5 Tips to An Outstanding Post-College Résumé For a Consulting Job (especially for atypical backgrounds)

  • April 2015
  • Posted By Janet Muto

Consultants come from all walks of life, but why does it feel that your peers with the typical management degrees seem to get hired over you? I am living proof (with my mildly relevant urban planning degree) that you can make your atypical background work for you. Here are 5 simple and helpful tips to optimizing your résumé so that you can get your foot in the door to interview at a consulting firm and ultimately,become a breakout consultant.
#1 Be meaningful. Cool, you worked at Google. But tell me, what did you do there? Name dropping bigname companies, unless they are stated as your prospective employer’s client roster, doesn’t quite impress companies as much as the work you did during your tenure. Remember that the quality of your examples will speak volumes over the quantity, and that the latter could seriously hamper your chances as a qualified job prospect.
#2 Be succinct. A good story consists of you painting a scenario of your company and the business challenges (context), what you (not your teammates) specifically did (action) in order to result in a quantifiable difference on the business (impact). If you can’t describe your work experience in 3 bullet points either because you feel it’s “too complicated” or you don’t understand your impact, then you should exclude that experience from your résumé.
I find most people are most stuck on the impact bullet point, either because their tenure was too short to follow the progress of their work or because they don’t understand the broader context of work. To address the first barrier, I would strongly suggest calling your former boss to ask what happened to your project. This will not only get you a better and more quantifiable read on your work’s impact, but it will also help you maintain a relationship with your former employer. As for not being certain whether you did make an impact, this is your time to exercise some creativity and think more broadly how your actions rolled up to a top company priority, even if it is a bit of a stretch.
#3 Be choiceful. On average, let’s say a one page résumé can hold 400 words. That’s not a lot of space to tell your story, which brings even more pressure to find the right words. In addition to choosing the most relevant work experiences, I also recommend using strong action verbs and colorful adjectives that pack a punch. For example, “Initiated market research to understand consumer perspectives of the brand” could be dressed up to say “Brainstormed, executed and codified 7 new-to-company market research techniques to bring the consumer to life for the 250 person marketing division


#4 Be relevant. A senior Google executive cannot believe that most people don’t put the right content on their résumés.” I agree. In a pile of résumés, the easiest way to cut the stack in half is to remove the cookie-cutter résumés. Once, I had an aerospace engineer who was interested in applying for a junior consultancy role whose résumé was littered with references to jet propulsion modeling and systems engineering jargon. It made me question – What does this have to do with consulting? Does the candidate even know what qualifications we are looking for? Remember, one size does not fit all for résumés. I would propose that you create different versions of résumés and cover letters fordifferent industries, not only mixing and matching your work experiences but also rewriting the actions and impacts within each header.
#5 Be unique. I don’t necessarily think submitting a scented, pink résumé (á la Legally Blonde) is the best way to stand out amidst a stack of résumés, and may even appear gimmicky. But, I do think it is important to find a way to express your individuality – whether it’s in the design and format of your résumé or adding hyperlinks to websites or adding fun facts about yourself. Just remember to believe that your different background will be an asset to the company.
The job search process is all about fit. Both you and the company need to believe it will be a match of your skill sets and ambitions with the work and experience level required for the company to be successful. Truthfully, some companies just aren’t structured to take on someone with your atypical background. But it’s your job to make the hiring manager wanting to know more about you and think you’re just a kick-ass person.


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