Consultants used to be “parachuted in” to help businesses when there was no other choice. Now they form an integral, ongoing part of many companies. A consultant's resume should showcase not only the capacity for brilliant thinking but also awareness of how to influence and drive through necessary changes.
The same idea in two different organizations has the potential to turn out very differently, depending on how it has been received. The best consultants know how to see their ideas through to fruition and create a fertile environment for those ideas to be adopted and cultivated. Conveying this rarest of skill-sets is a huge challenge in the context of a resume. How do you write a resume that covers it all? How do you know what to focus on? This guide will cover these topics:
- What does a consultant do?
- How to write a consultant resume that covers every inch of value and expertise that you offer, and ensure that you include enough relevant keywords to pass the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) test.
- The best format for a consultant resume to highlight your key achievements and most significant projects.
- Advice on each section of your resume: summary, work history, education, skills
- Professional resume layout and design hints.
Along with our sample resumes and resume builder tool , we will help you showcase your talent in the most effective way, while doing the basics that you need to get past the HR software ATS gatekeeper.
What does a consultant do?
The role of a consultant is to offer employers value and expertise that they cannot find in their employee population. Whether they work one day a week or for months on end, consultants offer an injection of brilliance wherever it is required. When organizations have only operated in a certain way for a number of years, sometimes these interventions are critical to start off on a new path.
The ideas and direction that consultants offer help to stimulate the minds of employees and show them that there are other ways of thinking. Consultants might not understand all of an organization's intricacies, but their example will change the mindsets of those around them. When change is introduced it tends to beget further change and the process becomes self-fulfilling.
The ideas and direction that consultants offer help to stimulate the minds of employees and show them that there are other ways of thinking. Even if consultants do not understand all the intricacies of a business, their example will change the mindsets of those around them. When change is introduced it tends to beget further change and the process becomes self-fulfilling.
Consulting can be a highly rewarding occupation, but good ideas aren’t enough. Consultants need a broad skill set to ensure that their ideas are taken on board, implemented and used as a foundation for further growth.
Some people think that consultants have it easy. They come up with an idea or two and tell people to change a few things. For that they get paid a lot and then leave before the consequences of their work become apparent.
That misperception could not be further from the truth. The work of consultants is an end-to-end process, from idea to delivery, and every aspect of how they go about their work should be catalogued in their resume. You need to demonstrate that you were involved and deeply integrated into every part of the process, not just giving the initial idea and then popping up to receive the glory at the end.
If a consultant’s resume only focuses on achievements and lacks information about how you got there, it risks being seen as superficial. The employer may well view you as a hands-off glory hunter. That is not the impression you want to create.
Ideally, your resume should give a balanced view of activity at every stage of the consulting process, spread across a number of projects and employers. As consultants typically have more projects than the average employee has jobs, your resume may be a page longer than usual. Still, you need to make the right choices about how much detail to share and why you are sharing it.
Employers take on a consultant because they need help in a certain area, often for a limited period of time. They know that they will be paying a disproportionately large amount of money for your services, so your resume needs to be crystal clear about what exactly the employer will be paying for. There are three basic considerations for a consultant resume:
- Showcasing the range of your projects with the impacts on people and finances.
- Describing how you work to turn ideas into reality, with a strong emphasis on delivery.
- Ensuring that your resume is full of action verbs and project-specific language.
Your CV should contain the following elements:
- Resume summary (also known as the profile or personal statement)
- Employment history section
- Education section
- Resume skills section
Other related consultancy resume examples
Don't forget to have a look at other related Business & Management resume examples here below:
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How to present a consultant job role
While the nature of consulting projects varies widely, depending on industry, functional expertise and seniority, the nuts and bolts of your consultancy toolbox will remain largely the same. You must be ready to tackle countless situations and, like a doctor administering medicine to a patient, you must understand what to do and when to do it. If certain aspects of your “treatment” are absent from your resume, your future employer might doubt whether you have actually done what the resume claims you have done.
When prospective employers read your resume, they should be falling over themselves to give you a call to provide a health check, treat their wounds, get them on the road to recovery and level up their future corporate health. But what elements of the role could you include?
Besides going into the details of your more impressive achievements, a consultant’s resume should cover all of the basics. Certain activities might seem too obvious to mention, but it is better to be comprehensive than not include them at all, even if it makes your resume longer than most.
Successful consultants are able to identify problems and understand which lever they need to pull to find a solution. They bring in the right people to their teams, ensure that everyone’s ideas are taken into account and then come up with an efficient plan to make the most out of available talent. They always work with the end goal in mind and are able to overcome obstacles and resolve issues along the way.
Consultants are adept influencers at every level of seniority in an organization, and know how to persuade others to see things from the required perspective. They are amazing listeners and know that not all the solutions will come from their own heads. They have to tease them out from others who may not even know that they know.
The commercial awareness of consultants is second to none. The client company's bottom line is always at the forefront of consulting activity towards process enhancement and improved profitability. Consultants are not afraid to spend time researching before jumping into action. Their work involves professional-caliber oral and written communication, and they are used to presenting information that is often controversial and not always welcomed.
Consultants have the creativity and vision to see through ideas that seem impossible to others. They train those around them with new skills, equip them with a fresh mindset and show them what is possible when they rise to a challenge.
All of these aspects should be woven into a consultant’s resume, but first you must overcome the more mundane challenge of ensuring your resume will actually be seen by the recruiter. That means you have to get your resume past the ATS online screening software first.
How do you beat the ATS software?
With the depth of expertise that consultants have to offer, it would be a shame if their resume were not read by an employer. Yet, this is exactly what might happen if an ATS algorithm doesn’t notice enough suitable keywords. It might seem strange that a machine is in charge of the first part of the hiring process, but ATS are being used increasingly as electronic gatekeepers to sift through the first wave of applications submitted online.
Working as a consultant is incredibly popular, and the most popular employers receive a lot of applications (many of which are not remotely suitable). Therefore, to “play the ATS game,” you need to get your keyword strategy right. Keyword selection should come after a very thorough review of the advertised job description and scope of the specific consulting role, which vary greatly depending on the employer's size and industry.
While it is important to showcase your range of business development experience, the ATS system may only be looking for certain keywords, so sprinkling your resume with specific words and terms that the hiring manager will have specified is crucial to passing this first stage of the selection process.
In many of our resume guides , the advertised job description is suggested as the best source of information about keywords you might want to choose. This is no different for a consultant, although some employers may not yet understand the scope of the consulting role in the first place. In that instance, including the keywords and skills referred to in this guide should be fine, along with the critical industry and function-specific terminology.
Choosing the best resume format for a consultant
Determining the most suitable format for structuring a consultant resume depends on your career path. The most commonly used chronological resume format works well for job seekers in almost any occupation, particularly if their work history has followed a linear path in a series of employee positions. In that resume section, progressive job experience and accomplishments are organized by employer / workplace in reverse order from most recent to earliest dates. It would likely be a good fit for most consultant job applicants who already have experience in the same field or other areas of business or management.
For those new to the workforce or changing careers, an alternative resume format may be appropriate. The same is true if your occupational background is more varied, including some self-employed professionals with a project-based background well suited to a “functional” resume format. Other functional resumes emphasize specialized technical skills or concentrated areas of expertise, rather than work history. In some instances, a hybrid (combination) work history makes sense in adapting chronological and functional elements.
Consultant CV summary example: professional image
The summary and skills sections of your resume are where the ATS impact is greatest, since that is where your professional experience is highlighted in descriptive terms. The ATS algorithm places great weight on what has been written in your summary, so it is vital to demonstrate just how you make things happen.
Here are a few ideas about how to write a hard-hitting summary.
When you have a lot of projects to boast about, your summary has to focus only on those most relevant for your future employer. The free-flowing text allows you to position yourself as the person to solve all of their problems. The most important aspect of a consultant’s summary is that the activity has to be quantifiable — and impressively so. Anyone can say “Led an HR team through a transformation project,” but not all can say “Redesigned work flows and processes for an HR team of 24, leading to a 30% redeployment of employees, a 50% increase in retention and a 35% increase in internal customer satisfaction.”
The best consultants measure the impact of their decisions and actions, to understand how to behave next time a similar problem comes along. Two or three such killer sentences in a summary will go a long way towards impressing a future client, whether the example is relevant or not. Your summary should portray you as a person who analyzes, galvanizes, directs and then measures.
Try to avoid emotional language
To convey a consultant's clinical thinking trait, try to stay away from emotional language or flowery adjectives. Keep your summary wording matter-of-fact and practically focused, packed with detail about projects and including facts and figures where possible.
Be someone who delivers on your promises
There is nothing worse than a consultant who promises the earth and delivers something unrecognizable. Your summary needs to describe you as setting high targets with a view to knowing how you are going to reach them. Anyone can pluck sky-high figures from the air and say that this is what we are aiming for. Back up your claims and make sure you stand behind everything in your resume. If you seem to be exaggerating your input, employers will immediately become suspicious. It's likely they have been burnt by the predictions of over-ambitious consultants before.
Impress them with industry jargon
When applying for any consulting role, there will definitely be some industry-specific experience that you will need to cite. While a consultant might be applying for various roles across a number of industries, it is important to modify the summary to include a few industry-relevant terms for the industry of each potential employer.
Transformational consultant who has delivered over $250m worth of incremental business revenue by implementing sales improvement initiatives across a variety of technology industries. Recent fintech projects include an 18-month interim role with a leading bank to develop a new CRM app for internal use. Laser-focused leadership mentality and meticulous communication skills ensure that everyone is pulling in the same direction. Has led project teams of 5-120 and adept at presenting strategy at any level. I have over-delivered in each of my previous five roles. Leading technology expert – frequently published on industry press, with a blog following of 15,000.
Employment history sample: measurable success
The employment history section of your consultant's resume should highlight the biggest projects you have managed for each employer. A big project for a small employer is more important that a small project for a big employer. Consider the overall impact of what you have done. Many consultants find it hard to write their employment history. Having undertaken so many projects during their career, they may be overwhelmed by the urge to talk about all of them in detail. However, as with the other consultant resume sections, try to only include accomplishment relevant to the role you are applying for. This might entail writing a longer piece with every possible project and achievement, then “cutting & pasting” only what you think is suitable.
You should still list your past employers in chronological order, starting with the most recent, but if your most relevant experience is a couple of projects ago, don’t be afraid to give this section more space in your resume. Space is wasted talking about less relevant experience. For a wow factor, illustrate your work history with measurable results, figures and before / after comparisons.
Context is everything. If you are not able to elaborate on your contributions with specific details, alarm bells will ring. It is also important to include details of your interpersonal interactions. How do you influence those around you? How are your skills of persuasion? How do you bring together diverse teams of individuals and motivate them towards a common goal — especially when not all of them even believe in the common goal. Winning people’s hearts and minds is more than half the battle.
To describe a project in detail, consider using the STAR method for a logical and straightforward explanation: Situation that you were in, Task(s) you had; Actions/strategy you used; Result you achieved.
Consultant, Tour X, Dallas
October 2013 — August 2019
- Provided the client with optimal guidance and business planning based on industry expertise and predictions of market trends.
- Developed specific finance goals and strategies to achieve them.
- Outlined problem areas and created real solutions.
- Recommended business best practices.
- Prepared detailed reports, proposals, and recommendations.
- Attended and participated in staff meetings regarding marketing goals and strategies.
Consultant, New Wave Partners, Austin
April 2009 — September 2013
- Worked with client to assess business progress and identify problems and shortcomings.
- Provided guidance regarding advertising, product development, and product placement.
- Created measurable benefits for the company, and provided employees with long lasting tools for growth.
- Communicated well with high level executives and provided them with weekly briefings on progress and growth.
- Helped to devise a new business model, and steps to support it.
- Advanced content marketing initiatives, leading to noticeable successes.
- Established and nurtured open communication airways to lead to better team functioning.
Consultant resume education example
The education section of a consultant’s resume is often secondary to the work experience section. Most consultants have a bachelor’s degree, typically in business or marketing. But depending on the industry, all sorts of degrees are possible as many consultants start in corporate roles before embarking on their consulting careers. Further industry-specific qualifications are common among consultants.
Consulting professionals who command the highest fees likely have an MBA or industry-specific qualifications. An MBA from a prestigious school is often a prerequisite to securing the best work. Consultants have to earn a certain reputation in their market, and letters after their name certainly help in this respect.
Here’s an education section from a consultant resume example:
Bachelor of Economics, Baylor University, Waco
August 2003 — May 2007
High School Diploma, St. Francis Preparatory School, Austin
September 1999 — May 2003
Skills section example: a unique toolbox
Consulting skills are core to your success. The key is knowing when to bring each skill into play and to what extent. The richer the skills toolkit, the greater the success. A consultant's role can be widely varied, so your resume should include a mix of hard and soft skills. You need to present yourself as a rounded operator.
Give real-life, (and relevant) examples and demonstrate your individual impact.
The longer-format examples of skills below, with explanations of your skills, could be adapted for integrating into your summary and employment history sections:
- Managed a recruitment transformation project to deliver $450k in savings.
- Increased net profit of financial services business by 20%.
- Advised a board around HR issues during their industry leading IPO process.
- Led a marketing team through a transformation project after a merger.
- Compiled an award-winning telecoms market report that was widely published.
- Wrote the strategy and led tactical implementation of a $4m manufacturing initiative.
- Presented and spoke at industry conferences with audiences of 3,500+ people.
Here are a few of the shorter skill phrases / words that you could include in the skills section of your consultant resume:
Solve Problems, Manage Change, Improve Efficiency, Advice, Expertise, Profitability, Research, Statistical Analysis, Resolving Issues, Presenting Strategy, Implementing Projects, Developing Processes, Commercial Awareness, Attention to Detail, Persuasion, Tact, Technical Knowhow, Creativity, Listening Skills, Vision, Competitor Analysis, Organizational Improvement, Public Speaking, Financial Analysis, Conflict Resolution.
- Business Performance Expertise
- Strong Communication Skills
- Business and Marketing Strategies
- Problem Solving Skills
- Knowledge of Digital Performance Metrics
- Analytical Thinking Skills
Resume layout and formatting
Make good use of bullet points and other visually attractive resume layout features to showcase your main achievements. There are no specific rules about which format to choose, but we can suggest some guiding principles.
First, ensure that the overall look it is visually clean, easy to read and symmetrical. You will have a lot to say about your achievements, but the starring moments of your career will be lost on a if it is cluttered page.
Second, don’t make your resume too densely technical in any sections. A recruiter without a deep understanding might skip over to more readable parts. Including technical terms is good for the ATS, but make sure they they are integrated into the story of your career. Including a huge list of skills is rarely a good idea. Our professional resume template collection has a wide range of attractive designs.
Key takeaways for a consultant resume
- Demonstrate not only your brilliant thinking but also your influence and drive.
- Give details of your best projects — from start to finish, and quantify your success.
- Describe how, with the help of others, you turn great ideas into brilliant reality.
- Make sure that your resume shows off your clear and concise communication skills.
- Avoid emotional language. Simply be clear about what you are great at.
- Give the most detail about your most successful and relevant projects.
- Don’t be concerned if your resume is longer than what a regular employee might create; you have a lot to say.
- Only include skills that are relevant to the role you are applying for.
Above all, avoid hidden pitfalls, save time and empower your job hunt with a few easy clicks in the resume.io templates and builder tool. Finally, learn how to write a cover letter from a template created by HR experts!