While most people struggle with finding enough to talk about to fill a two-page resume, consultants usually face the opposite problem: they’ve done too much, and for too many people and businesses, to know how to condense their work experience into a compelling and cohesive reflection of their value. Sara was one of those people. A well-known consultant with a wide breadth of work experience, Sara was having trouble succinctly summarizing her consulting experience for her resume without losing the depth of her work in the process.
Realizing the challenges consultants often face with developing resumes, I’ve put together some actionable tips from two of our top executive resume writers for building a concise and clear consulting resume to win you the clients or the consulting role you really want.
Becoming a Consultant
The “normal” path into consulting is via means of employment in the working world as most people know it. A consultant is the person who has gained enough knowledge and experience in an industry or aspect of business that they can share their expertise with others to help them improve their business. This person should be clear in their resume summary that they are seeking a consulting job, rather than a job as a traditional employee, said Matilda Cole, an executive resume writer with Great Resumes Fast. It’s imperative to state this “career goal” so the person reading your resume understands what opportunity you are looking for.
The application process for a consultant position may be different than that for a traditional position—and you may even be essentially cold-calling in some cases, so it is especially important that your resume grab attention and demonstrate your value right off the bat.
Chelsea Kerwin, another one of our savvy executive resume writers, added that when it comes to transitioning careers into a consultant role, it is important to highlight, or even reweigh, the most relevant work experience you have. To most effectively include your work experience, you may need a major overhaul of your resume as part of your client outreach and job search process.
“Make sure your consulting resume is focused on what is most relevant for the job target and business,” said Kerwin. “Include everything that would apply in work experience, accomplishments, and skills to the new position.”
For this type of resume, you may also want to read our blog on career change resumes.
Attracting New Clients or Employers
If you’re a consultant looking to freshen up your resume to pursue a different consulting gig, Cole recommended conducting a market segmentation to determine what your competitive advantage is for the position you want. Next, you’ll need to customize your marketing outreach materials (such as your professional resume and biography) to fit the needs identified in your research. In other words, look at the job you want and build your resume to fit the requirements by highlighting your most relevant consulting experience.
Sara fell into this category of a consultant pursing a new consulting gig. Using subheads in addition to her headings, she narrowed down her work experience and expertise to fit several areas that would benefit any business including expertise with the “Boomer Consumer,” Marketing/Advertising, Research & Analysis, Corporate Training, and Spokesperson. This lets all potential employers reviewing her resume see what she has achieved and very quickly see exactly how she can help their business.
Focus on Achievements
So how can you best describe your consulting experience and accomplishments on a resume? Kerwin said the best place to start with a consulting resume is the same as with an executive resume. Consulting resumes should be achievement-based, concise, and full of metrics. To start the process, make a list of your greatest consulting accomplishments and identify numbers that support those successes.
“If anything, consultants need to double down on these characteristics,” Kerwin advised. Someone already working as a consultant may have more relevant work experience to draw on, but those wishing to become consultants will also need to examine their past roles to provide compelling evidence of their ability to do the job and bring value to a business. Solid, tangible accomplishments convey your value well.
Additionally, Kerwin said other areas of focus for a consulting resume should include:
• Thought Leadership
• Research and Analysis
• Ability to Collaborate Effectively – what does the result of the collaboration look like in reality? This is not just saying you’re able to collaborate, but that the collaboration led to an accomplishment or success for a business.
• Team Leadership – again, this isn’t about just stating you’re a team leader it’s about providing tangible results.
• Strategic Planning ExecutionFor Sara, Kerwin was able to consolidate her work experience under a few major headers to make her resume appear succinct. She touched on Sara’s entire work history, accomplishments, and expertise using the headers Generational Expert, Key Metric Highlights, Product Development, Thought Leadership, Corporate Training, Public Relations, Accolades, and Media/Publications. This allows potential clients to see the expanse of her work at a glimpse and read more under the header that most applies to the specific needs of their business.
Keep It Concise
Once you have made your list, you may have to whittle it down without losing the message about the positive impact your consulting efforts have had for your clients, said Kerwin. She also advised that consulting resumes should be kept to no more than two pages in length, three at the most. She acknowledged this can be a challenge for many consultants with long career histories, multiple accomplishments, and numerous projects under their belt. Remember, your resume is a career snapshot, not an in-depth history, so you need to make every word count.
In Sara’s case, the fact that she was already a well-established and well-known consultant made it easier to create a career snapshot despite the depth of her consulting experience. Though Sara kept wanting to add more, Kerwin said the best method for a consulting resume is to keep it as concise as possible. For Sara’s resume, Kerwin creatively combined years of experience, numerous accomplishments, and a multitude of clients on three pages using identifying headers.
Consistency, Variety, & Name-Dropping
Cole advised focusing on consistency, variety, and name-dropping in your consulting resume. There should be a consistent theme of what you bring to the table as a consultant. This is the value proposition you are offering the client or your next employer. Within that theme, Cole said to demonstrate the breadth of projects you have worked on by providing specific examples with numbers to support how you’ve been successful.
You will also want to name names in your resume. Cole said if your client list is not confidential, you should be providing a sample list of key clients. This will show potential clients the size, industry, and complexity of your client base and your work. Kerwin added that including your GPA and the name of big schools you have attended, for undergrad or graduate school, is also a bonus.
Sara was able to effectively employ name-dropping in her resume by incorporating logos of major companies under specific subtitles. For example, she placed logos for AARP, Comcast, and Delta under the subhead Product Development, Marketing and Advertising, while placing logos for Kimberly-Clark, BMO, and Kroger under Thought Leadership, Research & Analysis. These subheads allow hiring managers, recruiters and corporate leaders to quickly see what kind of work she did for these major organizations.
Ride the Line
Kerwin said consulting resumes really have to be able to capture attention and writers shouldn’t be afraid to walk the line between emphasizing their work for a consulting client and boasting on their own behalf. Consulting is a competitive field, and applicants for consulting positions will likely be numerous, so you must position yourself as an expert and demonstrate your value over the competition.
Sara’s resume set her apart not only by highlighting her vast experience and naming her top clients, but it emphasized her education, the number of white papers she published, and her endorsements. This information, combined with metrics and an abbreviated client list including some Fortune 500 companies, really positions her above other consultants.
While creating an effective consulting resume can be a challenging process, there are also many opportunities to highlight your best attributes and build a personal brand that sets you apart from your competition. You will need to focus on your best skills such as problem-solving while quantifying your results as much as possible to demonstrate your consulting value. Writing your own consulting resume can be hard; if you need help with the process visit our website Great Resumes Fast or call us at our office at 1800.991.5187.
Are you tired of your resume being rejected by applicant tracking systems? I know how frustrating it is to submit your resume and receive no response. I hate seeing qualified people never breakthrough the screening process. It shouldn’t be that way. That’s why I created this guide and I encourage you to download the FREE PDF so you can start seeing better resume response rates!
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About the author
Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast
Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.
What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.
You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!
I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!
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