Consulting careers offer many opportunities for highly skilled professionals, including the ability to pursue diverse projects and earn competitive compensation. More than eight in 10 CFOs consider consulting an attractive career choice for senior-level accounting and finance executives, according to research by our company. However, to stand out in this competitive field, you need not only in-demand skills and experience, but also a rock-solid consulting resume.
Here are five tips to help ensure that your consulting resume will catch a potential client’s attention:
1. Provide concise but thorough descriptions of previous work
When describing projects or initiatives you were involved in — whether it was helping a company prepare to meet new regulatory compliance requirements, get ready for an initial public offering or navigate a merger or acquisition deal — explain what you accomplished clearly, but succinctly.
Be sure to include a quantifiable outcome, as well, says Dan DeNisco, senior vice president for Robert Half Management Resources. “Clients are always interested in how a consultant can save them time and money,” he explains. “The consulting resume should therefore always highlight a professional’s track record of completing projects on time and on or under budget.”
2. Choose a functional format for your consulting resume
According to DeNisco, a functional format works better than a chronological format for a consulting resume because it focuses on a professional’s abilities.
“The functional format gives the consultant the opportunity to highlight his or her specific level of involvement, responsibilities and accomplishments on projects rather than just presenting a list of job titles and dates of employment,” he says.
3. Emphasize the range and depth of your experience
New consultants have a lot to demonstrate to potential clients because they are just embarking on a specialized career path where expertise and proven experience are musts.
That’s why it is important to underscore your hands-on knowledge of financial management systems and tools, and your breadth of exposure to the industries you have worked in, says DeNisco.
Also, be sure to include details about your education and list all relevant certifications.
4. Describe your work ethic
To meet targeted milestones and deadlines for projects, consultants are often asked to work more than the normal 40 hours per week. Many employers will therefore want to get a sense of a consultant’s work ethic, and whether they possess valuable attributes such as versatility and flexibility, before engaging that person for an assignment.
DeNisco offers this example of language a consultant might use in a consulting resume to provide insight into his or her work ethic: The project had very tight deadlines and key milestones, all of which were achieved by working an average of 55 hours per week.
5. Underscore your interpersonal skills
“After a consultant reaches a certain level of experience, technical abilities are a given and interpersonal skills are often the key to project success,” DeNisco explains. He says consultants can describe their soft skills by detailing their role on a project team and how they interacted with other members of that team, as well as with key stakeholders at the client site.
Showcasing your leadership abilities in your consulting resume could also help give you an edge when vying for an assignment. “Leadership abilities can be validated by detailing your leadership role on a project and your impact on the successful completion of that initiative,” says DeNisco.
He adds that a proven ability to lead by example can be just as valuable as a title, like project manager, in the eyes of a potential client. This is important for new consultants to keep in mind, as they may have limited experience serving in leadership roles on projects.
With companies relying on consultants to augment their core teams, serve in interim management roles, and assist with specialized projects, it’s a good time to break into consulting. Creating a compelling consulting resume is an important first step along what could become a rewarding new career path.
Want to learn more about working as a consultant?
Go to our job search page, where you can upload your resume, search for consulting jobs and learn about the benefits of working with Robert Half Management Resources.
More resources for consultants
Considering a Career in Consulting?: See this page for insight into why many professionals choose to become specialized consultants, and for links to other resources that can help you decide if consulting is the right career path for you.
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