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Application: Creating a Consulting perfect Resume and Cover Letter...Save Me From Failures!!!

Josephine asked on Sep 17, 2016 - 21 answers

Please what is the best way to write a resume and cover letter that deemed successful?.... Sincerely, I have made more than 10 applications and failed in all... at McKinsey, Bain and Company...BCG .. in Nigeria... Kept amending my resumes severally from Victor Cheng's advice and changing accounts but all were rejected at application level... My conditions : Am a microbiologist from Nigeria... graduated with BSc from an unknown / unreputed university... Just a beginner in consulting.... Please I need your help pals... I need you guys to guide me through please....

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replied on Sep 19, 2016
Experienced strategy consultant, now running own consulting business
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I don't want to rain on your parade, but as this platform should also serve for some tough feedback (how else would you learn?), I am going to deliver some.

What are consulting firms looking for when they hire junior people?

I would say, it boils down to four major things:

1. Raw intelligence

2. Ability to analyse problems, come up with hypotheses for a solution and a plan how to confirm these hypotheses.

3. Ability to structure both the analysis and the suggested solutions

4. Sellability - i.e. the necessary demeanor (behavior, language, style, appearance) to be able to send this young person to a client and charge a ton of money for it.

And unless you are a totally different person "in the real world" I seriously doubt that you would make the cut.


Because your posts exhibit a total lack of points 2 through 4.

  • I assume that you are highly intelligent, so base 1 is covered.
  • On 2: you have started to come up with ONE hypothesis why your applications are failing - your resume. What about others? How have you confirmed this hypothesis? You have tried to come up with a solution (amendments following V.C. advice), but you have no clue whether your resume is actually the problem. Besides that, your post also shows that you haven't done your homework - basic research. I mean, come on, as a member of this platform it should not be so hard to figure out what MBB means?
  • On 3: Structure? Your posts are random ramblings, incomplete sentences, typos, littered with "...", and no clear line of questioning or argumentation.
  • On 4: Closely related to No. 3 - which client is going to pay for someone who shows embarassing knowledge gaps, does not observe basic etiquette in writing and communicating with others and basically expects others to do their work for them?

Sorry to be so harsh.

Now you might say "hey, this is just a social network, we're all "pals" here, when it's about work I am a lot more serious".

But guess what: Wrong! This is serious, and we're not all pals here, we're professional advisors who happen to share some of their time, knowledge and advice for free. Maybe because some like helping, maybe because some expect help in return, maybe because it's good for business. It doesn't matter.

What matters is that time of everyone who you are asking for help is valuable, so it is just plain inconsiderate to expect major help (" Please I need more of your advice"), when you yourself could have probably a ton more beforehand. You show up for training with your running shoes on, not still in pyjamas!

Accept the fact that no one can do the work for you, or you will get eaten alive first week on the job. We can just try to lend a helping hand once in a while.

Hope that helps,


PS: Please don't understand this as criticism against you as a person - after all, we don't know each other, so who am I to judge. I may also be completely wrong in my assessment based on your posts here - you might just be a totally different person in real life. Then ignore everything I said ;-)

Best of luck!

replied on Dec 17, 2017
I am here to get you an offer! | Got 8 offers including the 3 MBBs and non MBB like Wyman, Roland Berger, Strategy&...
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Hi Lenny,
For your CV; I would advise the following steps :

- Use a simple yet powerful CV plan :

education , professionnal experience, projects and business games (optional), additional capabilities (languages, technology, extracullicular)

-For the education part : precise your GPA/metric used in your country if it is relevant and the business related courses

-For the professional experience: Quantify your achievements and use action verbs for your experience. For example: Created a new financial model for 4 M&A Projects, in order to save 9 hours of additional work

- for the languages section: precise your level when it is above conversational

- for the CV layout : keep it simple. Two colours maximum. Highlight the important parts. Do not mess with bold and italic because it has a certain meaning in consulting firms

Best of luck and do not hesitate to reach out to me by private message.


Norah, Could you please clarify what the meaning of bold and italic are in consulting? Thanks. — Odeh on Dec 18, 2017 (edited)

Luke replied on Sep 17, 2016


You seem like an earnest guy so I'll spend some time on your question. Like you, I graduated with a BS in Biomedical Science from a nontarget school. I ended up getting interviews from MBB+Strategy& but rejected from Deloitte, ATK, Accenture, etc. This highlights the problem in your question. As a consultant you'll learn the most important thing isn't the answer, but first the question that you're asking.

Your resume is not the problem here. Your question is. Inherently, you assume that with a good enough resume you'll be able to get into a consulting firm. Especially from a nontarget school, that's false. What gets you into a consulting firm is networking plain and simple. Have a good resume, good consulting prep, good interview skills but you come from a no name school and no connections? Tough luck, it'll be a hard sell to a consulting firm simply because of numbers. Review the Victor Cheng material on networking and you'll be fine.

What you're really asking is how can I, a microbiologist from Nigeria, get into a top consulting firm. To answer that question in full takes much more than this space, and frankly coaching costs hundreds if not thousands of dollars to do that. If you have the money, there are prep services like at preplounge and others on the internet.

The thing I want to emphasize as others have is, do you really want to go into consulting? "I am passionate about problem solving and business efficiency." Your answer is way too generic and leads me to believe you don't really understand the role at hand. As a microbiologist, have you had experiencein business efficiency? If you want to solve problems, why don't you become a doctor, lawyer, nurse, or any other position in the world? I'm asking this question of you because I had the SAME exact thoughts going into work at Strategy&. Not thinking about this closely enough led me to leave the firm to pursue work which I really wanted to do. This isn't to discourage you. If you can find a better answer, it should motivate you even more to go towards consulting. If it doesn't lead to a better answer though, you may want to reconsider.

All the best to you and I wish you a world of happiness.



replied on Jan 30, 2018
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Internal (consultancy) recruiters usually have a software (or even do so manually by setting up a spreadsheet) that screens the resumes by filtering and scoring them across several dimensions. Usually these dimensions are:

-School tier/rank (based on company's internal tier/rank definition, but very similar to published ones)

-Grade average/GPA

-Previous work experience relevancy and likelyhood to transfer skills

-Previous employer tier/rank (based on company's internal tier/rank definition)

-Languages known and proficiency

-Test scores (GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, ...)

-Software/Analytical tools skills

-Internal company scoring of candidate if participated in company events

Resumes are filtered, scored and then ranked according to these (and more) dimensions. Once filtered recruiter might/might not read cover letter to further reduce the number of resumes to be considered for interview/invite to an event.

Hope it helps,


replied on Jan 30, 2018
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Agree with the list below. Some offices may have automated the process but for sure a lot of work is still done manually. Thus make sure that you have the keywords in your resume (universities, brands, etc). The most important is - the ranges for these criteria are not set in stone. There may be a lot of factors influencing the cut-offs:

  1. Targeted recruiting. For example, the Firm may decide to hire more MBAs rather than pure experienced hires. Or the Firm may hire more female candidates and thus more females will pass the screening. Some offices have the special recruiting cycles for technical and non-technical graduates
  2. Competition - for example among all MBAs they will hire more graduates from top universities. And among them, the screening will pass only the people whom their ex-mbb classmates personally recommended.
  3. Office specifics - in some offices like New York it's hard to pass the screening even if you have a referral
  4. Economic cycle - in a bad year it gets harder to get in

...and many others. You should do your best (Resume, CL, get a referal, smartly select the preferable offices) and keep your fingers crossed.


replied on Sep 17, 2016
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If you want it, you will find a way. This thread has everything you need. Please book a meeting if you want to discuss more

Anonymous replied on Feb 24, 2018

Hey Sukhrat,

Can you clarify what do you mean with your question? Are you referring to how to write your CV in the best way to enhance your chances to be shortlisted for an interview or are you referring to which (extra-)activities can you try to perform over the next 2-3 months to improve your CV?

If it's the second option, please check the thread below where I've addressed that question:



Thank you for the answer. Yes, it was the second one. My question is basically is: what are examples of consulting projects I can do to add to my resume? Are there online resources or playgrounds I can accomplish in order to add it to resume? — Anonymous on Feb 24, 2018

Josephine replied on Sep 17, 2016

Thanks a lot Mr Guennael.... I really appreciate your contribution, but I still need to be clarified on this your recommendation,.. "lower your sights a ltitle bit. OK to apply to MBB, but if they do the show interest you need to apply to the tier 2 and boutique firms. Say you get in, you can always reapply to MBB in a couple of years with a much stronger profile"...Enlighten me more about applying to Tier 2 and boutique firms... What do you mean by that?.... Even the abbreviation, MBB.... Throw more light.. Please

Anita replied on Sep 17, 2016

Hi Josephine, WOULD BE HAPPY TO HELP FINE TUNE YOUR COVER LETTER/CV. I always pass through the screening stage due to some tips I would like to share.

We can chat up

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