Is having a series of consulting roles on your resume automatically a red flag? It depends. If you don’t take responsibility for the net impact of how these projects are represented within your work history, then definitely! Perception is crucial when it comes to elevating your visibility during the job search and earning an offer. Former consultants often make the mistake of losing control of the narrative surrounding their specific circumstances.
Here are three effective strategies for presenting multiple, short-term or part-time consulting projects on your resume.
3 Ways to Defeat “Consulting-itis” During a Job Search
1. Restructure the resume.
The Consolidation Method
When you consolidate, you create a standalone “job” within the “Professional Experience” section that brings together several years of consulting work. The years you took on these roles do not have to be sequential, but think about the themes that connect them. You want your overall experience to appear cohesive and logical.
Next, insert a series of bullet points, at least one per consulting role, that give an overview of your overall impact.
Here’s an example of how you could structure this section:
Company Name: Independent Consulting- Strategic Business Development, Digital Marketing, and Lean Innovation
Dates: 2008-2011, 2013-2015
Job Title: Principal
- Served as Senior Consultant for [Insert Company Name] for the launch of a new global eCommerce platform, surpassing aggressive targets through [Insert metrics X, Y, and Z].
- Served as Senior Marketing Director (Consultant) for [Insert Second Company Name]…
The Breakout Method
A breakout is a more serious restructuring move—only consider this option when you have extensive history consulting and it overwhelms your experience as a full-time employee.
In this scenario, after the “Professional Experience” section, add a new separate section titled “Consulting Engagements.” Use this space to dive into your consulting projects in-depth.
If you choose this layout, commit to it. Add as much detail, passion, and focus as you would a full-time position. Attach metrics to your performance when it’s appropriate, and use multiple points per project.
2. Build high-level relationships.
Don’t be intimidated by networking and pursuing opportunities at the C-suite, SVP, and Senior Director levels—these people have a different perspective on what constitutes a valuable hire compared to lower-level gatekeepers. The top leadership doesn’t care if your qualifications match up with a job posting. They’re interested in identifying and solving problems that affect the business.
Pain points are where you can capitalize on your unique perspective as a consultant. Make this a core component of your brand (especially on LinkedIn), and you’ll develop a network of decision-makers with the power to offer an inside track to hiring.
Come interview time, position yourself as someone whose with extensive experience consulting and a unique value-add. Really own it—businesses benefit from working with someone with exposure to a lot of different organizations and leadership styles.
In my experience, 90% of a successful job search involves unlearning the “good candidate” tips we’ve been taught and adapting an entrepreneurial stance instead.
Are you marketing yourself as an executive or a manager?
3. Center your brand around your consulting experience.
Are you worried about a “Gotcha!” moment when the interviewer will ask about your unconventional work history? Avoid it by raising the issue on your own.
Discuss the challenges, learning moments, and hard-won victories you gained consulting. Don’t shirk away from your experience—it gave you exclusive insights and is a powerful differentiator. Most other candidates won’t have the “in the trenches” expertise you’ve spent years refining.
Don’t let “consulting-itis” hold you back from taking the shot. Own it and leverage your perspective.
Most people agonize over finding ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors. An unconventional career trajectory makes you exceptional.
How to make the leap from consulting to C-suite.