With the wide use of LinkedIn and personal websites to promote yourself, the idea of a printable résumé may seem old-fashioned but in most cases, it’s still necessary. This article explains why and how a consulting résumé should differ from a traditional corporate résumé. It also includes tips for crafting a strong one.
Q: I’ve heard that having a bio is better for solopreneurs, it this true?
A: It depends on your type of work. For example, a coach or public speaker probably can use a one-page bio because their expertise is fairly narrow and relevant only in a certain context. On the other hand, consultants who do project work should have résumés that clearly reflect the types of projects they have done. That way potential clients can see the variety of situations in which they have made a difference.
Q: If I have a complete profile on LinkedIn, why do I need a résumé?
A: You want to make it as easy as possible for a client to select you over other consultants. It’s true that practically every client will review your LinkedIn profile, but when it’s time to consider you vis-à-vis another consultant, they are probably going to want something they can print, write notes on, and/or easily share with others. Moreover, some people prefer to review documents like résumés away from their desk, for example while eating lunch or in the evening. It’s also likely that the person interviewing you is super busy, so they’ll want something they can easily skim before talking with you.
Q: Should I post my résumé to my LinkedIn profile or on my website?
A: Yes, you want to make it easy for people to learn more about you.
Now that we’ve addressed why you should have a tailored résumé, let’s make sure it’s the right kind. Most people don’t realize that a consulting résumé is different than a traditional corporate résumé. Understanding the difference will make marketing yourself to potential clients more effective.
The purpose of a consulting résumé is to enable potential clients to clearly understand your expertise and how you can help them. Consequently, your consulting résumé should differ than your corporate résumé in three ways: length, format, and content.
LENGTH: Consulting résumés tend to be longer because they should include several project summaries to demonstrate expertise and accomplishments. It’s not uncommon for a consulting résumé to be three pages. That said, once you reach three pages or more, you may want to switch to a different format.
FORMAT: The best consulting résumés are a cross between a traditional chronological résumé and a functional résumé. These hybrids clearly highlight areas of expertise, listing select projects as evidence for each skill area. Also, these résumés usually have a section listing recognizable clients. Much lower in the document they include an abbreviated section for work history with only company names, locations, job titles, and dates. There is no need to list what you did in each job because you’ve already included relevant examples in the functional section. (Click here for an example.)
CONTENT: The two most important things in a consulting résumé are numbers and results, which aren't always the same thing. Numbers give a sense of scale and complexity; use them wherever possible. Use actual numbers instead of words so it’s easier to skim. Examples:
Results may or may not be quantifiable but be sure to list them for every project so your potential client understands how you made a difference. If your work isn’t quantifiable, say something qualitative. Examples:
Remember, clients want to hire someone who is effective, not just smart. Take a critical look and make sure you describe the impact of your work. This is usually more important than how you did it.
Here are 15 suggestions for presenting yourself as an excellent management consultant. (Nice use of an actual number; did you catch that? ;-)
Finally, just for fun, here is the worst résumé we’ve ever seen from an independent consultant. Name changed to protect the guilty.