What consulting employers look for in covering letters
A great covering letter can help you get you through to the interview or assessment centre stage at the consulting firm of your choice.
Memorable... is not about adding a shock factor statement or something kooky.
A consulting covering letter must show that you have thought about the job and know about the organisation, and should briefly outline the qualities that make you the perfect candidate. In your cover letter, Roland Berger advises its applicants, you should explain 'what makes you our next consultant'. Remember, for many consultancies, such as Credo, which do not ask for an application form, your covering letter is the first impression you will make and formatting the letter properly is essential.
Here are our seven top tips for writing a covering letter that will get you noticed (in a good way):
1. Make your covering letter memorable and to the point. Memorable means that recruiters can remember key things about you by the end of the letter. It’s not about adding a shock factor statement or something kooky.
EY-Parthenon, for example, looks for candidates who are intellectually curious. Therefore, a covering letter to this firm should demonstrate your intellectual curiosity as much as possible through descriptions of your achievements, motivations and experiences (not through stating ‘I am curious’!).
2. Write a new tailor-made cover letter for each position. This avoids the risk of leaving the wrong firm or recruiter name on there! It also allows recruiters to see how motivated you are to join their particular firm instead of just any consulting firm.
3. Open with style. Get a named contact to address – most firms will provide this on their website. If in doubt, use any contact numbers provided to phone and ask. Introduce yourself and explain which position you’re applying for and where you saw it advertised.
4. Demonstrate your interest in the firm to which you’re applying. Devote a paragraph to explaining why you are interested in the job and the firm. Show you’ve done your research by referencing some of the firm’s recent projects and explaining why they interest you. If you're applying to Alfa, for example, show that you know what asset finance is.
Roland Berger puts it succinctly: you need to submit a cover letter which should make a convincing case why you want to be a part of Roland Berger – and no other consulting firm.
5. Show them why they want you. Use the next paragraph or two to explain why you’re the right candidate – but don’t just repeat the content of your CV. PwC stresses: ‘Throughout the process, we'll be looking for you to show awareness and evidence of the skills and qualities you need to succeed in our business. Wherever possible, you should be able to demonstrate and highlight how you match our requirements.’
6. End well. The closing paragraph of your letter should be strong and clear. Reaffirm your suitability for the role and your enthusiasm about the prospect of working for the employer. If you are really keen, you can add a line saying that you’ll give them a call to see how your application is progressing, but if you say it you must do it! State that you look forward to hearing from them and are happy to provide any further information they need. ‘Aim for clarity,’ says OC&C Strategy Consultants, ‘and make it easy for us to distinguish you from other applicants.’
7. Check spelling, grammar and sense very carefully. Elegant formatting won’t make up for poor spelling and grammar. Consulting recruiters will be reviewing your attention to detail and your ability to communicate in writing. Read through your covering letter out loud. This will help you identify verbose sentences that can be rewritten and will help you check the sense of your writing.