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Do you have to talk about why the specific programme in your Cover Letter?

Alex asked on Oct 21, 2019 - 4 answers

So I know a typically cover letter would consist of: 1) why you, 2) why consulting, 3) why the firm. Do I need to dedicate a paragraph to why the specific programme as well (e.g. summer internship)?

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replied on Oct 21, 2019
McKinsey Business Analyst | 3+ years Experience | Extensive experience in case preparation
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Hi Alex,

I actually know that best practice with the cover letter is:

- Intro

- Why consulting and why you (you can also talk about summer internship here)

- What can I bring you that makes the valuable

- Conclusion

The third part is actually the most important because it says why you should choose me among all other candidates.

Hope it helps!

Thank you for the reply Giulia! Do you also know what the best practice for who to address the cover letter to? (E.g. Dear Recruitment Manager, Dear Sir or Madam, To whom it may concern, the name of someone from your first choice recruiting team even if you're not sure they will be the one reading your cover letter) Thank you so much! — Alex on Oct 21, 2019

Hi Alex, it’s usually better to avoid the “to whom it may concern”, because it seems “not-customised”, as if you are copy-pasting the same cover letter for all companies. The ideal is if you know who is reading it, so that you can address it directly to them. If you don’t know who’s going to read it, it’s better to opt for “Dear [company name] HR team” or directly “Dear HR team” or “Dear recruiting team” (which is the right name for MBB offices) — Giulia on Oct 21, 2019

Thank you for the thoughtful response Giulia. On the point of customising it to the company, would you say finding the address of its office would also help? Or is it unnecessary for cover letters submitted through online applications? Thank you again for your help, I really appreciate it. — Alex on Oct 21, 2019

Hi Alex, I would say it is actually not that useful since, as you said, it’s an online application. Customisation can be done a great deal in the why you though. If you have been to a presentation, talked to someone from their company, read online website/articles about them it’s worth mention it. It’s much better to read a cover letter in which someone can really relate to the company or felt inspired by one of the members rather then “I like big money and challenging careers” ;p — Giulia on Oct 21, 2019

These sounds like very good suggestions, thank you so much Giulia. I really appreciate the time and effort you put into answer my questions! — Alex on Oct 21, 2019

replied on Oct 22, 2019
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My personal preference is as follows:

  • Short intro
  • Why you
  • Why this company & geography
  • Short recap

The best practice is to have your cover letter occupy 2/3 of the page and max 450 words or so, given reviewers only spend a minute to review each cover letter (in some cases they do not even look at them).



Thank you for your reply Deniz. You mentioned why the Geography as well. However, I know many firms allow you to choose multiple countries for the application. If my second location choice ended up reviewing my cover letter, do you think having a specified geography in my cover letter would be not ideal? — Alex on Oct 22, 2019

replied on Oct 21, 2019
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Hi, Alex,

I'm also recommending the three points you mentioned for a cover letter.

The question which program you apply for depends less on your motivation and more on your circumstances (Student --> Intern Position; Master --> Entry level position). There is nothing special to explain here.

Best regards

Thank you for your reply Macro-Alexander, your answer makes a lot sense! — Alex on Oct 22, 2019

replied on Oct 21, 2019
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I would rather do:

  • Intro
  • Why you
  • Why the company
  • Outro

The specific program can be one of the arguments why company if it is a unique program (e.g. some industry practice). In case of an internship - it doesn't really matter.

In addition - don't waste to much time on your cover letter. They don't pay too much attention to it


Thanks for the advice Vlad. It's good an insider view on the importance (of the lack of importance) of the cover letter. — Alex on Oct 22, 2019