Mensa, Fulbright Scholarships, Olympic Medals on Resumes


I've been following your emails with interest since October. I want to apply for Strategy firms later this year, so it is likely that I will be purchasing LOMS soon and gearing up for some serious case-study practice.

Today I looked at your consulting cover letter and consulting resume advice. You advise applicants to "1) Get your brand names into the first sentence or paragraph (You know… Harvard, your Olympic Medals, etc…:)".

I studied at Oxford University and have been working in consulting for PricewaterhouseCoopers for over a year. So I'll obviously be putting both those brands into my application.

But I was recently accepted as a member of Mensa and I want to know whether it would be worth highlighting this brand in a Consulting application, or if it would just come across as stuck-up, irrelevant, self-important, etc.

What do you think? How would an MBB resume screener react to this?

My Reply:

Definitely include Mensa on the resume/cv.  Anything selective, exclusive, very hard to get, etc... is very appealing to MBB.  This includes Rhodes Scholarships, Fulbright Scholarships, Olympic Medals, etc...

I would put these accomplishments in the category of impressive but only tangentially relevant.

The reason to include it is most clients do not have these accomplishments, so it gives them bragging rights that they have someone from Mensa working on their XYZ business problem.

On the cover letter, you want to mention Mensa but not over-emphasize it.

If you over-emphasize it, it suggests you think it is more important than it is (which can come across as self important).

The best way to do this is to including it, but only in passing reference.

One way to do this in a cover letter is to put it in parentheses.  "I'm a graduate of XYZ University (2010, BA (your major) GPA: ___, Rank: ____, Graduated Cum Laude, Member of Mensa)"

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