Consulting Cover Letter Tips, Hacks, Requirements & Examples

Will B

If you’re applying for consulting positions at prestigious firms like McKinsey, Bain & BCG, then you may be wondering how to write a consulting cover letter.

The best consulting cover letters connect your past experiences with the values of the company you’re applying to. The general format is to have an opening, 3 or 4 key paragraphs where you connect the company’s values to your own experience and a close.

But the devil is in the details. So let’s dive in.

How To Write A Cover Letter For Consulting

A surefire way to write your consulting cover letter is to Google the values of your target firm and then use those values to show that your personality and past experience make you a perfect fit.

To do this, you’ll need to:

1. Google the name of the company you’re applying to (Example: Bain) and the word “values”. The top result will normally be a page on that company’s website where they list out their company values.

2. Jot down their top 3 to 4 company values.

3. Add each value to your cover letter as a bolded bullet point and, right after (or under) it, tell a to-the-point story of how you delivered on exactly that value.

4. Add an opening paragraph that expresses your interest in the company. Include one specific thing you like about that company. Be specific.

5. Add a closing that reiterates your interest.

And that’s it. This formula has helped consultants across the world land that coveted interview.

Tip: If you don’t find a “values” page in your initial Google search, try clicking around the company’s website until you find their recruitment page. There’s a good chance that they’ll list what they’re looking for on this page. Use those to craft your bullet-points.

Do Cover Letters Matter For Consulting?

MBB (McKinsey, Bain, BCG) companies have made cover letters optional. If you have a great GPA and graduated from an Ivy League school, and your resume doesn’t have any “red flags”, then you might get away with not having a cover letter.

As a general rule, cover letters help consultants get interviews. Your cover letter is your opportunity to tell the story that your resume can’t. A good cover letter can turn a mediocre application into an interview.

Keep in mind that, every day, consultants turn boring facts into convincing stories. It’s not enough to have the facts (your resume). You have to know how to turn the bland into the compelling. And if you can’t do that in your resume, then a consultancy might wonder if you can do it at all.

How Long Should My Consulting Cover Letter Be?

Recruiters for top consulting firms sift through hundreds of applications every day. So how long should your cover letter be?

Your consulting cover letter should be about a page long. You’ll want to write it to be long enough to be compelling but short enough to skim in a few seconds.

Your ability to sell yourself in a single page will be an important deciding factor on your suitability for the position you’re applying for.

Do McKinsey, Bain & BCG Require A Cover Letter?

McKinsey, Bain & BCG all state on their websites that they don’t require a cover letter but, keep in mind, a good cover letter could strengthen your application.

This is particularly important if you have any work gaps in your resume, or any red flags (like a low GPA).

How Do I Write A Cover Letter For McKinsey, Bain & BCG?

Writing a cover letter for McKinsey, Bain & BCG is pretty much the same across all 3 firms.

In all cases, you want to have a short opening paragraph, 3-5 paragraphs highlighting your strengths and how they’re linked to the company’s values, and a short closing paragraph. Focus on good, succinct storytelling while delivering specific numbers on the outcomes you’ve achieved.

What Should A Cover Letter For McKinsey, Bain & BCG Include?

According to Victor Cheng (author, ex-consultant & ex-recruiter for multiple top consulting firms), these are the 5 things recruiters look for:

1. Well-known employers or schools.

2. Academic performance.

3. High test results in Math.

4. Proof of leadership and people skills.

5. Notable achievements in your career (relative to the length of your career).

Let’s look at each.

1. Well-known employers or schools.

The company you end up working for has to sell you to their clients. If you’ve graduated from a top school, that’s an easy sell. If you’ve worked for a top firm, that’s an easy sell.

If you haven’t worked for a top firm, then you have to focus that much more on the other 4 criteria. (Or you need to get on an unpaid internship ASAP!)

2. Academic performance.

Always put your GPA in your CV. If you don’t, they’ll ask for it anyway and write it in. A 3.5 GPA is like the bare minimum and recruiters and firms won’t really bother with you if you don’t seem smart.

3. High test results in Math.

Being good at Math is strongly linked to doing well at logical and analytics tasks. You don’t need a perfect score but higher is definitely better.

4. Proof of leadership and people skills.

Being smart isn’t enough. You need to know how to work with people who may or may not dislike you. Your personality can’t get in the way of a client getting the results they want or need.

So you have to demonstrate times in the past where you were faced with a difficult situation and your people skills are what saved the day.

5. Notable achievements in your career (relative to the length of your career).

Focus on outcomes, not just responsibilities. Use numbers where possible. And focus on what’s relevant.

And balance it all against the time you spent working or studying. You don’t want to be the person who spent a few years at a firm or studying and did nothing outside of the ordinary. Every candidate studied. Every candidate worked. Focus on what you achieved that few (or no) other people achieved.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be miles ahead of your fellow candidates.

For more consulting career advice, click here.

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