The Differences Between Consulting Resumes and Tech/Engineering Resumes

by Jaineel Aga

This chapter is a free excerpt from The Best Book on Getting Consulting Jobs In India.

I want to differentiate between a consulting resume and an engineering/tech resume. When I speak to a lot of tech people, they tell me that they don't care if you are an avid mountain biker or if you hold the record for jumping out of a plane in outer space; they're more interested in the core skills you bring to the table.  If you're interviewing for a software developer role, they need to know how well you can structure your algorithm and optimize your code.  In consulting, interviewers do care about things beyond your academic achievements and intellectual horsepower. When you network, make sure you effectively showcase your personality beyond academics.

I spoke to a Duke program alum at Microsoft who told me that he would never put something his hobbies and interests on a resume submitted to Microsoft.  On the other hand, when I networked with an alum in the consulting industry, he told me my interests and hobbies would be used to build his impression of me! While applying for a consulting position, ensure that your personality and interests are reflected in your resume. It shouldn't be the primary focus of your resume, but it should definitely be mentioned. Differentiate yourself from the pack.

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I want to differentiate between a consulting resume and an engineering/tech resume. When I speak to a lot of tech people, they tell me that they don't care if you are an avid mountain biker or if you hold the record for jumping out of a plane in outer space; they're more interested in the core skills you bring to the table.  If you're interviewing for a software developer role, they need to know how well you can structure your algorithm and optimize your code.  In consulting, interviewers do care about things beyond your academic achievements and intellectual horsepower. When you network, make sure you effectively showcase your personality beyond academics.

I spoke to a Duke program alum at Microsoft who told me that he would never put something his hobbies and interests on a resume submitted to Microsoft.  On the other hand, when I networked with an alum in the consulting industry, he told me my interests and hobbies would be used to build his impression of me! While applying for a consulting position, ensure that your personality and interests are reflected in your resume. It shouldn't be the primary focus of your resume, but it should definitely be mentioned. Differentiate yourself from the pack.

For a tech resume, you need to emphasize the fact that you know 25,000 technical languages. You might know C++ and Java and Linux and X and Y and Z. Consulting firms don't care about that. Ask yourself if the skill is transferrable to consulting. If it isn't, why are you putting it on your resume? To be effective, always keep the bigger picture in mind. Ask the "so what" question. For example, you may have mastered the subject of digital signal processing from your electronics class and topped your class in it, but you know Spanish or French or Arabic or Mandarin? Which one do you think the consultants care more for?  Always imagine your interviewer asking you "how does XYZ skill set help you become a better consultant?"

You maybe wondering what kind of interests you should mention. Here are some examples:
  • Are you a talented musician?
  • Did you play sports in high school?
  • Did you organize an event for a cause you're passionate about?
  • Are you interested in something spectacular or genuinely different?
If yes to these, I would recommend putting them on your resume. Keep in mind, though, that this can be a double-edged sword. I've seen resumes where people have said "My interest is watching Star Wars." An interest in Star Wars may definitely be serious given its cult following (I'm a huge fan as well), but watching Star Wars is not an interest that is going excite your reviewer! If you created the graphics for Star Wars, designed the set, or wrote a thesis on how Quantum Mechanics proves that such a concept could never exist, that would interest your reader! Saying generic and banal things like your interests are watching movies, reading and traveling will ding you in the reviewer's head. Putting your interests on your resume is a double-edged sword. Interests also have to be customized to what and to whom you're applying. It depends on the position you're applying for and your overall story pitch.
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