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How to write the perfect consulting resume

The most comprehensive guide to the perfect consulting CV or resume. All the tips and examples you need to get invited for an interview in consulting. Write yours today!

Corinna

Niclas, Founder

Resumen overview

General resume information

The resume is probably the most important document which you need to create for your application. Not only does it showcase your previous experiences, extracurriculars, skills and awards, it also shows how well you can summarize your career into a compact form.

Furthermore, it is a great way to guide your interviewer through the different steps of your career and explain why you chose the positions that led you to this application. Therefore, you should take good care when preparing your resume. So let’s get started.

Length and style

There is a lot of debate about the length and format of resumes. We strongly recommend having a short and crisp one-pager. Only if you have more than 5 or 6 professional positions and more than 3 to 4 stops in your education, you may do a two pager. In consulting we always recommend a one-pager and rather include a project list along with your CV.

Never go above two pages with your consulting resume.  You want to be short and crisp to also show, that you can summarize your experience in a structured way.

There are lots of different templates out there, which you can use. Some colorful, some simple, some a little over the top. You can also create your own. If you want to save some time and make sure you have the right format, we recommend to start with our template.

Sections and their order

The order of the section on your resume also plays a role. You should always start with the most recent section on top. Should you be a student, this is most likely your education section. If you have done relevant internships during your studies, you can also start with those. Should you be a professional, you should definitely start with the experience section. Choose what seems most suitable for you. Here is a list of all the sections which we recommend including: 

  • Header
  • Professional experience section
  • Education section
  • Extracurricular & awards
  • Additional information

We will be describing all these sections in detail in the following.

Resume header

The header should contain your full name and up-to-date contact information. Ideally your contact information consists of your postal address, your mobile phone number, and your email address. 

CV resume header

The phone number should include the country code (e.g. +1 for the USA or +49 for Germany). Make sure if your phone number is registered on WhatsApp or any other messaging app, that you have that account sent to private or that the photo is appropriate in a professional context.

When inserting your email, make sure it is not turning blue and underlined like a hyperlink. It should be the same color as all the other text.

Picture time

You might want to include a photo in your resume or attach it as a separate document. Whether you are attaching a picture of yourself in the header is highly dependent on your region. For applications in Germany we usually attached a picture, but not for US applications. Please check with your regional standards.

Should you decide to include a picture, we recommend getting a professional photo shoot done prior to your application. A nice-looking picture is really important. If you do not include it in your resume, it should at least be used for your LinkedIn profile.

When you are entering the job market, you are officially creating a brand for yourself. And for brands the look and feel are one of the most important assets. The money you spend on a professional photographer is well worth it in the end.

Professional Experience Section

Once your header is nicely formatted, it is time to choose the most relevant section to start with – either the education section or the professional experiences section. Most commonly, people who apply in consulting start with the “Professional Experiences” section. 

In each section, you should sort your experiences by time, starting with the most recent one on top. The recruiter does not want to search for your current position at the bottom or in the middle of the resume.

The description of each position should be short and crisp. We recommend summarizing your tasks and responsibilities in bullet form, not going above 3 bullets per position and not going beyond 1 to 2 lines per bullet. The description should be long enough to highlight your accomplishments but short and crisp enough to not be boring or running above the page. For project-based positions such as in consulting, it might make sense to attach a separate project list to your resume.

To come up with great descriptions for your Professional Experience section you could ask yourself the following questions:

  • When did I achieve something really significant? 
  • Did someone take action based on my work?
  • Where did I change something? What was the impact?
  • Where did I show my brainpower?
  • Did my work win a price, new client, or any other form of recognition?
  • Where did I initiate something new?

Whenever it makes sense, try to quantify the impact your work had. For example, you could write: “Developed an improvement concept, which reduced cost by 10%”. The recruiter is looking for individuals which really have an impact with what they have been doing. 

To make your descriptions even more powerful, you can always start the bullet with the outcome. The sentence from above could be written in the following way: “Reduced procurement cost 10% by developing a price improvement concept”. 

When describing the positions, always start with the same type of word, e.g. verbs like Developed…, Supported…, Created… or nouns like ‘Implantation’ of… or ‘Development of’….  This makes the bullets easier to read and to comprehend.

To help you create your own amazing bullet points for your positions, let’s look at a couple of examples from recent cover letters. One candidate wrote:

Company XYZ

  • Management of 3 brands, one of which accounted for the whole national distribution.
  • Involved in the planning and implementation of the strategic entrance in the distribution,
    exceeding market share targets by 15%.

Let’s look how you could improve this. After a couple of iterations we came to the following result:

  • Managed the sales process of 3 brands, which maintained the national exclusivity of a product line by overachieving sales targets set by upper management
  • Independently developed a strategy with one of the major vendors which enabled him to exceed
    market share targets by 15% for a newly introduced product line

The second iteration is much better as it shows the ‘amazingness’ of the candidate. It is much more detailed than the first attempt, it starts with the same type of word, quantifies (“3 brands”, “exceeds targets by 15%”), and focusses on the entrepreneurial drive (“Independently…”)

Lets quickly summarize what we have learned:

  • Highlight most relevant section first
  • Sort experience chronological by time
  • Describe positions short and crisp
  • Add a max. of  3-5 bullets per position
  • Write maximum 1-2 lines per bullet
  • Quantify the impact your work had
  • Start each bullet with the same type of word
  • Hide most recent experience in body
  • Add long descriptions without content
  • Write more than 5 bullets per position
  • Craft bullets with more than 3 lines
  • State the obvious without proving impact

Once you have completed your Professional Experience section, we can move on to the Education section. Almost the same rules will apply there.

Education section

The education section can be structured very similarly to the professional experience section. Please include your education starting with your latest degree and going all the way back to high school. We recommend to not include any education before that. No recruiter is interested where you played in a sandbox.

You should include your school or university and type of degree in the heading of each position. You should also describe the education you received in detail. For each degree you should add focus areas and grades with local conversion scales in the bullets.

Ideally you were among the top 5 to 10% of your class. Top-tier consulting companies are usually looking to hire people who were among the best of what they were doing. If you were not, we recommend to get in touch with us, to think about strategies of how we can get your hired without being one of the very best.

Top-tier consultancies such as McKinsey or BCG, usually hire only the best of the best. Whether or not you are among the top 5-10% of your class, we highly recommend to sign up for our course, to increase your chances of getting an offer.

To help you fill your education section with life, we have compiled a couple of questions you can ask yourself, before filling the CV/ resume:

  • Where have I outperformed other students?
  • What initiatives did I take?
  • Did I complete any projects ? What was the impact?
  • What key area did I focus on?
  • Where did I show thought leadership?

Extracurricular & Awards

The last two sections are really important. Because everyone can be good at school, perform well in their work, but in the end the consultancies want to hire personalities. The “Extracurricular & Awards section and the “Additional information” section, are the place to highlight that you stand out. 

That is why in this section, you should add any scholarships or awards you received, student groups you were part of, extracurricular activities you have taken part in, or other special qualifications you might have acquired. To help you fill this section, you can ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Where am I active outside of work or school?
  • What leadership positions did I have outside of work or university?
  • What have I organized?
  • Which scholarships have I received?
  • Which clubs was I part of?
  • What have I written or published?

This section is a great way to show that you are a versatile candidate, who is interested in more than just school and good grades. Slipping in a fun fact here or there, can be a good way to be remembered.

We have prepared a comprehensive course for you, which has helped many students and professionals start out in consulting. Our team is dedicated to empowering you in your quest for an amazing career. Join our community of successful applicants today, by clicking on the green button on the left, or signing up for a FREE counselling call with one of our BCG consultants at the end of this post.

Additional information section

The last section in your resume is the so called “Additional information” section. Here you list your IT skills, which should include Microsoft Office applications and potentially some additional programs.

When assessing your language skills, please be realistic about your level of proficiency. The interviewer will most likely test you on your abilities. Being humble is key. We have had many candidates who claimed that they were good in French, but when the interviewer switched to French in the interview, they could not get a word out. Make sure you rate your skills adequately.

But additional information can go beyond languages and IT knowledge. Add something interesting about yourself. A fun fact can always be a great conversation starter. But remember to be honest and humble! If you write: “likes to read”, you should know your favorite 5 books. If you write avid marathon runner, you should have completed more than one marathon. You get the idea.

Here are some more questions to ask yourself, BEFORE filling the Additional Information section:

  • What languages do I speak?
  • Am I good at any sports?
  • Do I play any instruments? 
  • Do I read, write, or listen to any music?
  • Which other hobbies do I have?
  • What other relevant software do I know?
  • Do I code? What programming languages do I know?
  • What is my passion project?

Once you have answered some of these questions you can put them in your CV. Should you not immediately come up with a great story, you can take a couple of hours or days to brainstorm.

Viola! Once you have followed this guide, you have created a great resume. Time to double check your work for mistakes.

Some phrases to use and not to use

  • advises
  • compiles
  • critiques
  • coaches
  • designs
  • establishes
  • negotiates
  • oversees
  • upgrades
  • tries
  • supports
  • upon request
  • objectives
  • loves
  • responsibilites include
  • help

Perform a sanity check

When your resume is done, you should check the document for mistakes. We have prepared a checklist for you to go through. If that list is not enough, you can always reach out to us, and we will be happy to help.

Now go ahead and save the file as a PDF. Rename the file with a speaking file name including the current date, resume, and your last name. Congratulations! You have now successfully created a kick-ass resume, which is ready to send out to your prospective employers.

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