Three ways to prepare your resume for the perfect consulting job
The nature of a career in consulting means that a fantastic resume is all but essential. While some consultants spend decades in and around the same employer, many take on roles to complete specific tasks before moving on to pastures new. As such, a consulting resume often gets more mileage than most.
However, while there are plenty of roles to go around, there are numerous great consultants too. So, whether you want to work with a consulting firm for the long term or fill a gap in your diary, an outstanding resume remains the best way to make a fantastic first impression.
The nature of the role also means that one of the most significant challenges facing anyone when putting their resume together is fitting their vast experience into a relatively limited space. The solution is often being selective and focusing heavily on the experiences and achievements that matter in a specific role. After all, if you've got an eye on a financial consulting job, they're likely less interested in your successful deployment of a new software system.
As with most resumes, it's all about tailoring your documentation to the task at hand. You're looking to tell the recruiter enough to get yourself a seat at the interview table without leaving you short of impressive follow-ups once the interview takes place.
Here are three ways to ensure that your resume stands out ahead of the pack, no matter the consulting role.
1. Position yourself as a consulting expert in every resume section
While you might have skills in numerous areas, most hiring managers aren't looking for generalists. They already have competent employees on staff that know a little about a lot. When the time comes to call on a consultant, they usually have a project in mind with specific goals. As such, they're on the lookout for someone that has been there and done that.
That's not to say you should break with tradition when compiling your resume. You should still endeavor to use the reverse chronological format, listing your experience starting with the most recent role. However, you shouldn't look to take up valuable space with irrelevant information.
Fortunately, many consulting roles draw on the same skills, even if the specific task is somewhat different. While many consulting roles involve significant time spent working alone, they also lead to collaboration at various stages throughout the process. They also include providing direction, defining and solving problems, and tangible outcomes.
While it can be somewhat time-consuming to keep a resume up to date in this way, it's time well spent, especially for frequent applicants.
Essentially, there are two choices. First, you can tailor your resume for each job description, which might lead to the most significant chances of success. Alternatively, you can generalize your experience to ensure it applies to every potential role.
No matter how you approach it, try to ensure that every skill and experience on the page justifies its inclusion and brings you a genuine step closer to landing the job.
2. Demonstrate personal development
An outstanding consulting resume doesn't only focus on the present. There's a reason why most consultants don't settle on it as a career straight after their education. In many cases, they need to work in a preferably specialized role to get to grips with the working world and the nuances of their areas of expertise.
Recruiters want to hire consultants that are demonstrably better today than they were a few years ago. They expect the latest tools and techniques and a rounded approach to solving whatever problems they require a consultant for. That's part of the reason why you should list your experience in reverse chronological order, as outlined above. It's also a reason to incorporate whatever you can to demonstrate that you're a modern practitioner in your field.
For example, most consultants will have a bachelor's degree in a relevant field. This is because that's considered the minimum point of entry for most consulting careers. However, suppose you've hypothetically positioned yourself as a consultant in the fields of artificial intelligence or blockchain, and you achieved your degree a decade ago. In that case, you'll need more to verify that you're up to the task.
This can often be demonstrated through experience, but if you've undertaken further education or gained additional certifications, ensure you include this in the relevant section and discuss how it's guaranteed that you're entirely up to date.
3. An outstanding consulting resume focuses on results
Consulting is a results-driven business. Of course, you're aware of that, but you need to let the recruiter know that you're all about meeting targets and leaving a company in better shape than when you arrived.
Try to steer clear of demonstrating knowledge unless it's particularly relevant to the role. Instead, look to provide real-world examples of success that a recruiter can quickly transfer to their own business. Remember, they have a task at hand and need specialist help. They're not necessarily looking for someone that understands the theory behind getting it done. They want someone that's done it, or something similar, before and has the results to prove it.
If you've improved sales or productivity and can assign a number to that improvement, do it. If you landed specific contracts for the business on the back of your problem-solving, namedrop with pride.
The consulting industry is highly competitive, although the good news is that the number of available roles is expected to rise. Anyone currently working in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, data analytics, or an entire range of growing disciplines can expect not to be short of opportunities in the future.
However, landing those roles all starts with a great consulting resume, and evidence that you're a pleasure to work with, and all but guaranteed to get the job done will ensure your pick of the most desirable roles.