The consulting job market can be tough. Catching the recruiter’s attention during the initial screening requires a great resume and a well-written cover letter.
The majority of consulting aspirants realize the value of an exceptional CV or resume; however, many are not aware of the benefits of crafting a powerful cover letter. Applicants often neglect the value of a well-written cover letter because they put all of their energy into writing their resumes. But the fact of the matter is, resumes and cover letters are equally important.
In fact, according to statistics reflected from a survey listed in the book The 100 Best Companies to Work For, 75% of employers agreed that a well-written cover letter can significantly improve the odds that a less eligible applicant will be asked to sit for an interview. The study also revealed that 53% of employers prefer applications with both a resume and cover letter. Moreover, 91% of employers said they would give greater consideration to applicants who have conducted research on their company compared to those who simply send out generic cover letters. Simply put, the cover letter matters.
How to Craft a Cover Letter
Some employers will not actually read your cover letter, but simply scan it, looking for keywords such as roles, skills, and accomplishments. Learning the art of crafting a compelling cover letter is a must for every applicant.
Employers look through cover letters not only to learn about the skills you can offer but to gain more insight on your personality as well. Your entire cover letter needs to be interesting and should consist of no less than three and no more than five paragraphs. Take a look at these consulting cover letter examples done per section of the letter:
In most consulting cover letter examples you’ll see online, the first paragraph is usually where you mention the position you’re applying for. It needs to sound interesting enough to encourage the employer to read the rest of your cover letter. Include your objectives and how you came to know about the opening. Try incorporating the following strategies for a more personal approach:
|Networking||You may drop the name of an employee or anyone else associated with the firm and mention how he or she has encouraged you to pursue a career with their organization. However, do not simply namedrop without explaining how that person inspired you to submit your application. If you don’t know any such person, you can conduct research on the Internet for informational interviews to learn what the firm is about, and incorporate the data you find into your motivation for pursuing a consulting role at their company.|
|Events||You may also refer to an event such as an inspirational talk given by a client, a meeting with an industry expert, or any activity which inspired you to pursue a career with their firm.|
|Articles||You may likewise cite a particular case or study published by your target firm and state how it has encouraged you to follow your management consulting dreams.|
Here’s a good example of this section:
The middle section of your letter can be either one or two paragraphs. You may convey all your significant work experience and accomplishments in one paragraph and how it relates to the consulting position. If the paragraph is well developed, you probably don’t need a second. However, if you feel that a second paragraph is needed to further demonstrate your different skill sets, it is perfectly acceptable to add one. Most consulting cover letter examples have two or more middle paragraphs.
Based on your credentials, select and highlight two or three of your skills and/or accomplishments. Focus on experiences and achievements that prove you possess the required criteria indicated in the job advertisement. This will help push your application to the next round. Choose the details that are the most relevant to the position and establish a strong connection between your competencies and the vacancy. You can create a table to guide you in selecting your achievements for this section and to ensure you have covered all the requirements of the job opening. Take a look at the example below:
If you are sure that you possess all of the credentials relevant to the job, you can now write the middle paragraph/s. Here’s an example:
I have been a marketing director for more than two years now, and my experience is well-suited to advise clients on strategic marketing issues. I oversee marketing strategy by analyzing market potential as well as developing advertising and promotion programs to achieve maximum sales of our products.
My education at The University of Oxford has thoroughly prepared me for advanced business practices and strategies, market research, and consumer behavior analysis. Moreover, during my three month internship at IBM, a global technology company, I worked with a competent sales and marketing team in providing recommendations and preparing presentations for tactical marketing initiatives. Furthermore, I am fluent in three languages: English, Spanish, and French. I feel that my knowledge, expertise, and experience will be a valuable asset to your firm.
Always end your cover letter on a positive note. Briefly state what you can offer the company and don’t forget to express your appreciation for the time they took to review your application. You may also stress your flexibility with regard to interview schedules. As you may have noticed, most consulting cover letter examples are professionally closed with “Sincerely,” “Best Regards,” “Respectfully,” etc. above the signature.
Here’s a good example:
What Great Cover Letters Have in Common
The five qualities common to all great letters are explained in the table below:
|Use a personal tone.||Your letter should sound like you and not somebody else. While you want your prospective employer to be impressed with your credentials, you should not use a generic voice. You may use consulting cover letter examples found online as guide but ensure to edit it to make it sound more like you. You can incorporate keywords but don’t make it sound too formal.|
|Be concise.||On average, recruiters only spend a minute per application. Great cover letters are short yet contain enough information to pass initial screening. Keep your letter to a single page—brevity is key.|
|Stimulate curiosity.||An effective cover letter encourages the employer to learn more about the applicant. Again, this will depend on how you present your background. Provide specific instances or experiences wherein you successfully demonstrated your expertise.|
|Prove your suitability to the target position.||Your highlighted accomplishments should always be related to the position you are applying for. There are many qualified people out there, but why you? Focus on details which will prove that you are the most suited applicant for the job. Great consulting cover letter examples effectively demonstrate how to do this.|
|Share your knowledge about the firm.||Make sure you research the company. As you express the reasons why you want to work for a particular firm, reveal your knowledge about their organization. For instance if you apply at McKinsey, ensure you demonstrate that you are a problem solver, an achiever and a leader capable of creating positive impact.|
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Below are five common mistakes to avoid when drafting a killer cover letter:
Rehashing Information from Your Resume
Data redundancy is a common cover letter mistake. Your letter must be a summary of your work experience and skills, but it should not contain the same information as your resume. Use your cover letter to entice recruiters to refer to your resume for more details.
Lack of attention to details can cost you your dream job. Listing the wrong firm name, position, or contact information can ruin your candidacy. This can happen if you are sending out a series of applications and forget to change the details. Or when you use some consulting cover letter examples online and forget to replace original details.
Rambling On and On
This document is not the place to write your autobiography. You will never catch the attention of your employer with a massive amount of content. Only the most relevant and proven qualifications (leadership experience, analytical thinking skills) or affiliations should be included. Other professional details should be listed on your resume. In addition, it is suggested not to elaborate on your educational background in your cover letter. However, you may do so if you’re a fresh graduate and has no working experience yet.
Getting Too Casual
Although you should use your own voice in your cover letter, don’t get too casual with your tone. A good letter exudes your personality but exhibits elegance and professionalism as well. Never use slang words and don’t use a lot (if any) of exclamation points. Notice how good consulting cover letter examples are structured. You should likewise structure your thoughts using appropriate style and language. Using fancy fonts can hurt your application and your choice of formatting will likewise reflect your written communication skills, so be very careful when choosing a design.
Typos and Grammatical Errors
Many aspiring consultants send out their letters without proofreading them first. As a result, some grammatical errors and awkward phrases are not corrected. These types of mistakes can greatly affect your candidacy. Consultants are expected to have a flair for communication, particularly in writing, as one of their responsibilities is to prepare presentations and reports for diverse clients. Errors in your letter reflect your inability to write quality deliverables. In fact, according to a survey titled Confessions of the Recruitment Industry, a single spelling or grammar mistake can incite employers to throw your application into the trash.
Submitting an effective cover letter is crucial if you want to outshine the competition. Read and study how great consulting cover letter examples are done. An interesting letter can improve your chances of being invited to the much-anticipated interview. Don’t waste the time and energy you’ve spent on devising the perfect resume by writing and submitting a poorly-structured cover letter.