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No matter how well you perform in interviews, you will not land a consulting offer if you cannot get an interview. And the key to that is to have a great resume!

1. Consulting resumes are different

There are many students with really good resumes asking me why they are rejected by McKinsey or Bain even before the interview round. The reason is much simpler than most of them would expect: Their resume is not for management consulting! Simply speak out, they have wasted too many words and much space on describing the “wrong qualifications“.

A perfect consulting resume should directly speak to consulting people. It should be written in a consulting-like tone and should highlight skill sets which are relevant to consulting. In order to nail it, you should (1) understand the management consulting industry and (2) have someone in the industry give you their feedback. (see consulting terminology that you can and should include in your resume)

2. Behind the scenes

Though the resume screening process is varied across different firms and offices, there are some common themes that every consulting resume screening process sticks to.

Your resume will likely be reviewed by junior consultants who share your background.

Three important keywords here are JUNIOR, CONSULTANT, and SHARED BACKGROUND.

JUNIOR

Most consulting firms receive a huge number of resumes and the seniors’ hourly salary is too high for them to spend their time reading resumes, so they just pass the work to junior consultants. As a result, you don’t need stuff that is too fancy or technical to get in. In fact, simple and understandable language works best.

CONSULTANT

In order to evaluate whether a candidate is a good fit for consulting work, the screener must know insights and have experienced the consulting life him/herself. Most offices only allow consultants to review resumes. It will be highly beneficial if you can have someone in the consulting industry look at your resume and give their feedback.

SHARED BACKGROUND

Generally, your resume will be reviewed by whomever in the office that has the most similar background as yours. Either the screener went to the same university or he/she was from the same country as you.

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  • pacino4

    Hi Kim, your website and videos are very informative. I have a question. What is the turnaround time/timeline (in weeks) for each step in the interview process from McKinsey ? For example, 1 – Resume submission – If interested, when do they call you back from the time you submitted your resume to schedule a PST ? 2. If PST successful – from the time you complete the PST, when can you schedule the Case interview ? 3. If case interview successful – from the time you complete the case interview, when can you schedule the personal interview ? I am trying to identify the end to end timeline from a planning and preparation perspective. I will be applying in the experienced professionals category for associate roles. Will appreciate your inputs. Thanks!

  • Kim Tran

    Hi Pacino4. Thank you very much for your interest in our website. I wish I can give you an exact number but the fact is that this depends on a lot of factors. What office you are applying to? Is it a big or a small one. What time in the year is that? Are partners / senior managers doing any killer projects at the time? Do you apply through campus recruiting or individually… ect. My best guess is that each step would take an average of about 2 weeks. Hope this helps!

    • pacino4

      Hi Kim,
      Thanks for your response! I plan to apply individually to the Boston office next month. While I have done some amount of groundwork/preparation for the 3 stages of the interview, if there are about 2 weeks between every step I feel I should wait and take a deep dive into preparations for those stages only during those 2 weeks. After all, I don’t know if I will even get an interview call after resume submission – speaking of which, 1.Would it be better to email my resume directly to their recruiter or submit it online through their website? 2. With 10 years of work experience while I will be indicating my (stellar) GPA, GMAT, will those numbers really matter when deciding to call for interview/PST ? Thanks again.

      • Kim Tran

        Hi Pacino4, the “2 weeks” number I gave is just the average. Sometimes it’s longer but sometimes it’s shorter. When I was applying to McKinsey years back, I only had like 2 – 3 days from my PST to my first interview. So the better strategy would be to adequately spread out your study to all aspects.

        And to answer your two other questions:
        1. I hate to say this but this really depends. If it’s the Boston office (an established one), the website system is pretty reliable. But on the other hand you are applying individually, may be directly contacting recruiters is a better way.

        2. Congrats on having those stellar GPA, GMAT scores. If I am a resume screener, I would not pay too much attention to that. But still, a very nice thing to have on your resume!

        Hope this helps!

  • Al

    Hi, are there any good resume/CV checking services apart from cvme.co? Just wondering if there is something not too expensive but professional

    • Krissia

      Hi Al,

      Have you used cvme.co? How did you find the service and is it worth it?

  • Andre Costa

    What about cover letters? Are they necessary to get an interview or a well rounded consulting resume enough? Thanks Kim!