The cover letter is very important because all firms require a consulting cover letter. It will be read immediately after your CV, provided your CV has gotten the recruiters attention. Whether you are writing a BCG, Bain or McKinsey cover letter.
Every year, ~200,000 candidates apply to McKinsey, but only ~2,000 of them end up getting an offer. That's a 1% success rate. Candidates usually don't know this, but the most competitive step in the recruiting process is the cover letter and resume screening. That's where more than 60% of candidates get eliminated.
So how do you do it? How do you craft a cover letter that gets you interviews at McKinsey, BCG and Bain? You have already written cover letters in the past. But how do you make sure they work with consulting firms?
Because here is the thing. Consulting cover letters are actually VERY different to cover letters for other jobs. So, you should be aware of consulting cover letter basics and writing tips.
There are two main reasons why consulting firms will ask you for a cover letter.
First, partners bill several thousand dollars per day to their clients. The opportunity cost of interviewing you is HUGE for the firm. Put yourself in the shoes of a consultancy for a second. What are the top 3 questions you want to answer before investing money in interviewing a candidate?
- Have they demonstrated the skills needed to be a consultant?
- Do they know what consulting is and what they are getting into?
- Are they genuinely interested in working for our firm?
If you don't answer these three questions in a structured and impactful way, your chances of getting passed the screening process are very low. This is why every cover letter should be structured as follows:
- Why you?
- Why consulting?
- Why this firm?
The second reason consulting firms ask for a cover letter is to test your writing skills. Consultants write all the time: emails, power points, word documents, etc. They spend 50% of their day writing. And a lot of the time their job is to summarise very large quantities of information in a succinct way.
This is exactly what you have to do in your cover letter. You have to a) look back on all your past experiences, b) select the relevant experiences to convince the reviewer that you are the right person for the job and c) summarise all these experiences in a way that's easy to read and digest.
Cover letters are a disguised writing test. Candidates who end up getting invited for interviews recognise this early on. Making a good impression on PAPER is WAY HARDER than making a good impression in PERSON.
Are many candidates ready to invest HOURS in writing the perfect cover letter? NO. That's the whole point. That's how you can set yourself apart. If you spend enough time making sure that your letter is as impactful as it can be, you stand very high chances of getting invited for interviews.
You can also get all the information from the consulting websites on the cover letter.