1. Be concise.
In terms of page count (keep it to 1 page unless you are well into your career and have ~10+ years of professional experience), accomplishments (your resume will not be an exhaustive list - include only your accomplishments that are most relevant to the job), and wording (make sure each word matters, it’s valuable real estate on your resume!).
2. Use clean formatting.
First and foremost, your resume should be easy to read. Make sure your heading has sufficient space (nothing will turn a reader away faster than something cramped and crowded), and that your resume follows a standard, easy-to-navigate structure. See these examples and this article for more guidance.
3. Be error-free and consistent.
This one sounds obvious, but make sure to proof your resume for spelling and grammar. Also, check for consistency in the language (for example, NYC v. NY, NY v. New York City, NY) and formatting (for example, spacing, alignment, bullet size). You can also use a site like grammarly.com as an additional way to error-proof your resume.
4. Structure your resume.
We recommend 5 sections if you’re a student or recent graduate: Header, Education, Work Experience, Additional Experience (e.g., volunteer or extracurricular experiences), and Skills & Interests. Experienced hires can streamline this to 4 sections: Header, Work Experience, Education, Skills & Interests. We have a whole article dedicated to what to include in each section if you want more information.
5. Demonstrate hard and soft skills.
As you’re deciding which accomplishments to highlight, make sure that you demonstrate the range of skills that consulting firms look for. You’ll want to highlight your analytical skills and comfort with data, but also examples of collaborating with or presenting to an audience. See this article for the set of skills that firms look for and how to best include them.
6. Use a range of action verbs.
Begin each bullet with an action verb. This is an easy way to ensure consistency and (more importantly) demonstrate your skills and ownership. See this list for ideas. Also, remember that your resume is your first chance to convey your communication skills to the firm. Utilize a range of languages even if you are highlighting similar skills. Essentially, don’t start every bullet with “developed.” Instead, try “created,” “established,” or “determined.”
7. Always, always include the outcome.
It is easy to write a resume that lists the activities you completed, rather than the outcomes you drove. Each bullet should read “action completed...resulting outcome.” Remember to think about the bigger impact of your work. What did your manager do with the analysis you completed? What did collecting survey responses enable the team to accomplish? See this article for more guidance.
8. Ask “can I quantify this?”
Readers’ eyes naturally gravitate toward numbers. They easily and clearly communicate the gravity of something, whether it is your GPA, the size of a team you led, or the amount of savings you helped drive. Try to quantify your accomplishments whenever possible (and, of course, within reason).
9. Have interesting interests.
Interests will use a precious line on your resume. Use this space well and make your interests specific and, well, interesting. This is a space to demonstrate how you spend your time outside of work and school and a great opportunity to highlight non-professional accomplishments (think winning an art competition or leading a wilderness retreat). These are a great way to catch someone’s eye and spark a memorable conversation.
10. See if anything begs explanation.
After you have drafted your resume, look through it to see if anything begs explanation. For example, if your major is “Interdisciplinary Studies” include a brief description in parentheses or a line below. Similarly, if you interned in a non-name brand company, consider a one-line description of the company. Lastly, make sure to avoid overly technical or industry-specific language, unless, of course, you are applying to a specialized role or firm. A few examples:
Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (self-designed major covering Economics, Social Psychology, and Mathematics)
Charleston Mayson LLC
Boutique management consulting firm focused on the healthcare industry
If you follow these steps, you'll be well on your way to a successful resume that can beat the competition.