How to Write a Resume to Land an Interview at the Top Consulting Firms
In this article, we walk you through the three most important aspects to think about when preparing your resume for McKinsey, BCG, Bain or other top consulting firms. If you want to understand each of these points in more detail, including how to use networking to your advantage and what the application process really looks like inside the firms, sign up for one of our Consulting Resume Courses here.
Use the right layout
The recruiter assessing your resume will make their decision based on a quick scan, so you need to present a clean and professional format that’s well structured and highlights your best experiences.
Your layout needs to be clean and professional, so no logos, no pictures, no graphs, and no emojis. Use a plain white background and a black, conservative font—There should be no colour. Make sure that all titles and paragraphs are vertically aligned. Use only one font, with no more than a couple of different sizes. Avoid underlining, and only use bold and italic sporadically.
We recommend one page for students and up to two pages for experienced professionals. For students, you should have four sections in the following order: education, work and research experience (if applicable), leadership roles, and additional skills and activities. We suggest a slightly different order in our FREE Resume Course for Experienced Professionals available here.
Within each section, create a new header for each of your employers or education institutions and nest all of the jobs or degrees you completed with that employer or institution within the same header. This way, if you have completed several internships or degrees at the same place, you will be able to show this without repeating yourself. If your employer is not well known, then you should introduce it in a positive light to provide a context for the reader. This only needs to be one sentence.
Include the right content
Including the right content is critical to providing the recruiter with evidence that you possess all the necessary attributes. Therefore, it’s worth considering what the firms are actually looking for in a candidate.
Overall, they want to know whether or not they want this candidate on their team. They want to know whether the candidate can problem-solve, if they can get things done, and how they represent the firm. There are four attributes that you want to demonstrate: top academics and numeracy, stand out job experience, people skills, and impact. It’s okay to not stand out in all four dimensions, as long as you stand out in some.
Keep these attributes in mind when choosing what content to include.
With that being said, in a resume, less is more. You should only include items that are impressive or necessary to understand your experience. Don’t be afraid to remove irrelevant or old experiences to create space for more impactful content.
Be smart with the language you use
The easiest way to check the effectiveness of your language is to use the four C’s of written communication: clarity, concision, completeness, and consistency.
For clarity, this means taking into account that you need to be understood by someone who has no prior knowledge of your background. We recommend using everyday language with short familiar words and no lingos or acronyms.
For our purposes, concision means limiting each bullet point to two lines maximum. You will also need to strip your resume of filler words and repetition. This is important because recruiters are unlikely to read bullet points that are longer than two lines.
To get your point across clearly, include all the information necessary for the reader to fully understand. Sometimes, this means that a bit of context is required. This is what we mean by completeness.
To be consistent, we recommend applying the same sentence structure throughout, such as starting all bullet points with an active verb in the past tense. Always use the same punctuation to close bullet points.
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We’ve only touched the surface of what to consider when writing a stand-out consulting resume. We share a lot more detail, templates and examples in our FREE Resume Courses available here.
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