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Resumes & Cover Letters for Aspiring Consultants

Illinois Consulting Club Professional Development Workshop February 25, 2007

The Bottom Line

Recruiters spend as little as 30 seconds reviewing your resume for the first time Your resume must be:

Concise Results-oriented Clearly presented

Marketing: content and packaging Even with a stellar resume, you will still need to perform well on case interviews to land a job offer Consider practicing with ICC!


Top 10 Critical Skills sought by consulting recruiters Resume Tips Cover Letter Tips Additional Resources Q&A

Top 10 critical skills desired by consulting firms

Source: The Fast Track (M. Naficy)

Critical Skill #1: Team Player

Work in teams

Academics Extracurriculars Employment

Willing to help others; share credit

Where you can display it


Critical Skill #2: Communication

Ability to clearly articulate complex thoughts Writing is concise and logically organized Activities that involve written/verbal comm.

Teaching Journalism

Where you can display it

Cover letter and resume

Critical Skill #3: Interpersonal

Activities that involve interactions with others Work w/ people from a range of backgrounds

Volunteer work International experiences

Positive tone & tactful phrasing in cover letter

Where you can display it

Cover letter and resume

Critical Skill #4: Leadership

Elected leadership positions Entrepreneurial initiative Self-direction in ambiguous situations Persuaded others to take action Calculated risk-taking

Where you can display it


Critical Skill #5: Analytical

High GPA and/or rising trend in grades Analytical coursework or summer jobs Strong SAT or GMAT scores Logical presentation of credentials Where you can display it

Resume and cover letter Academic transcript

Critical Skill #6: Quantitative

Excellent grades in quantitative subjects

Math, physics (engineering) Accounting, finance, economics (business)

Experience involving quantitative analysis Where you can display it

Resume Academic Transcript

Critical Skill #7: Business Sense

Classes and extracurricular activities suggest a developing interest in business Conveys knowledge of industry and firm Exposure to major business and financial concepts through work experience Where you can display it

Cover letter and resume

Critical Skill #8: Capacity for Continuous Development

Upward trend in grades in challenging classes Humility; learning from mistakes Intellectual curiosity Advancement within a student organization Where you can display it

Resume and cover letter Academic transcript

Critical Skill #9: Motivation & Energy

Enthusiasm and bias for action Heavy academic load Juggled many activities on campus Part-time job during the semester Willing to work long hours Where you can display it

Resume and cover letter Academic transcript

Critical Skill #10: Integrity

Details on resume are consistent No exaggeration of accomplishments Following through on commitments No unprofessional or rude statements made in cover letter

Where you can display it

Resume and cover letter

Characteristics of Ideal Candidates

McKinsey & Co.

Individuals with comparatively strong records of academic and managerial or professional achievement who have the capacity for continuous development. Highly motivated individuals who possess excellent analytical and interpersonal abilities, a keen business sense, proven leadership skills, and a strong academic record.

Bain & Co.

Source: Killer Consulting Resumes! (WetFeet Insider Guide)

Resumes for Consulting

The Firms Perspective

Your resume is often their first impression of you as a candidate The resume has one primary purpose

Determine which candidates deserve interviews

Is this candidate interested in consulting, and specifically in our firm? Does this candidate have experience in the industry of my current client? How soon could this person be staffed?

The 1-page resume

If you cant reduce your resume to 1 page, I immediately think you are unable to tell the important from the trivial, which is a death sentence for a consultant. Vice President at a top-tier consulting firm

Source: Killer Consulting Resumes! (WetFeet Insider Guide)

Traditional resume format

Im always suspicious when I see a skills-based resume. I feel like I have to make a leap of faith. I prefer to see experience that illustrates skills Im looking for. I hate reading skills resumes. -Consultants at leading firms

Use a reverse chronological format

Source: Killer Consulting Resumes! (WetFeet Insider Guide)

Formatting a Consulting Resume

Education Experience

Reverse chronological order Bullet-points and key takeaways, not dense prose Active, rather than passive, voice Use buzzwords & industry jargon with caution Activities, Additional, or Personal Avoid cliches such as travel, reading, running, etc.


Resume Tips

Use numbers where appropriate to describe your accomplishments

Avoid vague qualitative terms: large many

Present two or three strengths and back them up with experience & achievement

Not necessary to be a jack-of-all-trades Avoid dramatic, self-congratulatory language

State your accomplishments objectively

Resume Mistakes

Objective statement at the top Job descriptions rather than results Weak verbs to describe accomplishments Listing experiences where you are unable to recall the details Political or religious viewpoints Any spelling or grammatical errors

Consultants are notoriously detail-oriented

Cover Letters for Consulting

Cover Letters

Introduce a resume Personalized explanation of interest in consulting and the particular firm More important when resume submitted directly, rather than on-campus recruiting Can the candidate write clearly & concisely? Convey professionalism & enthusiasm Address potential concerns of the recruiter

An effective consulting Cover Letter

Position to which you are applying Primary reason for your interest in consulting and specific role at the firm Concise overview of 1 or 2 qualifications that make you a compelling candidate

These could be accomplishments that are not explicitly included in your resume

Availability (graduation date) Logical next steps

Could be a brief telephone conversation

Cover Letter Tips Name drop

Address the cover letter to a recruiter or consultant by name

Typically, different recruiters for undergraduates, MBAs, and advanced-degree candidates

Tell that person who referred you or how you obtained their contact information Recruiters more apt to review your credentials if you were referred by a respected coworker

Cover Letter Tips Due Diligence

What initiated your interest in the firm?

Industry or functional practice specialty An article or book written by a consultant An informational interview

WetFeet and Vault both publish books aimed to provide an insiders perspective on consulting and investment banking firms

Cover Letter Mistakes

Reiterating your entire resume in prose

Resume and cover letter are complementary

Recruiter will interpret this as lack of interest

Sending an impersonal form letter

Addressing your letter Dear Sir or Madam or To Whom it May Concern

Find out the name of the recruiter and their title Busy recruiter will end up skimming it

Excessive length


Identify a consultant within the firm that you have something in common with

UIUC alumnus Same undergraduate major or grad research Common extracurricular interests Informational interview (phone or in-person) Consultant may pass your resume to a recruiter with a positive recommendation

Contact this person

Resources Books

Killer Consulting Resumes! (WetFeet, 2005) The Fast Track: The Insiders Guide to Winning Jobs in Management Consulting, Investment Banking, & Securities Trading (Mariam Naficy, 1997) Get the Interview Every Time (Brenda Greene, 2004) The Overnight Resume (Donald Asher, 1999)

Electronic Resources


UIUC students can freely download PDFs http://www.business.uiuc.edu/bcs Enter email address to receive temp password


Also available through Business Career Services username: illinois password: business

Upcoming ICC Events


Case Interview Practice

Sunday, March 4th, 3 PM in 245 Wohlers Mock interviews in pairs; HBR case discussion

2 Tools for Integrating New Venture Consulting and Formation

Sunday, March 11th, 3 PM in 245 Wohlers Lecture given by Dr. Peter Hackbert, scholar in the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership