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Can't seem to get past CV/ Cover Letter Screening

CV screening entry level generalist
New answer on Jun 07, 2024
7 Answers
346 Views
Belmiro asked on May 21, 2024

I often tailor the CV for each job using words from the position description. I (believe) I have strong achievements and that they are highlighted in my CV. I change my cover letter for each position also to match the skills required by the job (I'm not sure how strong it is because the people I have to review it often give uncritical feedback). 

For whatever reason I cant seem to get pas CV / Cover Letter screening. I think I'm frustrated not because I'm not getting past screening as I'm sure there are many brilliant people that are applying for the same position, but because I'm not sure whether I'm presenting myself in the best way and this is leading to my downfall. 

Where are some places where there is a bank of high level CVs/ cover letters where I can copy/ compare? Alternatively where can I go to get some really critical feedback? Where can I find resources that tell me what employers are looking for? 

Thanks for your time :)
 

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Best answer
Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 21, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Belmiro,

Sorry to hear about this. I can imagine it's frustrating. 

But it's impossible to tell what's wrong without actually seeing the documents. Feel free to send them and I can quickly scan them and tell you whether there's space for improvement. 

You should think of your application along the following pillars

1. # of applications - ensuring that you're applying at the right time, for the right firm and the right role

2. CV

3. CL

4. Referral

These are the 4 areas that you can and should be optimising for. 

For instance, did you apply with referrals for these roles? 

You might also find this article helpful:

Expert Guide: Build A Winning Application Strategy

Best,

Cristian 

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Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 22, 2024
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

Sorry to hear about the rejections. In terms of your questions: 

1) Where are some places where there is a bank of high level CVs/ cover letters where I can copy/ compare?

A good free option is to reach out to friends who passed the screening and ask if they can share their CV as a reference – this should work well as a benchmark.

2) Alternatively where can I go to get some really critical feedback?

The free option is to post your anonymized CV here in the Q&A and ask for feedback. The paid option is to hire a coach to help you to improve it.

3) Where can I find resources that tell me what employers are looking for? 

You can find some tips for a good application strategy below:

 ▶ How to Get a Consulting Interview Invitation

Good luck!

Francesco

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Charlotte Fay
Expert
replied on May 22, 2024
Senior Leader, former McKinsey engagement manager, CEO, passionate to coach you to succeed at leading consulting firms

Yes there are plenty. CV upping can be lots of fun and ist very rewarding.  1) Most importantly know it should be a fun part of the application for you. If it is not, feel free to first get outside help, then when it is already great, to improve it further. 2) Lots of structuring, great formatting and language that is achievement focused are some of the early fixes 3) Most important let your strengths and achievements shine and cover points showing you leading, shaping and - important- matter 

I wish you the best of success.

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Sidi
Expert
replied on May 25, 2024
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi Belmiro,

 

Here are some steps you can take to improve your chances:

  1. Ensure you have relevant experience for the role you are applying for. Consulting firms focus on your GPA, problem-solving skills, leadership experience, significant achievements, etc.. While you don't need to tick ALL the boxes, research what qualities they are after and try to bridge any gaps if necessary.
  2. You must make sure to highlight the relevant qualities in your CV and cover letter, and do so APPROPRIATELY. Given that only a few candidates really understand what MBB firms are looking for, this is where things become tricky.
  3. Referrals can help mitigate the risk of being rejected due to a weak CV or cover letter. The more senior the person who refers you, the higher your chances of being invited to an interview.
  4. Networking is key here. Do your homework, learn about the firm, and try to connect with current consultants. Learn about their work, the firm's values, and the recruiting process in detail.
  5. Receiving critical feedback for your application strategy could really make a difference! In an optimal scenario, you receive coaching and mentorship by experienced MBB former interviewers and recruiters, to really elevate your application and your preparation for case interviews, and, ultimately, increase your chances of landing a job offer (or even multiple offers) in top-tier consulting firms.

 

Cheers, Sidi

_______________________

Dr. Sidi Koné 

(🚀 Ex BCG & McKinsey Sr. Project Manager, now helping high potential individuals join the world's top Strategy Consulting firms (McKinsey | BCG | Bain))

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Florian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 22, 2024
1300 5-star reviews across platforms | 500+ offers | Highest-rated case book on Amazon | Uni lecturer in US, Asia, EU

Hi there,

Tailoring the application to the role and firm is a good start but there are other important things to think of when applying for top firms.

You can answer these questions yourself to determine where you stand:

  • Is your school reputable/a target school?
  • What's your GPA compared to your cohort?
  • Do you have relevant work experience with good brand names in relevant positions (e.g., quant, strategy)?
  • Do you have leadership experience outside of education and work? Are you engaged in some extracurricular activities?
  • Have you worked/studied abroad for some time?
  • Are the things mentioned above something the CV screener can see consistently?

You should be able to say Yes to most of the items above to stand a chance in the current recruiting environment.

All the best,

Florian

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Hagen
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 07, 2024
#1 Bain coach | >95% success rate | interviewer for 8+ years | mentor and coach for 7+ years

Hi Belmiro,

First of all, I am sorry to hear about your frustration with your past applications!

I would be happy to share my thoughts on your situation:

  • First of all, while I don't know of any databases for CVs and cover letters, I'm sure they wouldn't help you either, as it seems to be something more fundamental about them that isn't working in your favor.
  • Morever, given the (assumed) numerous rejections, I would highly advise you to consider working with an experienced coach. Having been interviewing for 8+ years, I am sure I will be able to identify the issues with your application files and your application more broadly.

If you would like a more detailed discussion on how to best prepare your CV and cover letter, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

Best,

Hagen

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Agrim
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 22, 2024
BCG Dubai Project Leader | Learn to think like a Consultant | Free personalised prep plan | 6+ years in Consulting

Your reasons for CV stage rejection could be quite varied. The current recruiting atmosphere is also very challenging.

Which also means that simply looking at the banks of CVs and then trying to figure out areas of improvement - may not be highly productive.

Further, getting short, generalized comments on CVs on an anonymous basis - may also not lead to the best results.

One of the best ways to work on improving your CV and profile presentation would be to engage a coach and get personalized recommendations.

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Cristian gave the best answer

Cristian

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