Why your proposal CV is so important
Most management consulting firms will ask you to prepare a proposal or staffing CV. Basically, this is a standardized PowerPoint CV in terms of format and structure that every consultant creates. It is used in proposal documents as well as client communication to outline your qualification and experience. For example, if a partner wants to staff you on his project, he will often send a staffing request together with your proposal CV to the client asking for approval.
Many clients will review your qualifications quite critically, since they obviously do not want to pay high daily rates for someone with no prior experience. Basically, the better you are able to outline your qualifications and experiences that match to the context of a certain project, the higher your chances that the client will accept you to join the project. For outlining your qualifications and experiences, the proposal CV will be the single most important document, so take a special effort in preparing it!
While every firm has a slightly different template, the content sections are almost always the same:
- Personal info, incl. name, photo, position, specialization
- Education and prior jobs
- Project case studies
Ideally, you want to update your proposal CV on a regular basis and also share it with HR. Sometimes, partners will ask HR if they can recommend a junior consultant for a certain project. HR will then check proposal CVs for consultants with project experiences in a similar area.
Top 5 best practices for the perfect proposal CV
1. Create several versions
Ideally, create several versions of your proposal CV with different focuses along all assignment topics and industries you are interested in. For example, if you are interested in change management, prepare a version that is tailored towards emphasizing your prior experiences in similar areas. You can also create different case studies for one and the same project. For example, if you worked on a restructuring project, chances are high you can also create a case study based on this focusing on the change management aspects of the project. Don’t lie, but be creative!
2. Also use your internship experiences for case studies
If you are a fresh new hire and have not worked on any prior consulting projects, use your prior internship and work experiences to sell them as project case studies.
3. Make sure the quality is allright
Make sure to quality check your proposal CV. You cannot convince your potential client of your abilities, if he or she finds spelling errors in your proposal CV.
4. Don’t lie but be creative
A typical question amongst many junior consultants is how much they should lie in proposal CVs. Some might feel pressured by partners, others might want to improve their own chances of standing out. Basically, I do not recommend to lie in your proposal CV as chances are high you will get caught. Don’t say you have 5 years of consulting experience if your Linkedin profile only shows 3 years. Clients will often google you and it will definietly not improve your client relationship, if they find out you lied to them in the first place. However, you are allowed (and often encouraged) to be creative. Another unwritten rule is that you can round up when it comes to your experience. That menas, if you have a little more than 2 years of experience, you can round it up to 3 years.
5. Structure your project case studies
Finally, when writing your project case studies, try to follow the same structure: First, outline the problem or challenge of the client. Second, describe the actions you took. Third, state the results of your project. Ideally, you can quanitfy the results. Try to really condense case studies to only a few bullets and always focus on what experiences you want to emphasize in the different versions of your proposal CV (see point 1).