Crucial to explain "Why Middle East?" in cover letter for MBB Middle East if I don't come from the region?

Anonymous A asked on Jul 16, 2019

unfortunately I tried my luck for all MBB offices in Middle East (after being rejected from Europe/US) and got rejected by all of them. Now, just out of interest, I wonder whether it is due to my cover letter, as I didn't explain "Why Middle East?".

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Jamie replied on Jul 16, 2019
Currently senior consultant in Tier 2 firm soon applying to MBB

Hi there,

If you are applying to a region and it is not clear in your CV why and you dont have any referrals that becomes extremely tough to get noticed unless you have a very strong CV (MBA from top school, relevant experience, etc.)

I would never recommend applying to a firm without a referral actually.

My 2cents

updated his answer on Jul 16, 2019
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To add to Jamie's answer

1. Recruiting is typically global in the sense that you cannot apply to a different office if you are rejected by one office in less than 2 years - the idea is that McKinsey across the globe has the same calibre of candidates. People that apply to the Middle East do so as part of the initial application not as an afterthought

2. You have to prove 'strong ties' to the region you are applying - this can be either a country you are from, where you studied or where you have a strong base (e.g., family). The idea is not to have people applying to offices just because there is a perception that it is 'easier' to get in there vs their home office

3. Networking - it always helps to meet people from the office, build connections and establish thos relationships before applying. That way they know you are serious and committed to working with them


Vlad replied on Jul 17, 2019
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It's not due to the cover letter:

  • You put the target countries in your application anyway
  • Nobody is really reading your cover letter

So I would look at the other reasons why you were rejected.


Francesco replied on Jul 17, 2019
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Hi Anonymous,

it is really difficult to provide an answer without additional information (eg your background/CV, how did you structure the cover, whether you applied via referrals or not).

In general a good cover letter should have an explanation of why you are applying in a specific region if you are not from there, although it is unlikely that this was the only reason for the rejection.



updated his answer on Jul 16, 2019
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As others have very well explained, there is very little chance for you to get an interview invite if you are applying to a foreign office that you do not have any ties with (former or current). Not explaining your reasons for picking that office certainly can be one of the reasons why you got rejected.

That being said, it could be due to many other factors. So even if you had explained "why Middle East" in your cover letter, an interview invite was not warranted.