What we look for in a resume/CV
Our resume/CV reviewers look for evidence of achievement in the four key skill areas outlined in what we look for . We find the following resume/CV information and structure most helpful in giving you a fair review:
We prefer to see details of graduate work and college/tertiary education first. Include your degree subject, university, degree grades, or GPA at each major milestone of your course (for example, magna cum laude overall, summa cum laude in first year) and any major prizes or awards, specifying key dates. You should also include any significant academic projects (e.g., senior thesis, major research work, etc.) that you feel help illustrate your academic ability.
Depending on your national background, it may be important that you provide details of your results in all subjects in key examinations (e.g., high school diploma, ‘A’ levels, baccalaureate grades).
Applicants who have taken standardized tests such as the GMAT, LSAT, SAT, etc. should also include their scores. Providing as much detail as possible here is key. If you have academic transcripts showing detailed grades, send us a copy. If you studied in an academic system unfamiliar to most, try where possible to translate your result to help the reviewer understand (e.g., top two percent of students nationally).
If you have work experience, emphasize what you have achieved in each major role beyond your key day-to-day responsibilities. We are most interested in the impact you have had in your career (e.g., the key things that changed because of your direct involvement). You may also describe unique skills and experiences that will help us understand the strengths you bring to the table.
Other skills and achievements
We are interested in any volunteer or charity work, or positions of responsibility in professional bodies – particularly where they demonstrate leadership, initiative-taking, or extraordinary commitment.
Similarly, you should include leadership positions, significant involvement in extracurricular activities, and significant participation in sports, games, societies, or hobbies. For example, a high level of achievement in a sport tells us something about your commitment and drive to achieve. Don’t just tell us about your hobbies; tell us what you have achieved in pursuing them.
Generally you should only include items that you feel will help us understand your strengths better (rather than including something just for the sake of having it).
Include any foreign languages for which you have business conversational ability or better. For languages, a good idea is to rate yourself as either basic, competent, or fluent.
Writing and layout Tips for resume writing and layout
We advise you to tailor your resume/CV to the employer you are sending it to, but here are some broad tips on the overall layout of a good resume/CV:
Your resume/CV should be neatly typed and clearly laid out. Use a reasonably sized font (e.g., size 10 or larger) and allow some margin around the text for reviewer’s notes. Do not be overly creative with the formatting—it will only distract from the real focus of the document, which is you. Write clearly and don’t forget to check your grammar and spelling. Include your name and contact details at the top, with daytime and evening phone numbers and an e-mail address. Lay out your prior jobs (if any) in reverse chronological order, with your most recent role at the top. It is best to list dates on the left hand side. You should be able to explain any gaps in your career or educational history. The length of your resume/CV will depend on you and your achievements—but don’t pad it out! The trick is to be concise, but not incomplete.
Remember, the person reading your resume/CV may not be familiar with your specific credentials. Avoid using any jargon. Ask friends from different backgrounds to read it for you. If they’re impressed without being confused, you’re looking good.
The first part of the candidate screening process at McKinsey is a resume review. We use a resume to help us determine whom to invite to our interviewing process. Therefore, it is important for your resume to be the best possible reflection of you and of your achievements to date.
Your resume should not only accurately reflect your achievements to date, but also provide some sense of the scale of those achievements. A successful resume will also give the reader a sense for who you are as a person, as reflected in the activities and achievements you view as important in your life.