Consulting Resume Format: What Top-Tier Firms Are Looking For

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Many aspiring consultants are obsessed with how their resumes should be formatted. An effective consulting resume format is an attribute of a credible resume. However, there is more to it than font size, columns, and margins; how you present your content is the most critical aspect of formatting your resume.

Many different resume formats will work for a consulting resume, but the most important thing to consider is how you can effectively highlight your major accomplishments. As an aspiring consultant, you need to ensure that the format of your application is focused on showcasing your relevant qualifications such as communication, problem-solving, and leadership skills. The format of your resume should also communicate your personal brand consistently.

In constructing your consulting resume format, you need to know what top-tier firms are looking for. Recruiters check your resume for the following:

Complete Contact Information

Make it easy for screeners to find your contact details by placing them at the top of the page,  right below your name.  Include all relevant details that your target employer will need: your complete name, home address, email address, and contact numbers. It is also suggested to include the URL to your online portfolio or website, if you have one. Also, use a larger font for your name, and most importantly, make sure that the contact details you provide are accurate and functional.

Education Details

When listing your educational achievements, start with your most recent accomplishment. It is not necessary to include your high school honors and awards. Consulting resume screeners usually look for three important elements in this section of your application.

1. Renowned academic institutions

Top consulting firms give preference to applicants who graduated from an Ivy League or prestigious university because these credentials impresses their clients. However, candidates who did not graduate from Harvard or other reputable institution do receive offers from top consulting firms. But if you got it, make sure you flaunt it, as it will definitely help your candidacy.

2. Great academic performance

Top-tier firms want to know how you did in school. In other words, they are interested in how smart you are. If you don’t include your GPA on your resume, the recruiter will either ask you for it or assume that your GPA is low and assess your application accordingly. It is also important that you explain the grading system your school used if it’s not standard. You don’t want your target firm to interpret your grades incorrectly, particularly if your marks were high. In addition, many firms will ask fresh graduates for their transcript in order to see which quantitative classes the applicant has taken.

3. Impressive standardized test scores

Many consulting firms also want to see your standardized test scores—SAT, LSAT, GRE, GMAT, and MCAT. They use this information to gauge your mathematical ability. And as you probably know, strong math skills are critical to becoming a good consultant. Moreover, great math skills have been linked to the ability to think logically and analytically. Top consulting firms favor candidates with high standardized test scores, and although it’s not necessary to have a perfect score, including your high scores will impress recruiters, whether you’re a fresh graduate or an experienced professional.

Professional Experience

When finalizing your consulting resume format, take into consideration that resume screeners are basically looking for two things: quantifiable achievements and recognizable employer names. Yes, they value big brand names. (Think of McKinsey, Bain, or Boston Consulting Group). With these two things in mind, you should list your work experience in the following manner:

 Experience List your career experience in reverse chronological order or put the most recent job at the top, following the education section.
 Relevance Make sure employer details are easy to read. It is also best not to include work history that is beyond 10 years. Consider eliminating older positions and emphasizing your achievements in your latest employment positions. Most importantly, focus on the roles that are most relevant to consulting.
 Results Emphasize results, not just responsibilities. Responsibility doesn’t necessarily imply  accomplishment. Quantify your accomplishments by using numbers whenever possible. For instance, you should say, “Designed a marketing strategy for Client Z website, resulting in an increase of 20% in monthly revenue and generating 15,000 unique hits in one month.”

Skills and Extracurricular Activities

When discussing your skills and extracurricular experience, make sure you emphasize the roles and activities that highlight your leadership, communication, and problem solving skills. Consulting firms are not just looking for smart candidates; they are after well-rounded and driven individuals.

General Formatting Tips

Here are more tips on finalizing your consulting resume format:

Keep it short Your resume should be as concise as possible. Keep it to a single page if you’re a fresh graduate and a maximum of two pages if you are an experienced professional.
Use bullets These serve to effectively highlight important details as well as save space. The ideal number of bullets per job is two–four and one line long.
Use readable font style and size Recommended fonts are Arial and Times New Roman. Never use fancy fonts and keep the size to 11 or 12.
Boldface school names and employer names You don’t have to bold your job titles as most recruiters will look at the employer name first.
Emphasize impressive things Draw the recruiter’s attention to the most relevant and impressive parts of your resume. The point of a resume is to sell your abilities.
Use enough white space Don’t make it hard for the screener to read your resume. Avoid narratives and use as much white space as possible.
Employ proper margins Your resume’s margins should not be less than 0.5″, both vertical and horizontal. Anything less can be hard on the eyes. The standard layout is 1” margins.
Observe proper tenses Aside from using active words in your resume, use the proper verb tense—this type of mistake could negatively affect your candidacy.
Use suitable alignment Left alignment is best for a consulting resume. Using justify as alignment often leads to irregular spacing and uncomfortable reading.
Be consistent From line spaces between sections to bold texts and bullets, ensure you use uniform formatting throughout your resume. Also, make sure your resume is organized  and that the sections are clearly delineated.

The best consulting resume format is one that is geared towards highlighting relevant details. Tailor your resume using the guidelines above and you’ll be sure to catch the eye of any consulting resume screener.

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