Most candidates severely underestimate the importance of a well-written consulting cover letter. Because the cover letter is read BEFORE the resume (and before the case interview), it is chronologically the most important step in the application process because it is the FIRST step.
If your cover letter is extremely weak, your resume will be discarded UNREAD. If your cover letter is mediocre, at best your resume will be skimmed for a few brief seconds as the reader is moving the letter to the reject pile.
The cover letter plays two key roles.
First, it conveys a well-reasoned ARGUMENT as to why you are a strong candidate, why the reader should actually look at your resume, and why they should interview you. Many cover letters summarize a candidate’s entire career history. Your “life story” is not an argument for why the firm should interview you! Don't assume that since all the information is in your life story that surely the recruiter will be able to figure out why they should interview you.
Second, a consulting cover letter is an (unannounced) writing sample test. If you can not write an effective cover letter when your career is on the line, how can the recruiter trust you to write a memo to a client when the firm’s reputation is on the line. Answer: They can't. If they can't trust you, they will not bother wasting their time to look at your resume, let alone grant you a case interview.
Consulting Cover Letter Tips
1) Do not use a form letter! Write a personalized letter explaining why you are a good fit for that SPECIFIC firm.
(Recruiters hate form letters. It signals you are too lazy to do your homework about the firm, aren't that interested, and are unwilling to put in the time to apply properly. Also it's glaringly obvious to us when you use a form letter.)
2) State in the first sentence of the first paragraph that you are applying for a job (you'd be shocked how often this isn't done) and WHICH job you are applying for and in which office.
(Don't write to a firm with 1,000 job openings in 50 countries saying you are applying for any job you are qualified for.)
3) Make a well-structured, evidence-based ARGUMENT for why the firm should interview you.
(I don't need a three-page letter on why you think McKinsey is a great place to work. I need to know why YOU would be a great consultant for McKinsey.)
To help you write an effective cover letter, I've put together my Consulting Cover Letter Toolkit. This toolkit explains in detail what recruiters are looking for and why. In includes 20 actual cover letters that secured interviews and job offers at McKinsey, Bain and BCG.
In addition, I took 100 actual candidate cover letters and screened them using the same standard I used when was at McKinsey. I created accept / reject piles of cover letters; and provide you with the cover letters that I accepted and explain why.
Further, I took several cover letters that I rejected and I rewrote them to a level where they met the criteria to be accepted. You see the “before” versus “after” versions, and I provide a screen-sharing video explanation as to what I changed and why.
To my knowledge, this Consulting Cover Letter Toolkit is the most comprehensive compilation of successful consulting cover letters that have been verified to work (I have an archive of the actual offer letters by the applicant that wrote each cover letter that worked).
Finally, I've distilled all of the knowledge and lessons learned and distilled them into an editable consulting cover letter template. Simply follow the template and you will automatically avoid 80% of the most common errors applicants tend to make in their cover letters.
Consulting Cover Letter Toolkit Contents
- Overview Video - My tips on the objective of a good cover letter, insights into who is reading your letter, their mindset and what they are looking for so you can effectively write your cover letter to that audience;
- Actual Cover Letters - real candidate cover letters:
- 20 Successful Cover Letters, proven to work so you can study and learn from what worked;
- Top 20% Cover Letters from the candidates I would interview with my notes on what stood out in their letters so you can apply them to your own;
- Cover Letters that needed improvement, with before vs. after my edits versions so you can see what mistakes people make, how to fix them, and the improvements recruiters look for;
- Commentary Videos -- my commentary on each of the three groups of cover letters, what I noticed, why I noticed it, why I made the changes I did, so you can learn from these improvements;
- Editable Cover Letter Template with an Explanation Guide so you can use a proven approach to create your own successful cover letter.
- The investment for the Basic Cover Letter Toolkit is ordinarily $97, but because you just purchased the Resume Toolkit, you can get this resource today for just $48.50 - that's 50% off the regular price.
- The program is delivered digitally. You will get download instructions within 15 minutes of purchase.
- We use industry-standard Mp4 and Adobe Acrobat pdf files that can be used across all major computing platforms.