A lot of people tend to focus solely on preparing for the case interview. In some aspects, this is understandable, as solving a case is definitely the most complex obstacle standing between you and your dream employment.
However, think of it this way. If you spend all your time preparing for the case, yet you don’t even get a chance to solve it because your consulting cover letter hasn’t impressed the recruiter – was it worth your time?
Why is the Cover Letter so Important?
There is one thing about recruiting in top-level consulting firms such as McKinsey, BCG, or Bain that you must know. Recruiting managers are swarmed with hundreds, even thousands of applications all the time.
Going through them all thoroughly would be nigh impossible. That’s why they don’t tend to spend more than 7-10 seconds on each individual application. That’s the timeframe that you have to catch their eye and make them read your consulting cover letter to the end instead of throwing it into the bin.
This is why it is important to create an eye-catching consulting cover letter that will get you through to the next stage of your job application. You will need to sum up all your greatest skills and achievements and highlight them without drowning the recruiter with unnecessary information that will make him bin your letter and move on to the next one.
If you’re still not convinced after going through this short article, we urge you to take a look at this consulting cover letter’s ultimate guide.
How to Do it
This article will help you get the hang of it. How to format your letter, what to write down, and what to avoid in order to increase your chances of getting called up for the interview.
1. Formatting the Letter
This is the one bit where you really don’t need to stand out. Adding unnecessary design bits and weird fonts will only have a negative effect, be certain of it. There are plenty of acceptable, reasonable looking templates to find online that you can use to format your own consulting cover letter. Keep the fonts normal, margins regular, and don’t go overboard with the length of your paragraphs.
Generally, try to limit yourself to just one page, unless you have really substantial previous experience that can’t fit onto a single page. Remember to put your full name, address and city, and email at the top of the page.
2. What to Write Down
The most important thing you want to highlight in your consulting cover letter is the traits you have that are wanted in this business. So any skills you have that involve communication with people, leadership, adaptability, and the like – highlight them.
Another thing you should try to do is to personalize your letter. Avoid generic phrases and forms that they will be swarmed with anyway, and do your best to show that specific company that it’s them you’re interested in and explain why you would be a perfect fit there.
To do that, you will need to do your research about the company, of course, but we take it that you’ve already intended to do that. If you’re really aiming for a top-placed consulting company, that’s really the bare minimum that you can do.
This is Not a Resume
Unlike with your resume, don’t just list your skills and achievements here. Take your time to tell a story, explain them in more detail. In fact, the best thing you can do is link your skills to your achievements.
Point out your greatest successes in your previous positions or experiences, and mention what skills of yours helped you achieve them. This is a great way to get two birds with one stone while demonstrating that you actually know how to apply your skills practically.
So instead of generic text like “Helped increase the profitability of the company by 5%”, go for a more eloquent and personalized approach such as “By eliminating unnecessary expenses and optimizing revenue, I have directly contributed to an increase in profitability of the company by a staggering 5%.”
3. What to Avoid
One thing you should avoid at all costs is swarming your letter with unnecessary information. Always ask yourself if what you’re writing is something that the recruiter needs to hear, and whether it makes you stand out in comparison to most other applicants.
While you should highlight your achievements and skills as we mentioned before, try to narrow it down to a few key achievements, and keep to the point.
Another thing you want to avoid is your achievements from a very early age, as those will mostly have no effect on what you do currently. So sports medals from when you were a kid, high school grades, extracurriculars – forget about them for now.
If you have some skills or traits that you deem worth pointing out – feel free to mention them, as long as they will have an impact on your work. Every recruiter likes a well-rounded candidate that is diverse and skilled in multiple fields.
Done some volunteering work that can be related to your profession? Excellent! Write it down, and add a few details, what was your job description there, and what achievements have you reached while doing it.
If you speak more than one language – it’s a no-brainer. Mention all the languages that you speak in your consulting cover letter, and always follow it up with your level of expertise. Nobody is expecting you to be fluent in all of them, so feel free to write down the ones in which you consider yourself to have at least a working knowledge level.
We understand that the pressure of the case interview is enough to occupy your attention fully. And naturally, most of your time preparing will be spent preparing the interview itself.
However, we urge you to give yourself at least a full day or two to work on your consulting cover letter, because it is simply a fact that if your letter does not catch the recruiter’s eye by standing out from the rest – you will not get called up. And what a waste of a good case interview preparation that would be, wouldn’t it?