Writing a consulting resume without relevant work experience can be a daunting task. However, knowing how to leverage your existing skills and present them compellingly lets you demonstrate how you meet a consulting job description and grab a hiring manager’s attention.
Understanding the key attributes required for a successful consulting career, identifying transferable skills, and a stellar resume format are essential for creating an entry-level consulting resume that turns heads.
Below, we’ll explain how to write an impactful resume for each application, even if you don’t have employment experience.
Understand the Consulting Landscape
Business consultants collaborate with managers to improve a company’s operations, reach, and productivity. As an entry-level consultant, your work can help start-ups hit the ground running, support growing businesses to expand or identify and fix operational issues holding back established companies.
Therefore, the industry requires strong leaders with excellent critical thinking skills who can solve challenges creatively.
Before you start writing your entry-level consulting resume, understanding the skills recruiters typically look for is vital for catching the attention of hiring managers. It can be tempting to guess in-demand skills to save time, but you risk your resume coming across as too general.
Typically, the following skills are critical for most entry-level roles…
- Verbal and written communication
- Strategic thinking
- Risk management
However, some in-demand competencies are job-specific. Sending out a generic consultancy resume for every application can speed up the process, but being specific about what makes you a great candidate for a particular role can help you stand out.
Therefore, it’s worth reading job ads thoroughly and noting the required skills before tailoring your resume for each position. Pay particular attention to skills that appear more than once — repetition indicates that the company particularly values these abilities.
You should also take some time to review the company’s website and socials, particularly their ‘about us’ page.
Getting a sense of the company culture, values, and mission statement is a great way to further personalize your resume and show them exactly why you’d be a great addition to the team.
Another factor to consider is the prevalence of screening software to find the most suitable candidates.
Often, hiring managers use software to scan for skill-based keywords before your resume ever lands on the desk of an actual human. Noting the language used and mirroring it in your resume boosts the odds of your application making the cut and landing you that all-important interview.
Emphasize Transferable Skills
Once you’ve determined the attributes your potential employer wants, it’s time to find examples demonstrating these skills from your previous experience. Often, this process is more straightforward if you have some employment experience already under your belt.
That being said, don’t assume that working in a different sector makes your skills irrelevant — most jobs require at least some of the core attributes necessary to succeed in consulting.
For example, you could focus on times when you showed strong leadership, solved problems, or leveraged your communication skills to achieve a goal.
Ideally, you should back up these examples with concrete metrics to demonstrate your abilities and make your resume more compelling. Statistics such as customer satisfaction ratings, sales increases, or productivity metrics all work well.
Consider the best section to place your experiences and skills on your resume. Generally, you’ll list most of your relevant skills in your work experience bullets.
However, including any skills you’ve identified as being particularly important to a potential employer in your resume objective or professional summary shows your suitability for the role at first glance.
In the skills section of your resume, try to emphasize any hard skills (or technical abilities) you may have that are valuable to the role, such as experience with specific software.
Ensure any experience you list is relevant to the job you’re applying for. Including unnecessary information may pad your resume, but it can also create confusion and indicate a poor grasp of the consulting industry landscape.
Also, focus on your achievements as well as your responsibilities. Detailing the impact of your skills shows hiring managers the value you can bring to their team.
Detail Relevant Coursework
The education section of your resume is particularly crucial when you’re applying for a consulting role without experience, especially if you have a short work history.
If you have experience from your education that’s relevant to consulting, include details of your coursework in your resume to show potential employers how you meet their requirements even as an entry-level consultant.
You can either list relevant coursework as bullet points under your degree in your education section or create a separate section devoted to job-specific courses.
A dedicated section works better when you have little relevant work experience because it allows you to expand on how your education has prepared you for work in consulting.
Include Volunteer Experience and Extracurricular Activities
While demonstrating transferable skills can be more challenging if you’re fresh out of college, most graduates have experience in educational and extracurricular activities. These activities often require similar competencies to a consulting career.
Part-time jobs, internships, and clubs and societies frequently call for strong communication, leadership, and other attributes that make a great entry-level consultant.
Don’t overlook volunteering or extracurricular experience in favor of previous employment. If you can’t find compelling examples of crucial consulting skills from your paid roles, including information about other activities lets you fill skills gaps and make your application more well-rounded.
Create a sub-header for each volunteering or extracurricular role under your experience subheading to keep your resume organized and allow you to expand on relevant skills in bullet points.
Where possible, describe the impact of your skills on critical outcomes for the organization. For example, you could explain how your leadership skills helped improve membership in a college club or society.
Ensure Your Resume is Well-Structured
Structure is crucial for keeping your resume well-organized and relevant. Without it, you risk missing essential information.
A well-structured resume signposts hiring managers to important information and allows them to establish your suitability for the job quickly. While formatting expectations sometimes vary between industries, all consulting resumes should include the following sections…
Contact Information – Your name, a professional email address, and phone number.
Resume Summary – A brief description of your most relevant skills and achievements.
Work Experience – A list of your previous roles, starting from the most recent, with a sub-header for each job followed by bullet points detailing your responsibilities. You can use volunteer or extracurricular roles if you don’t have previous work experience.
Education – Your highest degree, school’s name and location, major, and graduation date.
Skills – A bulleted list of skills related to the job you’re applying for.
Premade resume templates are the easiest way to create a slick, well-formatted resume. These templates contain headers to prompt you to include all your essential information and allow you to tailor the format to add extra sections to suit each role.
They can also help you avoid common formatting pitfalls, such as inconsistent fonts or margins. Ensuring your resume looks professional and organized helps you make the best possible first impression and makes your resume easier to scan.
Seek Feedback From Professionals in The Field
Reading how-to guides and examples of entry-level consulting resumes is a great way to figure out the core requirements for resumes in the sector.
However, feedback from established consultants is invaluable for assessing the relevance and readability of your application, determining points for improvement, and preparing yourself for job interviews.
If you have contacts in the consultancy industry, consider asking them to review your resume or give you a mock interview. Their feedback can help you fix consulting resume issues and prepare compelling answers to common interview questions.
Of course, getting feedback from seasoned professionals is more straightforward if you already have industry contacts. If you don’t, networking can help you connect with knowledgeable, experienced consultants.
If you’re unable to attend conferences, job fairs, and other networking events, try connecting with industry contacts on LinkedIn or other professional networks online. Online communities are a great way to form connections and demonstrate your commitment to working in the consulting sector.
Alternatively, consider reaching out to former classmates and college professors for help. They may have the knowledge to provide feedback or put you in touch with contacts who can offer support.
Job-specific classes and workshops are also rich sources of career support from industry experts, and the connections you make could help you build valuable relationships with local businesses.
The Bottom Line…
Identifying and highlighting transferable skills, using a professional format, and getting feedback from industry contacts can help you create an attention-grabbing entry-level consulting resume that will capture the attention of hiring managers.
Though getting to the interview stage can be tough as an entry-level consultant, knowing what skills hiring managers look for and how to emphasize your abilities increases the chances of getting noticed and securing your first paid consulting role.
Emily Crowley is a Senior Content Writer and Resume Expert at Resume Genius, where she loves helping job seekers overcome obstacles and advance their careers. She graduated from George Mason University with a degree in Foreign Language and Culture.