One in one hundred. That’s how many applicants for consultant’s position get the final green signal to join big firms.
One of their secrets to success: the quality of their cover letters and resume. Here, let’s take a closer look at the major ingredients of an appealing cover letter.
If you are applying for the position of consultant at top companies such as McKinsey, Accenture, Deloitte, and KPMG, your application cover letter should indicate your motivation and potential.
A well-written cover letter acts as a perfect introduction for a resume, by not only reflecting your personal traits but also by providing highlights of your education and employment.
A good management consulting cover letter gives the recruiters your story in a nutshell. It spurs them to read your resume and add it to the filtered list for interview invites.
Your scorer will have a hundred or more applications to evaluate every day in addition to his/her normal duties, and your letter better be readable.
Since the company is investing time going through your application, your cover letter needs to quickly and fully answer three questions:
In other words, these questions are, respectively: Why you? Why consulting? Why this firm?
Looking back on your experiences, selecting the relevant ones, and writing about them is what you do in your cover letter.
Your cover letter is also a test of your writing skills, which you will be depending on in all spheres of your work as a consultant, such as crafting emails, making presentations, and preparing Word documents.
The main ingredients of a management consulting cover letter, if you are an experienced candidate, are information about your career and key features of your personality.
You should highlight your professional caliber that would make you an efficient consultant and your personal flexibility that would allow you to work with people from different cultural backgrounds.
Flexibility is particularly important since a consultant’s job requires traveling to clients’ business centers, grasping the problems of the business quickly, and suggesting solutions.
Let your cover letter also reflect your communication and leadership skills.
You can start by introducing yourself: What was your previous job? What were the tasks assigned to you and what were some of your projects? Which graduate or business school did you go to?
Briefly say which position you are interested in interviewing for and why you chose the company. If you can refer to one of the company’s projects, spoke to an employee, or listened to a talk given by a top company official, you will earn brownie points.
Move on to what your experience at your previous companies and jobs has taught you. What did you do in your previous job that gives you the relevant experience and skills?
If possible, quantify your achievements and provide a sense of international exposure, if you have it; for example, say:
Over the course of a four-year tenure, I helped 100 clients in Paris, Dubai, and Singapore cut down costs by a minimum of 20 percent.
Write about how you managed your leadership roles or completed responsibilities and tasks assigned to you as a project team member.
Scan your experiences to gather the reasons why you enjoy consulting. What are you doing in your current job that has taken your interest forward? What are you looking forward to achieving in the future? It will help you if you have work experience or done an internship in consulting.
The objective is to show that you know about consulting. Never say that you want to gain experience and move on to something else.
What are you professional benefits from joining this firm? Do you wish to learn more in a particular area and do you want to interact with clients?
Stress how you are an excellent fit for a consultant’s position in the company by mentioning your personality and the work environment about which you may have heard or read about before.
If you have been inspired by someone from the company you met, say that.
If you have no experience, you may include relevant projects that you have done or are doing in business or graduate school. Refer to any relevant internships.
Mention what you are learning, or have learned, and how the topics or the school environment make you an ideal candidate.
How did your graduate school impart flexibility (ability to work with different people, developed by participation in extracurricular and club activities, and by school environment, etc.)? How did you hobbies or interests impact your personality?
You have only a few sentences to show that you are excited about the job and the prospect of working for the company. Mention projects or internships relevant to consulting or relevant part-time work you took up as a student.
Speak about your leadership and team-building skills and how you were able to secure the cooperation of other members at your student club. Show that you will be a good fit.
The final element of a cover letter is common for both experienced and other candidates.
This is a “call to action” to the recruiter, mentioning that you are enclosing your resume and that you would love to receive an interview call. Thank them for their time and consideration.
There are a few phrases that make a cover letter stand out particularly for an experienced candidate. Among them are “thrive in high-pressure situations,” “embrace new challenges,” “adapt to new challenges,” “think beyond the boundaries,” and “find innovative solutions.”
Of course, it is not necessary to use these phrases as they are, and they only provide examples to how a cover letter could be phrased.
Generally, consulting companies seek skills and accomplishments in four categories: problem-solving, accomplishments, personal impact, and leadership.
It’s a good idea to match the skills that companies seek with your achievements, while writing your cover letter.
Under “problem-solving,” relevant coursework, consulting or internship experience, and researches can be mentioned. Awards and honors that you received as a student or as a professional form part of “accomplishments.”
“Personal impact” can include the people of different backgrounds that you met and language and communication skills that you have picked up. Positions that you held in school or university committees and clubs and in your organization’s group projects can take their place under “leadership.”
You obviously won’t be mentioning all your skills and achievements in the cover letter. Choose the ones that are most relevant.
If you’re an experienced professional, try to quantify your achievements. If you are just out of school, mention the coursework, extracurriculars, and internships.
Check and recheck your contact details given in the cover letter. You cannot afford to miss an interview call or a notification about a recruitment test because of an error in your phone number or email address.
Address the letter to the appropriate official in the company where you hope to interview. If you’re giving the name of the person concerned, check show he or she spells her name and the designation.
Don’t forget to mention the date on which you are sending your application.
Your cover letter may consist of three to five paragraphs and should fill just one page. It may not do you any good to make the recruiter turn over to a second page.
Here, you should use your written communication skills to limit the number of words.
How do you do that?
One way is to review and revise your draft at least a couple of times. You will do well to make revisions the day after first drafting the cover letter, so as to be able to see things with a “fresh pair of eyes.”
You could also ask a family member, friend, or teacher to give their suggestions and proof-read your work.
Again, remember that form and content of your cover letter are important since writing skills will be a considerable part of your job as a management consultant.
The main ingredients for a cover letter of analyst are the same except that you could mention any master’s degree course that you are doing are planning to do in the near future.
Also mention any experience that you have in organizational restructuring, statistics, business accounting, and of course, management consulting, or any internships you have done.
Stress your ability to analyze data for problems related to production and observe the staff involved in daily operations.
You should also write about your talent to report problems and analyze them well enough to suggest solutions and implement them.
Your ability to take difficult decisions such as staff reduction and work long hours should find a place in your cover letter. But prepare to provide examples.
An associate’s role often involves supporting executive staff in business and technical functions, and you should mention your abilities on this score.
Among other skills you could mention: formulating problem and analysis data; compiling data and assessment; interviewing clients; and creating client presentations.
As an associate, you may have some work experience, and you could mention accomplishments such as ability to parse data; build teams and cultivate client relationships; technical and quantitative analytics and research; work on multiple projects at once; implement strategy; resolve technical issues quickly; individual and team-oriented results; and proven track record of success.