If you have taken the decision to become a consultant in your field, then congratulations! It can make for a rewarding and varied life. Initially, you will probably find opportunities for work through second-degree connections – contacts of your contacts. Having a mutual connection will probably ensure they take your call, but you will also need a winning CV to really progress your case.
What to highlight
Qualifications and expertise
Ensure that all relevant education is included, particularly your degrees and professional qualifications. However, also remember to include relevant training e.g. SAP or Excel. For a company that needs consulting expertise in SAP, your knowledge of it would be big plus.
Make sure your areas of expertise are clear to the reader. This includes the industries and sectors in which you have direct knowledge and exposure e.g. Not-for profit, financial services, public sector. And remember that this doesn’t have to be just employed work. It can also incorporate personal or unpaid activities, such as charity work, leisure pursuits or any volunteering you have done.
Employers, Voluntary activities and Schools
If your previous employers are well-known names or specialists in their field, you will often gain kudos from your connection with them. Organisations often take a measure of comfort from knowing that you have an association with market leaders and this can help you. The thinking goes, ‘œIf they liked you, you must be good.’ And this doesn’t just apply to employers. It can also apply to organisations you helped in a voluntary capacity and even the schools and universities you attended. Names can strengthen your consulting credentials, so highlight where relevant.
When describing your career history, by all means include your key responsibilities, but concentrate on the outcomes of your activities. Avoid doing a copy and paste exercise from your previous job descriptions and instead focus on what you achieved while doing the job. For example:
‘œLed a team of four business coordinators, in collating weekly sales figures from three office locations. Analysed the information and identified the best seasonal performing products. Used this information to recommend optimal product areas to concentrate upon at different periods, which in turn helped to increase sales volume by 12 percent.’
It can be very effective to create a section dedicated to the project work in which you have been involved. This can be formal or informal – let you mind wander when considering your past experience and try to come up with as many examples as possible. When describing examples think of projects or assignments in consultancy terms, as case studies. Include in your CV details such as:
- Organisation’s name and location
- Objective of project
- Budget or cost implications
- Background (including organisational sector)
- Your contribution
- Process you followed
- Internal and external stakeholders
Many consulting jobs require liaising with different parts of the business, including departments and functions. This can often be crucial to the success of a project as a consultant seeks to learn how things are currently done so that s/he can then identify what changes should be made and their impact on the company’s operations.
Try and identify examples where you have demonstrated effective stakeholder management. What departments have you interacted with? Bear in mind both internal and external stakeholders.
Also important are examples of leadership. Think of instances where you have dealt with challenging situations, inter-personal conflicts, meeting deadlines or managed stressful situations effectively, it will greatly help your cause.