Here’s an important statistic to have in mind when top management consulting firms are in question: more than half of all consulting candidates get rejected before an interview due to the state of their application.
Put yourself in a recruiter’s position. You’re starting your day, and you have hundreds of resumes freshly added to your desk, all waiting to be read. According to some stat reports, the recruiter will spend approximately 7-10 seconds scanning a single resume before coming to a decision whether to read further or not.
This means that you have 7-10 seconds to impress your recruiter with the opening of your consulting cover letter in order to make them read it all and put you into consideration.
In the following article, we will go through what is necessary to do exactly that.
It might sound a bit cliche, always saying “this is the most important part of your interview or job application”. But think of it this way – if your cover letter doesn’t make you stand out from the rest of the applicants, then you won’t even get the chance to test yourself at your other most important parts of the interview. If you want to learn more about the mastery of writing the consulting cover letter that stands out check this guide to find more quality insights.
You should, of course, do your research about the company where you are applying. What their values are, what they stand for, how they work, etc. Show them that they are not just a number on your “apply to these jobs” list, but that it’s specifically them you are interested in.
As far as recruiters go, they’ll need exactly what they are looking for – skills, experience, and education. The trick is just in structuring your consultant cover letter so that you don’t drown the recruiter in a boring, irrelevant data-filled start, but get straight into what they want to see.
#1 Formatting your letter
First and foremost, make sure your consultant cover letter is well organized and eye-friendly. Make a clear outline, get space between your paragraphs, and use neat fonts. A one-page resume will work fine in most cases unless you have substantial experience that can’t fit onto a single page. In that case, feel free to go for a two-page.
Note that formatting isn’t an area where you want to stick out too much and be creative, and you should just stick to the basics. Using strange fonts or weird layouts can only get your application redirected to the recycle bin.
As far as the basic points go, use normal size margins. Your name, date, and contact information should be at the top, followed by your email address. Structure it with an opening, three main paragraphs, and a closing.
#2 Content of your letter
There’s so much you have to say in your letter, from highlighting your skills and achievements to pinpointing why you are the perfect match for that particular company. The key here is to get as much relevant info in the introduction paragraph as possible, without making it chaotic and incoherent, or simply too long.
The first paragraph should best be kept short. About 4-5 sentences are enough to catch their attention. Make sure that it covers the following:
- An overview of your experience
- Crucial skills required for consulting
- Quantified proof of your achievements
And don’t go about it being shy and modest, either. The company is looking for someone who stands out, a confident and capable person and you need to portrait yourself as such.
Where experience is concerned, we recommend using bullet points. They catch the eye easily and cover the essentials without overloading the recruiter with unnecessary information. If you have loads of work experience, focus on the most important or recent ones (often go one with the other) and for the older, more irrelevant ones, just mention the job title and the employer.
It’s recommended that you write the employer’s names in bold, especially if it’s a big brand.
Be precise about your achievements. Point out what your contribution to big projects was, how much money your decisions saved, or what processes you streamlined. Don’t hesitate to use percentages or numbers, consultants do love their numbers and statistics.
While listing your experiences or achievements, make sure to personalize them. Don’t be generic. Making bullet points such as:
- XYZ project design
- Result reporting
- Expense optimization
These will never have an effect on the recruiter as much as these:
- Designed and structured the XYZ project
- Regularly provided result reports to superior executives
- Optimized the company expenses and saved up to 7% of revenue
The first one is what we would call a generic example, and the second is the way to go about it. It highlights that you made an impact and that you know what you are doing and how to achieve results.
While in today’s times, education is often underlooked if you have experience and ability behind you, in consulting this is not the case. Top consulting companies like to hire ambitious high-achievers. Not only does it point out that you have in-depth knowledge of the subject, but it also shows that you can go the distance and finish what you start.
So, if you’ve spent years at a highly-rated target university, it will stand out quite nicely on your resume. Don’t forget to put your GPA in there, as well, as long as it’s above average. As a matter of fact, if you have a PhD or an MBA degree, include it after your name at the top of your resume.
So aside from that, you’ll need to include your college name and location along with your graduation date.
In the education section, do not try to be too humble. Mention any projects or organizations that you were a part of or any awarded scholarships that you have been awarded.
#5 Relevant skills
For showing off your skills, bullet points will prove useful once again. Make a distinction between your work-related skills and your soft skills. Soft skills make for your interpersonal abilities involving communication, cooperation, teamwork, etc.
Where work-related, technical skills are concerned, those can include:
- Cash flow management
- Foreign languages
And soft skills may include, but are not limited to:
- Time management
Technical skills will of course vary depending on the industry you are consulting in. One thing worth mentioning is that communication is taken seriously in this business, and speaking foreign languages is an important trait. If you speak any foreign language, besides listing it, always follow it up with your level of proficiency.
The same goes for your other skills, wherever possible. Don’t just write down “Microsoft Excel” as a skill. “Proficient in Microsoft Excel” sounds much better. Describe your knowledge to both make it sound better and give more detailed info on how good you are at it.
To Sum it Up
We hope this article has highlighted the importance of a good resume when applying for a job as a consultant. Without a good consultant cover letter, you will not make it to the latter stages of selection, so take your time working on it.
It will also give you a good review of your achievements and experiences which will be good preparation for the interview itself. Take note of what you’ve read, do your research, and start writing that eye-catching paragraph that will gain the recruiter’s attention.
If it’s been more than 10 seconds and they are still reading it, you are firmly in the game!
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