How to Describe Your Work Ethic on Your Consulting Resume

By Robert Half February 19, 2016 at 3:00pm

Motivated? Driven? Strategic? Responsible? Even if these adjectives describe you as a professional, you should avoid using them when describing your work ethic on your resume for consulting jobs.

Here’s why: They’re buzzwords. (For more examples, see this list from LinkedIn).

These are the exact same words that countless other consultants are sprinkling throughout their job applications — adjectives you can be assured hiring managers are tired of reading.

And aside from being overused, buzzwords don't necessarily communicate your work ethic as effectively as you might think.

Dan DeNisco, senior vice president for Robert Half Management Resources, says: “Some of the overused words that I prefer not to see on a consulting resume are creative, innovative, self-starter and good communicator. In particular, creative and innovative don’t go over very well in financial reporting. I want to see specific, value-added statements that highlight ROIs of interest to prospective employers.”

Reach for action phrases — not just a thesaurus

So, how do you make your work ethic stand out on paper? By underscoring your deliverables. Use your resume to spell out some of the results you’ve achieved in previous consulting jobs.

Here are some examples of how to replace a tired adjective with a more engaging action phrase that conveys the same work ethic:

Responsible

Performed analysis of internal controls, systems and financial reporting and implemented new procedures that shortened the monthly closing cycle from six to three days.

Strategic

Reduced general and administrative expenses by $300,000 by reviewing and renegotiating vendor agreements.

Effective

Developed and implemented new policies and process improvements for the manufacturing group in Q2, which allowed them to increase productivity by 11 percent in Q3 without raising associated costs.

Organizational

Orchestrated a multidepartment initiative in the investment division to investigate “asset merge” discrepancies. Identified several control inefficiencies and devised action plans with management, banks and security holders to correct.

Now more than ever, companies value the flexibility and specialized expertise a consultant can bring to their more complex projects and initiatives. If your resume for consulting jobs highlights the measurable results of your skills, rather than listing a handful of overused adjectives, you will be much more likely to attract a prospective client’s attention.

This post was originally published in January 2014 and has been updated to reflect more current information.

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