How I Prepared My Student Resume For A Career In Consulting

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As a recent new graduate and now business analyst at a major consulting firm, I know how tough it can be to perfect your resume to make it “consulting ready.”

Fortunately for me, many of my peers who were in my shoes just a year prior, were there to guide me through the process during recruitment season.

Their tips, tricks, must-dos, and cautions were a saving grace, giving me the edge I needed to secure interviews and bring me one step closer to my dream job.

Now, a year later, I am excited to be in a position to share what have learned.

Consulting resumé content

As an applicant, you need to focus on:

(1) Showcasing your excellent communication skills that were developed through school and work related experiences (e.g., class presentations, proposal writing etc.,)

(2) Consistently communicating your personal brand throughout your resumé. In other words, after someone reads your resumé, what do you want them to remember? (e.g., Jessica displays really great leadership and communication skills that she must have developed throughout…)

Describe your accomplishments

The structure of your resumé should be focused on describing your strengths and demonstrating how you provided insights and delivered tangible solutions to work and/or school related problems.

You should take every possible opportunity to assign some numerical value to the work you accomplished. For example:

Constructed a sales-focused website for Client X to homogenize their online and offline presence, resulting in an increase of 10,000 unique hits over the course of one month

When discussing your work and extracurricular experience, make certain you emphasize positions that highlight your leadership, people skills, communication skills and problem solving abilities. Consulting firms are looking for well-rounded, intelligent and driven students who excel both inside and outside of the classroom, so it’s a great idea to pull in examples from as many relevant activities as possible.

Leadership and people skills

Consulting is about working with people to solve complex problems, and firms want to know you can handle the tough interpersonal situations that arise in high-stress environments.

Provide examples of your exemplary leadership skills that have steered a team headed for failure to a successful outcome. Leaders must communicate and relate to their peers, so be sure to mention that your “Big Win” was not only a result of your strategic insights, but a harmonious mixture of your communication and interpersonal skills that delivered an enticing, well-received message.

Communication skills

Consultants are communicators. Aside from their strategic insights, their strengths lie in their concise yet very effective communication abilities.

Problem solving

Being a consultant is synonymous with being a problem solver. It is our job to understand the clients’ problem (this is where excellent listening skills come in handy), come up with innovative solutions and then communicate them to the client. Strong applicants are able to demonstrate situations where their problem solving capabilities have resulted in impactful contributions and measurable results. In your resumé, discuss situations that required you to move away from the traditional approach and find a more effective and efficient solution.

The best way to understand how a consulting resumé is structured is to go through different examples and pull insights, messaging, and structure to create a resumé unique for you. In terms of length, I used a one page resumé, but I have also heard of people using two.

 

Key tidbits I learned while wordsmithing my resumé:

Keep things concise: When proofreading your resumé, always ask yourself, “Is there a more concise way I can write this?” Chances are there is. Keep in mind that Harvard Business School MBA grads manage to fit their resumés onto one page – you probably can too.

Everything should add value: Make sure every sentence you write adds value to the overall goal of the passage. Apply the “so what” rule and eliminate phrases that do not sell your skills

The rule of three: If you can, group things into threes. For example:

By implementing a customer-focused expansion strategy, I was able to help Client X increase sales by 30%,  target new emerging markets and  retain existing customers

Proofread to avoid mistakes: Check, re-check, and then get someone else to proofread your resumé.  Mistakes involving spelling and grammar are an easily avoidable way to get cut from the applicant pool.

Don’t use lazy language: Provide dynamic and specific content throughout your resumé by using action verbs, the proper tense of verbs and an approach that encourages the reader to continue to investigate your qualification.

Tailor your resumé: Use descriptive language that is crafted to the position and assignment you are describing.

 

Below is an annotated example of a consulting resume for an undergraduate applicant: (Click here to download the .docx version)

 

Visit the Consulting Career Guide to learn more about careers in consulting, and find student and entry level consulting jobs from top employers.

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About the author

Jessica Konzelmann is a recent Science and Business graduate from the University of Waterloo. Throughout her undergraduate career, Jessica has worked as a project manager at a boutique marketing company, in sales and customer service at Petro-Canada and both international and local consulting firms. Her career path has led her to Deloitte, where she currently works in Toronto as a Business Analyst in the Strategy and Operations consulting practice.