A lot of people want to work at a (strategic) consulting firm, which means companies like McKinsey, BCG and Bain receive hundreds of applications a month. All these applications are read, or should I say scanned: they receive only a tiny fraction of attention each. Together with your resume, you’ll send your cover letter, which we already discussed a few weeks back.
The Consulting Resume
To craft the best consulting resume, we will revisit our post on the cover letter, as the basic dynamics are the same: you need to stand out compared to the rest of the 300+ candidates. If I see something I like on your resume, you might be invited to the interview. Resume selection is also an elimination process: if I see something I don’t like on your resume, you will probably end up on the ‘reject’ pile. Knowing how consulting firms use your resume is step one in getting invited to the next round.
Debunking the formatting myth
When talking about resume’s, you cannot avoid talking about formatting. Everyone worries about how to format their resume, which typeface they should use, whether they should include a picture, etc. The problem is: a beautiful layout is not going to hide your lack of experience. Even worse: distractions and odd layouts can make the reader/scanner miss some important points on your resume. That’s why I focus on effective formatting in my book: formatting is important, but only up to a certain point.
In the end your resume comes down to communicating your experience, achievements and skills. Effective formatting is a step in the right direction, but ultimately it’s the content that counts. Your resume is a pretty ‘dry’ summary of what you’ve achieved up until now and you should use your cover letter to flesh out some of your achievements and experiences. Still, you should craft the content with care: it should be easy for the reader to identify your key achievements and get a feel for who you are. In ‘Cracking the Case’ I elaborate on what makes you stand out, and supply you with a basic structure of resumes.