will look exactly as it appears in the PDF file.
Make sure to include your full name in the title of the file that you submit. You do not want to have a generic resume file name, such as “Resume.pdf”
Now that you have optimized your consulting resume, you should focus on preparing for your consulting case interviews.
Try our comprehensive case interview course for free, which consolidates hundreds of hours of case interview material into a 15 - 25 hour course that you can complete at your own pace.
The material in the course has helped 6,000+ students across 13+ countries land offers at top-tier consulting firms such as McKinsey, BCG, and Bain.