Major Consulting firms reveal what they look for in the ideal IT candidate profile

We’ve researched the top consulting firms to find out precisely what is it that firms look for in a consultant’s profile and have provided our step by step guide on how to create a winning candidate profile.

Just what will turn the key, as it were, to enter to their hallowed halls?  Some of the answers may surprise you below.

According to McKinsey, “Every year, ~200,000 candidates apply to us, but only ~2,000 of them end up getting an offer.”  That’s an incredible success rate of 1%.

Candidates usually don’t know this, but the first, and most competitive step in the recruiting process is where the more than 60% of applicants get eliminated. Their cover letter and profile screening.

So how do you craft an IT consultant profile that gets you interviews at leading international companies and consulting firms like McKinsey, BCG and Bain?

We’re quite sure you already have a resume or CV of your work experience, but how do you make sure you are successfully hired by one of the major consulting firms?

Here’s what to focus on:

Consulting resumes or profiles, are COMPLETELY different to CVs for other jobs.

First, we’ll provide insider tips that you should be aware of, then we’ll walk you through how to structure your consulting profile.  

Part 1: What Top Firms Look For In A Profile

When it comes to this topic, there are two versions of the truth.

Whether a company is looking to hire someone on a permanent basis, or as a consultant for a fixed term, there’s the official version that’s on every firm’s website – and the unofficial one that they are less willing to talk about.

1.1  The official version

Virtually every company will list the four virtues they value in candidates as being:

Problem solving.  Meaning you should exhibit the strong intellectual ability to solve problems at university and throughout your work experience.

Personal impact. A dedication to achieving great things, and a strong personal impact on projects you have participated in.

Entrepreneurial drive. A proven track record of launching innovative initiatives at university and work.

Leadership abilities. Again, either in a professional or student capacity, you’ve

demonstrated the ability to lead groups of people.

Your profile should therefore be crafted in a way to highlight as many of these skills as possible.

1.2 The unofficial version

Now let’s address the top three untold things that consulting firms and other companies look for, that you should keep in mind as you build your profile.

Briefly, they are the following:

Big Brand Names – Schools: Our resume screener will be looking for big brand names when going through your CV. If you went to a target school (e.g. Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, Cambridge, etc.) that will definitely help.

Big Brand – Companies: If you did not attend a target school then your best chance of getting noticed is to have worked for companies that are big and well-known such as Scania, Samsung, Coca-Cola, Exxon or Google to name just a few.

Languages – An important aspect of consulting resumes that’s not very often discussed is language ability. No matter what your mother-tongue language is, everyone in tech is expected to speak a fair level of English.  However, if you’re a candidate who speaks multiple languages, this will be a big help to get you that consulting interview.

Part 2: Top Consulting resume tips

Tip #1: Keep it to one page

Tip #2: Use a standard format and standard font

Tip #3: Use no more than 5 sections

Tip #4: Don’t make things too complicated

Tip #5: Show off your soft people skills

Tip #6: Use action verbs

Tip #7: Quantify everything

Tip #8: Be unique

Tip #9: Ask for feedback

Tip #10: Proofread – Multiple times!

Profile Formatting Basics

Picking the Right Point of View

When deciding whether to write your bio in the first (I) or third (Joe Blogs) person, the general rule of thumb is to consider who is introducing you. For example, on a company page, you are being introduced by your company so it makes sense to use the third person.

Although you are considered the “publisher” of your profile, it’s generally accepted that you use the third person, but steer clear of pronouns and first names. It is preferable to say “led a team of 6 engineers…” Or, “achieved a 25% increase in conversion…”

The following format is the preferred standard of international companies and consulting firms:

1.      Personal Statement, Summary Statement or Focus Statement – A short, laser focused encapsulation of your past achievements, in no more than three sentences.

2.      Career Highlights – a few bullet points highlighting key skills and strengths – this can change depending on the particular position or company you are targeting.

3.      Work experience – In this section, include the name of the position you held, the employer, as well as the location and dates in the Headline. Start each bullet point describing your experience with an ACTION verb that matches one of the four attributes (above) leading consulting firms and global companies look for.  

4.      Education – Here, it’s important to summarize the degrees or diplomas you achieved, but do not list your high school.  Whether you have a single or multiple degrees, include the name of the degree, university and dates in the headline. You should also list the relevant majors, scholarships and awards you achieved.

5.      Extra-curricular Activities – No one will tell you this – but, according to the top consulting firms – the most common mistake they find in resumes, is the absence of an extra-curricular achievements section. If you have limited work experience, it’s a great way to show leadership, entrepreneurial drive and personal impact.  So, if you’ve have a position in a university club (e.g. Consulting club, Finance club, Theatre club, etc.) definitely mention it.

6.      Additional Skills – Another much overlooked detail. In this section, list the skills that you have mastered, such as extra languages (a potential employer might be looking for someone who speaks Mandarin) and of course, any other technical skill.

Now that you have the inside story on how to create a winning consultant profile, you’re off to a flying start!

If you have any questions on this, or anything related to Brainping, don’t hesitate to ask! We’re here to assist in any way possible – and would be happy to address your needs in our upcoming blogs.

Image source: