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Writing the perfect consultant CV

Building a successful consultancy career in the right way may seem like a very tough and daunting thing to do. However, for many people, creating a 2 or 3 page summary document that encapsulates your experience, your achievements, your qualities and the core traits of your personality is even harder.

Always be prepared

You may think that as a consultant you don’t actually need a CV, but often if you are part of a project team, you will be asked for a CV. Better to have it ready and available, just in case. It is also an excellent opportunity for reflection on your past glories, so don’t miss this chance to bring to the fore the successes and skills you may have forgotten you had.

What does a good consultant’s CV look like?

This is a consultancy CV. You are evaluating all of your skills, knowledge and personal qualities and then presenting them in a different light, showing that you can offer flexibility and versatility with an immediate impact. Given the complexity of what you have achieved, you are likely to create a number of versions of your career history, emphasising different areas of your experience that match the needs of prospective clients. A standardised CV will instantly reduce your chances of success.

Once you have created the best CV that you can, you can use this to improve your profile on our networks; you can use it to bolster your online presence and it can sit at the centre of any communication that is about you.

Where to start with writing your consultancy CV?

The first challenge is to make sure that you get the facts straight, so take the time to go through your entire education and career, getting down all of the facts and the dates so that you have a complete inventory, allowing you to select the relevant points for your CV. You won’t be including everything, but this is a thorough and systematic approach that will lead to success. It is the starting point of a generic CV. It is giving you the opportunity to go back over the years and it will probably bring to the surface things you had forgotten. However tempting it might be to guess, embellish or exaggerate, don’t do it. Make sure you check with your other online profiles, such as LinkedIn, to be sure that the dates and the facts correlate.

A CV should always be in reverse chronological order. Always include a one line description of every company, with sector, turnover, location and products, together with a website link.

Achievements are much more powerful than responsibilities

Rather than describe responsibilities in your CV, you need to describe achievements and successes, so create a comprehensive list from every role. These are the kind of achievements that will be sufficiently impressive to attract the interest of prospective clients. As a consultant you will need to manage a lot of relationships and be able to adapt to many different styles so find a way to demonstrate your skills in getting results through people. Be ready with examples that you can use to show your successes, following the principle of ‘show, don’t tell’.

Creating a winning personal profile

At the top of every CV is a short paragraph that is a summary of your skills and experience. In a profile, every word counts and the opening sentence is the most powerful and the most important. It needs to be compelling. Profiles that begin with ‘I am a retired civil servant’ or

‘I am a solicitor’ or ‘I am an independent consultant’ or ‘hard working individual’ do not have the same power as someone who sets out a confident assertion of who they are.

‘A skilled business leader and profit generator, who has a track record of delivering tangible results in short time scales’ is positioning themselves immediately and in very few words. Writing it in the third person helps to see it as something that is factual rather than personal. The best way to move into the mindset and adopt the right vocabulary is to read other people’s profiles. It will not take you long to see the profiles that make an impact on you, so analyse the style and the vocabulary and experiment with your own profile and you will see how it improves.

9 top tips for the perfect consultant CV

  • The CV should be no more than 2 pages long.
  • The most common error in a huge percentage of CVs is spelling mistakes - employers find them to be the most irritating. Check and double check.
  • A photo - in this world of open communication through social media, a photo is usually expected, so make sure it’s a professional shot.
  • Font, style and size. This is not an opportunity to stand out for the wrong reason. Presenting a document in 8 pt so that you can squeeze more words on the page is merely irritating. Conservative restraint will give the reader an easy experience and, in the process, it will endear you to them.
  • The CV format. Check out formats through Google search and choose one that you like. There are many template available - be ready to experiment and change.
  • Leisure pursuits on the CV - they have no relevance unless you are listing charitable works or voluntary roles that give an indication of your values.
  • Date of birth. Age discrimination is illegal so it’s not relevant or needed to include your date of birth.
  • CVs need to have up to date contact information with mobile phone numbers and email addresses. It is astonishing how often these are overlooked, so make sure that it’s easy for people to find you.
  • Saving the file - when you save the file electronically, name it with your name and today’s date, not ‘My CV’ that will get lost in someone else’s filing system.

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