The Resume

Your resume is one of the most important points of reference used by consulting firms to judge your intellectual and corporate capabilities. Therefore, expect to spend a lot of time on it.

Why the resume?

At top schools, consulting firms will interview as many as 40% of the class to make offers to 10% of those they interview. Between 50% and 80% of this interview list will consist of closed list, or invited candidates. Invitations to dinners, case workshops, and the closed list all originate from your resume (although, granted, other forces, such as networking and recommendations, can come into play).

What makes a strong resume?

Consider this: Top consulting firms will review 200-400 resumes from top schools to identify students that they wish to get to know further. The recruiting team (usually consisting of HR and consulting staff, typically alumni) will scan through all of the resumes, trying to identify top performers in multiple areas:

The average resume review will be 45 seconds long. If your resume does not stand out within the first 10 seconds, your chances of getting marked as a high-potential candidate diminishes.

Analytical skills

Proving you are analytically competent is usually a numbers game. Do you have a high GMAT? A high undergraduate GPA? A high MBA GPA (if allowed to disclose)? While one can argue that having high numbers in these areas is not an indicator of analytical ability, it is an easily comparable value. If your GPA is high (3.6/4.0 or greater) or your GMAT is high (730 or above), show them. The higher they are, the more prominently you should display them in your resume.

Your work experience also tells a story of your ability to do the analytical work involved in consulting. Do you have an engineering, math, statistics or computer science degree? Have you done engineering or other problem solving work after school? Did you work in a problem-solving environment and have measurable success to show for it? Specific education and work experience bullet points can help justify your ability to do the analytical work.

Leadership and client communication skills

Highlight any high-level interactions that you have had with clients or management. A statement such as "Presented findings to Senior Vice President of Finance", for example, can have a good amount of impact in a resume scan.

Interesting personalities

Typically resumes these days will have an 'additional' section that highlights interests of the candidate. These can be an eye-catcher and are a great place to mention your passions. Beware: *everybody* these days mentions travel as one of their passions, then proceeds to list several interesting destinations. Unless someone reading your resume has been to or has a desire to go to one of the places mentioned, he or she probably will not find this too distinguishing.

Making a good resume

This takes time. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to write a version, revise it, and repeat. Test it out with as many people as you can - people in your class, in classes ahead of yours, and so on. Just like your business school essays, your first version will probably not feel very good. Use the campus resources at your disposal: career centers, coaches, advisors, and so on. Keep iterating on this process until you begin to get conflicting advice; at that point, make a gut call and call it a day.

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