What Bain looks for in a resume

As consulting firms grow, they keep expanding their search for top-tier talent. In 2020, Bain plans to bring 600 consultants on board, many of the MBAs, as well as over 200 interns, according to a recent interview with Keith Bevans, chief MBA recruiter at Bain & Company.

While consulting class sizes may be increasing, competition for these slots remains fierce. Bevans breaks down his analysis of incoming resumes into three main questions: Are you smart? Were you an impact player? And can you make it happen? Let’s look at each of these categories in more detail.

Are you smart?
Your resume needs to highlight your academic achievements clearly. Your GPA and GMAT or other test scores should be shared. If there is a blemish on your academic record, you need to find a way to highlight your academic strengths on your resume to offset any impact from a less than stellar GPA. Firms are also going to evaluate the strength of your undergraduate and graduate institutions. A firm like Bain will be looking for the most highly selective schools. However, firms will also take into consideration other factors that can play a role in school selection or GPA. Were you the first in your family to attend college? Were you a Division 1 athlete? Did you work full-time to put yourself through school? Did you receive significant merit-based scholarships? All of these data points help paint a better picture of your abilities.

Were you an impact player?
As opposed to other careers, where prior experience is often necessary, Bevans explains that he is not looking for prior consulting experiences with his candidates. Instead, he is looking for individuals who were able to make a difference for their departments or companies. Your descriptions of your work responsibilities and achievements are the heart of your resume. You must be able to show quantifiable evidence of your results. Being at a small firm is not a disadvantage – it is better to show how you achieved a 20% increase in sales in a smaller firm than to state that you managed a large budget, but with no data on how you performed.

Can you make it happen?
This question ties directly into your leadership potential. In addition to your work experience, you may want to include key extracurricular or volunteer experiences that allow you to highlight your skills and abilities. Look for examples of how you set stretch goals, overcame obstacles, and achieved your results. Include details of how you mentored others or contributed to a strong team environment.

Providing the answers to these three key questions will help you stand out from the crowd. Bevans states, “I think what a lot of students miss is telling me they did something and giving evidence they were good at it. That tells me you’re thinking about the results and that’s what I need for my clients.” Make sure your resume tells your full story.

By Stephanie Horn (Managing Consultant) and Matt Strickler (Senior Advisor), Consulting Career Academy at The MBA Exchange