What is the secret in writing the perfect management consulting resumes so as to be picked for that so-too-scarce first round interview position? What are the tips and tricks that you can add to your existing resume to boost your chances without lying about what you’ve done.
This article will be the first of several articles that explain how to write the perfect consulting resume to help you get that valuable first round interview slot at McKinsey, BCG or Bain. We will use a sample résumé from a real candidate as an example.
So here is a resume of a real candidate who applied for consulting interviews but did not receive a first round interview because it lacked the four key points that recruiters look for in consulting resumes. Here are the four key points.
Exhibit diverse skill set and experience
Recruiters look for a diverse skill set in resumes for a couple of reasons.
A. Management consulting is a very rigorous and demanding job that requires learning on the spot and being able to learn very quickly every time you go into a project in a different industry. So McKinsey, BCG and Bain wants to hire people who are able to learn very quickly the things that they’ve never seen before. Because of that recruiters look for the same qualities in the form of diverse skill sets and diverse experiences in your resume, as those show that you are able to handle diverse work and are not only good at one thing
B. If you have had many different experiences in different industries, then recruiters like you because you can quickly bring the diverse knowledge into the different projects you will be working on. If you are computer scientist and all you know is how to code in Python or C++ with all your experience being a software engineer, then that does not bode well for your chances because the recruiter sees you as very monotonous and good in only one area. (Obviously experienced hires are different in this case)
Bringing all this insight back to the resume of this particular candidate, you can already see why he did not land the interview slot. Most of his experiences, from professional to academic, are all related to civil and structural engineering and does not exhibit the diverse skill set or the diverse experiences that recruiters are looking for.
Your resume content should be number driven
Management consulting oftentimes is about numbers. Apple is a mega cap company worth 900 Billion USD. Nvidia experienced a profit increase of 2 Billion USD this quarter. Nike’s CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) was 15% in China for the past 5 years.
Therefore you want to bring numbers into your resume as well so as to indicate that you are good with numbers and that you’re comfortable using numbers. If you look at this candidates’ three experiences in his “PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE” section, you see that numbers are truly lacking except 70-store and 40-story. To better his chances to get an interview, this candidate should increase the word density of numbers as well as include numbers that are more related to management consulting, such as that he worked for Desimone Engineering, a 300 million USD revenue company and worked on a 25 million dollar residential high rise project.
Show results and impact with your experiences
If Coca-Cola hires a group of BCG consultants for 2 million dollars in 12 weeks, the CEO of Coca-Cola James Quincy would want results. He would want to see that BCG has accomplished something for the company in terms of either a reduction in cost, a big increase in profit or something that showcases that the two million dollars are well spent. Therefore recruiters, in finding the right candidates, also look for results that candidates have accomplished or impact they have made in their past jobs.
So how do you show results in a resume? You want to show in your previous internship experiences, whether it was in computer science, marketing, engineering or public works, that you have changed something significant in your organization within a short period of time. This actually ties back closely to numbers, as you can show results by using numbers strategically. Here is an example of the candidate’s first experience in his resume, but rewritten to show both impact and numbers.
Desimone Consulting Engineers, Miami, Engineering Intern
- Involved in the design process of a 70-story highrise. Reduced cost of construction for the client by 25% using innovative design.
- Through rigorous planning, I completed the design phase using 15% less time than required.
Brand yourself as interesting with surprises in your resume
Consulting is very rigorous work that demands between 50 to 90 hours a week. But consultants definitely follow the model of work hard, play hard. If you go to any of the major firms, every single consultant has a very exciting and diverse personal life outside of work. So recruiters also want to give interview opportunities to candidates that have a very rich life experience that is interesting, surprising and unconventional and that can enrich the existing culture and diversity of the firm already.
If you have scuba dived in all five continents of the world, put that on your resume!
If you have biked from San Diego all the way up to Seattle in one go along the west coast of the United States, put that on your resume!
If you have written a controversial article in the school journal that raised students’ awareness on animal health care, put that on a resume!
Here is just a couple more bullets of what you can put on your resume that are interesting and surprising and that probably no one else in the applicant pool have done
- I organized and orchestrated a campus-wide Harry Potter musical that reached 3000 students
- I am a book worm at heart and have over 2000 books in my basement
- My research on pediatrics helped 200+ disabled children and made their lives a lot happier
So these are the four key points that are important in writing a perfect consulting resume. Now you can see why this candidate was unable to get even a first round interview slot with a top consulting firm as he lacked all four of these points. So keep in mind in your own resumes on these four points and I guarantee that you will be significantly closer to getting an interview with a top consulting firm. Stay tuned for the articles and videos in the coming weeks for more details on more tips of how to write an excellent consulting resume.
We have also attached a revised version of the candidate’s resume that showcases an improvement of all 4 points.