Your CV in the “pass” pile

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As recruiting season gears up, I’ve heard from consulting hounds the following question: “What makes a resume get into the “pass” pile verus the ding pile?” I’ll try to flesh it out in the following set of posts. I start here with some guiding principles…

PRINCIPLE 1: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

When I was screening resumes for my consulting firm, it was usually on my 3rd or 4th day on the road. I scanned them fast, because it meant the difference between 5 and 6 hours of sleep (which is critical, as you’ll soon find out!).

I read somewhere that McKinsey gets > 300,000 resumes per year. This works out to around 3,000 per office, or 10 per office per day!

A consulting recruiting specialist has to read all of these resumes, on top of an incredibly busy schedule of arranging interviews with candidates, running recruiting meetings, “onboarding” new hires, coordinating consultant training… etc

So what you see in this industry is that consulting firms will loop in early and mid-tenure consultants to ease the burden. (By the way, recruiting is a great and fun way to get involved at your consulting firm, all you FFY’s out there).

Once the resumes got to me, I am sad to say that I could be impatient, judgmental, and cranky.

Your reader is a tired, sleepy consultant, who has 19 other resumes that are between him/her and a feathery mattress.


PRINCIPLE 2: WRITE COMPELLING CONTENT

So what to do to pierce the noise and get into the “pass” pile? Consultants, like the predictable beings we are, act pretty consistently in the face of a flood of information.

You need to showcase the right amount of leadership, brands, and results. Talk about the team that you managed that knocked it out of the park. The plans and projects you initiated. The results you’ve seen which should not just be good, but great.

The idea of “brands” is necessarily more complex and should be addressed. When we talk about brands, we’re not just talking about Ivy League schools (although, lets face it, they are), but more generally, well known institutions.

I’ve lined up some Fortune 500 companies against a few highly respectable Los Angeles businesses in the table below. Which ones catch your eye?

Proctor & Gamble
Goldman Sachs
Walmart
General Electric

Georeach Network
Amalgamated Bank
B. Food International
Lindsey Manufacturing Company

The reason why brands are important is because they help people shift through information faster. It’s not that Goldman Sachs is subjectively better company than, say, Amalgamated Bank. It’s just that the GS brand is subjectively recognized by the average person as a signal of quality, whereas the lesser known Amalgated Bank brand would necessate a casual reader to need more information.

If you have lesser-known institutions on your resume, educate your audience as to what they are! Add a short description about its blue chip clients, total revenue, number of offices, or award-winning service line.


Principle 3: GET A WARM RECEPTION IF YOU CAN

Consulting firms NEED talent. They’re always losing consultants who want to pursue a passion or go local. (As a sidenote, tons end up in corporate strategy groups, startups, even nonprofits).

Always, even in down economies. So there’s a big incentive to keep the hiring channels open, more so than the average place. It’s just understood.

When I was an Associate at my firm, friends and old classmates sometimes sent me emails introducing their friends who were interested in consulting. If we hit it off, I’d pass their resume along with enthusiasm and wish them luck. This is a great way to learn about a consulting firm and build a relationship with a potential firm mentor!

Its not a secret that it is standard consulting industry practice to occasionally offer consultants referral bonuses when their recommendations end up getting hired. The money isnt much, but it’s a small way for a firm to thank consultants for their time and effort.

Networking into the consulting interview process wont guarantee an interview, but it wont hurt. At the least, it will get your resume serious consideration, especially since another consultant has put the work into getting to know you.