Management Consulting Prep

Management Consulting 101 Ultimate Management Consulting CV Guide And Example

It seems like writing consulting CV is the “easier” part of the recruiting process ‘cause we have all the time in the world to do it. But make no mistake about it. Everybody else also has that luxury and that makes the bar for your CV extremely high. So how to stand out from a big group of other candidates who also have all the time in the world polishing and fine-tuning their CVs?

  A quick glance

  1. Value in Management Consulting CV
  2. How to present Management Consulting CV
  3. Layout of a Management Consulting CV

Putting your complicated life into one page in a concise, attractive, and easy-to-follow way is a difficult art! This is somewhat similar to one of the most frequent tasks every consultant faces: putting all the findings and recommendations into concise slides that resonate with clients’ hearts and intrigue them to take actions.

We will start off with some basic principles then walk you through a bunch of tips needed for writing this masterpiece.

There is a lot to talk about. Let’s get started!.

Chapter 1: What Makes A Successful Consulting CV?

A quick and lazy answer to that is: screeners have to feel like they are reading from a consultant. How to do that? Let’s explore this via 3 dimensions: Value, Presentation and Layout.

-VALUE-

Every judgment system needs a set of standard for all scores to be based on. Consulting is a very unique industry and therefore that “scoring standard” is quite different from conventional way. So the very first step to begin your consulting CV creation is to understand the values that consulting firms cherish, then ensure every inch, every phrase and every word of your consulting CV must be directly tied to those values.

What are some most important consulting values? You can find this information on every firm’s website, but they are not always easy to read and understand. Sometimes, consulting firms like to use buzz and big words. To me, it all comes down to three big items below:

  • Achieving (or result-oriented): Do you have such a strong desire to strive for the better? Do you have such a strong drive to pass through adversities to make things happen? Consulting job is very tough. Being good is not enough, because it’s difficult on some level for everyone. All successful consultants I know are very “achieving”. In CV, this is evaluated through the lenses of results, what you have done and how difficult those tasks were!
  • Problem-solving: Sometimes I just simply call this “content skill”. Can you make great consulting content? Can you effectively break down, analyze, and solve problem of various formats in various situations? Problem solving can be easily shown in case interview, but to show it in CV is such a subtle art. We mostly do it indirectly through the way you describe your tasks and partially through the way to present yourselves.
  • Leadership: When you become a consultant, you are like a general on the battlefield. Even as a new-entry, you already have control of a number of resources, and expectations around you. Can you manage all of those flying pieces and make them all work for you to deliver the best output? Can you deliver the outcome much greater than your own capability? Can you leverage others? Leadership is always the core value that consulting firms looking for. Showing leadership in your CV is much more than including some cliché words like “lead” or “leadership” that everybody uses. The best way is to show them implicitly and through the results. We will discover more of that latter in this article.

So, in a sense, even though on the surface you are telling about your background and experiences, what we all really try to say between the lines are:

  • I am super achieving
  • I have excellent problem-solving skill
  • I am a natural leader

Next, we will show you how to do that!

-PRESENTATION-

So, implicitly, through our presentation, how do we show off our consulting values? Here are some very important items.

Notice: you will find that some of the following items may overlap. That’s ok. It should feel good to write a sentence that incorporates all of the following elements so well that it feels overlapping.

  • Specific: Use the specific terms, details and descriptions to help recruiters understand what you have done, how it has been solved, what the results are, and why they make you stand out. Consulting has a bad allergy with those are too generic and meaningless. Even though you feel like you are already very specific, there are still tiny details you can make your sentence even more specific. The more specific, the more consulting-like it sounds and of course the better chance your screener will like you.

Look at this writing illustration:

“Organized educational exhibitions to promote for universities in the UK and interacted with the local press”

That may cause few questions immediately pop up in the screener’s head:

  • What role did you take? Are you the leader or participant?
  • What was the outcome? Were those exhibitions successful?
  • How did your organized exhibitions increase universities’ popularity?
  • How can it make you stand out? What was the unique experience you gained?

Instead of this writing try to convey by this way:

“Leader of five 4-member teams in organizing educational exhibitions to promote 12 universities in the UK, which has interacted with over 2000 people within 3 days.

You can see that by specifying the details of work, your consulting values are shown much better. Also, notice that being specific is not just about putting our number. You should be specific in qualitative information as well.

  • Result-oriented: In case interview, interviewers often focus more on the process and methodology than the actual outcome. Don’t be mistaken that the result is not important. In consulting, we like people with structure and systematic approach that deliver! In CV, it is essential to show off the specific, measurable, and easy-to-comprehend outcomes in every single work you tell.

For example, please take a look at this description:

“Developed database and customer response program for top campaigns in company over 12 months”

This is a very common mistake. There are two kinds of KPI or measurements that you can use no matter what the work you have done: quality and quantity. Whenever you write a job description, try to list out these factors and benchmark it with historical data or other data. Benchmarking is an extremely helpful tool to evaluate your outcomes, so don’t forget to use it on your CV.

This is the “result-oriented” version:

“Developed database and customer response program for top campaigns for the first time in company history which led to 50% increase in referrals over last 12 months (30%)”

Notice that both the qualitative and quantitative side of the results is shown.

We do understand that there are some kinds of jobs with unclear measurements and hard to evaluate accurately. However, by rethinking about their purpose, there are always some grounds to make it more result-oriented, either qualitatively or quantitatively.

  • Clean and easy to follow: Writing CV bullets is very similar to writing consulting slides. The more insights we can tell through fewer and more simple words, the better. Try to avoid complicated terminology except you are sure that it helps you emphasize strengths. Even smart people prefer reading easy-to-follow text. Unclean and heavy words can frustrate screeners to evaluate your CV, and probably can close your door to the dream job.

Look at some examples of real case we have been enhancing:

“Identified and characterized hotspots of microbial methane oxidation and surface reduction at several mud volcanoes in the Eastern Mediterranean”

This quoted description was from a candidate with scientific background. Even though the work was so impressive, he forgot that his CV audiences are not scientists, thus trying to impress via big projects is not a perfect one. They, strict screeners, just want to see everything on their lenses, clean and comprehensive.

This description can be translated to another easier language like:

“Identified and characterized microbial hotspots of several Eastern Mediterranean mud volcanoes”.

Two important changes we made are: (1) eliminate difficult words that the sentence doesn’t really need and (2) rephrase the sentence to make it shorter without changing its meaning.

It’s not the perfect bullet written yet, but at least it’s much cleaner and easier to read.

Last, you should remember to avoid the grammar and spelling mistakes. This is very obvious but please put some mind into this. There’s no easier way to get your CV thrown out than this. Nobody wants to see the carelessness of future consultants. 

-LAYOUT-

By now hopefully, you know how to write bullet as good as possible. The next step is to learn how to structure the whole CV and makes every parts fit together.

There are 2 key concepts you need to remember for utilizing those great resources:

  • Less is more: Try to determine highlight points related to 3 values mentioned before in each job you have accomplished. The mindset I want you to have throughout is: “How can I tell more on just one page?” .. as oppose to “How do I fill up this one page?”

Every word, every phrase, every bullet, every session must show something.

Let’s have a glance at some illustrations.

Jul – Sep 2010   Siam Bank – Department of Payment, Accounting and Services: Summer analyst

    • Studied the process of preparing the letter of credit
    • Assisted in risk management and issuing the letter of credit
    • Checked all documents in such contracts; maintained customer relationship.

As you can see, the candidate has not shown any core value through all bullet points. So even with up to 3 bullets, I am not that impressed reading this.

DISH Network Corp., Englewood, Colorado      July 2013 – Present

Senior Program Manager, Corporate IT Operations

Middle management role in the IT Project Management Office overseeing IT infrastructure operations, firm-wide construction activities and managing 50+ Engineers across eight divisions

  • Identified process improvement opportunities in the project management life cycle in the first week on the job with 25% savings in production costs, rewarded with the appointment as project manager on two high profile projects to implement process improvements
  • Appointed project manager for a change management project requiring CIO level coordination; project impacts 80% of the firm (20,000+ employees) with a project budget of $8MM

Now we got here a candidate with a great result oriented mindset and perfect consulting tone. Even though he showed less work, the association with core value is extremely stronger. You can identify easily the problem solving, leadership and achieving value through this work, which was express via clean and comprehensive writing. The bullet point is to distinguish to the title and easy to follow.

  • Unbalanced paragraph: This happens when you worked in 2 companies and one of them overwhelm the other. It is ok to emphasize on one job more than the other but don’t overkill it. It makes the CV looks unbalanced and somehow non-MECE.

The above principles are important and vital that you should keep in mind. Consulting is a tough job, but it’s worth! So put the hard endeavor into it, you will receive the best. Next, the following chapter, we will have an illustration of a real and qualified CV from an ex-McKinsey consultant, hope that you can deeply understand all the provided principles.

Read the chapter 2 of this series here featuring more tips & tricks on management consulting CV!

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