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Best consulting cover letter and resume tips – with examples

Staring at a blank piece of paper can be scary, especially when you know your future depends on what you write and how you write it. After struggling to write about yourself, you have to condense it to highlight one question — How do I represent myself in the best possible light?  Never fear! We at High Bridge are here to help!

There are so many articles on how to write a consulting cover letter and a resume, many with contradictory advice. So how do you decide what to follow when there are so many different voices out there? At High Bridge, the faculty come from ex-MBB backgrounds, and we know what these companies expect and the experience of going through thousands of management consultant or consultant CVs for all the High Bridge applicants.

Contents:

At our bootcamp, we teach students how to improve their entry-level cover letters and resumes to place them at top companies.

Our blog is a definitive guide on how to improve your application and give yourself the best chance of getting your dream job.

The first section gives you tips on cover letters and the second section focuses on your resume.

To submit an application to one of the leading consulting firms, use the following links:

McKinsey
BCG
Bain

PART 1: How to write a consulting cover letter

A cover letter tells your story. Which story do you want to tell the recruiter? Here are a few tips to get through the crucial next stage of the job application process.

1) Write Concisely

Your cover letter for a consulting or management consulting job needs to be between 3-5 paragraphs and a page long at the maximum. Recruiters have to skim through thousands of cover letters, so keep it simple.

Take time to read the job description and figure out the main skills your role is looking for. Remember skills and anecdotes you choose to include should best demonstrate your ability to excel at work. Stick to your best selling points!

2) Follow a structure that works

Paragraph 1:

Mention the position you are applying for, the position you currently have, a brief explanation of why you are applying to the consulting firm and position, and finally, a thesis statement to describe what main points you will cover in the rest of your cover letter.

Paragraph 2-3:

Highlight your main skills that fit this job and demonstrate them through examples. 

Think of any “spikes” you have in your resume and focus on highlighting those. A spike is an experience or an accomplishment that sets you apart from everyone else. For example, did you start a successful venture in college or while working? Were you the youngest presenter at a conference? Did you win any case competitions?

In every example, make sure you describe your role, how your actions led to a quantifiable success, and how it connects to the position you are applying for.

Consulting cover letter examples:

“My work as a research assistant overlaps with consulting work wherein there is a question that needs an answer, and one utilizes a systematic method to find the answer. I have been successful in this role as I have worked closely with 4 professors and have co-authored and published three academic papers at international conferences. I have had the privilege of presenting these papers to a room full of professors, where I was the youngest presenter.”

In this example, the writer first explains how her role as a research assistant at university is connected to consulting. Then she shows how her work is a “spike” by listing her accomplishments.

Or

“As president of the Debate Society, my leadership capabilities, and teamwork-oriented mindset helped me build an almost non-existent club to have 20+ members within one semester that topped the charts in the debate league. These results happened because I investigated students’ reasons for not participating and collaborated with other executives to adapt our club structure and formulate an impactful marketing strategy.”

In this example, the writer connects her qualities which match the job description and how they helped her in a situation and led to an accomplishment. Then she explains her process to really show her approach to solving a problem, which is similar to what a consultant needs to do.

Paragraph 4:

Specify why you want to work in this company. Use news stories, conversations with employees, and interesting insights from the company website for this. Remember to be specific. If you can copy-paste your current cover letter, and use it for another firm, then it is not specific enough. 

Finally, be grateful! Thank the recruiter for the opportunity and the chance to apply for this role.

3)    Resume ≠ Cover letter

Don’t repeat your resume twice! Your cover letter provides you a unique opportunity to craft a story of yourself and create a warm connection with the recruiter before the interview.

You may want to take this time to explain topics such as a switch in industry or a low GPA. Emphasize transferable skills if you applied for a role you do not have direct experience in. 

This is the chance to expand on an achievement that you’re proud of!

4)    Personalize it.

Adapt each cover letter to match the company’s values and the particular position you are applying for. It is okay to recycle a few important sentences about yourself. However, make sure to use the same words they mention in the job description and showcase the values the firm puts on their website.

Tip: Use WordClouds and paste the job description to see which words are the biggest: those are the ones they value most.

5)    Yes, you should name drop

If you know people that work in the company, mention them in your cover letter. It shows that you have done your research and know the firm well.

When addressing your cover letter, try staying away from a generic phrase such as “to whomever it may concern”. Instead, do your research to find the name of a recruiter in the office you are applying to. 

Many times, the recruiter’s name is given on the company website, and if not a Google and/or LinkedIn search can help you find that information.  

If you want more tips, why not sign up for our upcoming workshop.  

It is completely free!

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PART 2: How to write a consulting resume

A resume condenses all your relevant experiences in the last few years and demonstrates the impact you have made in every position and activity.   

Here are a few tips to improve your resume:

1) Keep it short and simple

A one-page strategic consultant resume format isn’t easy, especially if you have many experiences. Thus, these two steps should help you out:

  • Decide the top roles and firms you want to apply for. Then, only include relevant experiences to the position you are applying for.  It is more than acceptable to have a few versions of your resumes for different industries and positions.
  • Create bullet points that showcase how you created impact and went above and beyond what was expected. Do not fill your resume with a generic job description that anyone else in the same position as you could have.

2) Use strong action verbs and quantify when possible

Action verbs are keywords that resume screeners are looking for, as they showcase your leadership and drive. Use strong action verbs to begin your sentence to have the most impact.

For example, instead of saying “reduced costs by 35%” say “slashed costs by 35%”. In addition to this, using numbers and percentages is the best way to back up your arguments and really show the impact that you’ve had.

3)  Create a smart structure

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s talk about the structure. Every experienced consulting resume should be split out into five different sections: Personal Information, Education, Work Experience, Extra-Curricular Achievements and Additional Skills

4) PROOFREAD!

Needless to say, this is a crucial step. Typos and spelling mistakes in your resume not only display your lack of attention to detail, but it might also make you seem lazy and uninterested.

You have a lot of time to edit and proofread your resume, and if there are mistakes, the recruiter will wonder about the quality of work you will put in when there are deadlines.

Thus, make sure your design is consistent, your dates are correct, and there are no spelling errors. 

Now that you’re ready, we wish you the best of luck applying!

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Management consulting: How to get/give the maximum benefit

Management consultant? A company buying such services? Either way, to achieve the best results, check out the 8 components of success here.

The latest estimate is that globally, companies paid roughly 285 billion U.S. dollars for management consulting services in 2019. Did they all get their money’s worth? An article in the Harvard Business Review suggests that many did not.

The article’s author, Arthur N. Turner has experience in this field as a consultant, as a supervisor to consultants, and as a result of interactions with other consultants. In addition, Turner has done research on what effective consulting actually means.

Turner proposes that the key to a successful management consulting relationship is clarity of purpose. His article gives a framework for achieving this.

 

How to achieve clarity of purpose

Similar to the idea of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid, Turner informs that the successful management consulting partnership is a hierarchy of eight purposes or mini goals. Purpose/Goal #1 forms the base of the pyramid, the starting point, with purpose/goal #8 being the top of the pyramid, the ultimate goal.

To paraphrase Turner’s words, these purposes/goals are:

  1. Making a permanent improvement to the effectiveness of the organization.
  2. Facilitating client learning—in other words, empowering the client with tools for future problem resolution.
  3. Constructing a consensus and commitment around corrective action.
  4. Assisting the client in implementing the recommended solutions.
  5. Recommending as needed based on the diagnosis.
  6. Making a diagnosis—may necessitate redefinition of the problem.
  7. Finding solutions to the client’s problems.
  8. Giving information to the client.

Turner suggests that not all of these purposes are regularly addressed. He states that, in general, purposes 1-4 are considered “legitimate functions.” As a result, most consultants will achieve these goals. Purpose 5 is somewhat controversial, so it is at this point that the chain begins to break down. The last three purposes/goals (6-8) are mostly overlooked for two reasons: many consultants do not address them directly, and clients do not know enough about the management consulting process to ask for them.

 

Yet, it is these final three purposes which are essential for the management consulting relationship to have maximum benefit.

 

Turner suggests that the “sophistication and skill” of the parties involved is the main reason these last three vital goals are not usually achieved. In other words, the consultants themselves may not have the expertise, and the clients may not have the knowledge.

In a bid to empower both consultants and clients, Turner’s article then discusses each of these purposes/goals in detail. Each discussion further defines the goal and gives suggestions/tips for how it can be achieved, as well as important cautions for what not to do.

 

Why is this knowledge important?

An article in the UK Financial Times online reports that more than 60 years on, the conclusion of their 1961 report about effective consultancy still holds: “the best test of a consultant’s worth is their performance.” This conclusion is especially relevant in view of the upheaval taking place in this industry at the moment.

This CEO World website item indicates that management consulting companies which have not innovated and/or evolved are beginning to feel pressure. There appear to be two main, global scale reasons driving this change to the status quo: “the gig economy and the rising popularity of crowdsourcing as a feasible alternative to small and finite groups of professionals.” (source)

 

The final conclusion?

If you are a management consultant, it would be wise to assess your methodologies, bringing them in line with today’s market needs and expectations.

If you are a company intending to purchase management consultancy, educate yourself as to what you are entitled to and how this can be best achieved.

In both cases, you may wish to read more here.

This is what Gen Y & Z employees want from their workplaces

3 key expectations of Generations Y and Z. Workplaces with these key elements have younger employees who are more satisfied for longer.

John Francis Welch Jr., American business executive, chemical engineer, writer and chairman/CEO of General Electric is quoted as having said: “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

This article will give you some insights about how to “grow” and develop your Gen Y & Z employees, keeping in mind that generalizations can only be taken so far, since people are individuals after all.

On the same page

Just to make sure you are thinking about the employees we are talking about, here’s a brief definition of both generations. We have given fixed dates for clarity, but some definitions soften the dates to give a slight overlap.

Generation Y (Gen Y, Millennials): People born between 1981—1996. At the time of this writing, the oldest of them are approaching 40.

Generation Z (Gen Z, Centennials): Those born between 1996—2010. Currently, the oldest of this generation are approaching 25.

 

Here’s a window on three top things these generations are looking for at their workplaces.

 

Relationship with technology

If Gen Y are digital natives, Gen Z could be seen as human-tech hybrids. In other words, while Gen Y are completely comfortable with technology (having successfully migrated from analogue to digital at a young age), Gen Z have it in their DNA. As a result, both generations are expecting workplaces which embrace all the features a tech-internet world has to offer. One huge example is remote working.

A recent study by Upwork and Inavero showed that Gen Y and Z see remote teams as normal. Of over 1000 managers surveyed, 69 percent of the younger ones have team members who work remotely. This is such a strong trend that according to this study, 73 percent of every team will include remote workers by 2028.

In the workplace

Workplaces which do not currently have a remote work option should actively start developing one now.

 

Human relationships

Generations Y and Z are “so comfortable with technology, for instance, that they sometimes have a hard time recognizing when a face-to-face conversation is more appropriate than an email exchange or text message” says assistant management professor Stephanie Creary of the Wharton Business School (University of Pennsylvania, USA) in a recent article.

On the one hand then, these younger generations are looking for workplaces which interact via devices with screens.

Having said that…

An Australian study checked in with 67 university students to assess any differences between remote (online, screen) and face to face (F2F) meetings in an educational setting. The study divided the students into two groups. One group had their classes online (written work, discussions, assessment); the other in a totally F2F way via the traditional classroom setting.

The results were as follows:

  • There was no significant difference in the academic achievements of the two groups.
  • Students strongly preferred that class discussions be face to face. This was due to a greater feeling of engagement and more immediate feedback.
  • Although online written tasks meant more flexibility as far as when the work could be done, the students preferred the classroom setting as it gave them the opportunity to discuss the content with their classmates.

The preference for face to face communication is reflected in workplace data, too, but only for Gen Z. This generation prefers face to face meetings while Gen Y opts for digital interactions (email, text).

In the workplace

Overall, workplaces should provide some physical, human contact even if this is not the first preference of some employees. Having periodic, physical meetings in addition to online conferencing is one place this could happen. Another natural event is face to face performance reviews.

 

Personal fulfillment

Work-life balance is important (47% for Gen Y and 39% for Gen Z) according to Forbes Magazine. Since 84 percent of Gen Y employees report feeling burned out at work, employers need to make this a priority. It is recommended to check in with your younger employees frequently, getting feedback about how they are really feeling. If needed, offer flex-time or remote working, so they can re-energize.

More than the status quo is what millennial and centennial employees expect. According to Matthew Mottola, Future of Work and On-Demand Talent Program Manager at Microsoft, millennials “expect to architect our careers according to our lifestyle and our passions.”

Passion is a word Gen Z employees use, too. Bruntwood UK describes them as people who “want a job that makes a positive impact on the world around them, with many happy to volunteer for roles if it gives them a better chance of securing a job role they are passionate about.”

In the workplace

The first step towards workplaces offering their younger employees opportunities to fulfill their “missions, visions, and values” is getting to know who they are as individuals. With this knowledge, it will be easier to suggest roles and tasks which meet their needs.

Another keyword in younger employees is “human.” Despite their love of tech, both Gen Y and Gen Z do not want to lose the aspect of humanity in their lifestyles.

Humanity is more than face to face communication. It is about social causes and global impact. Workplaces which support their local communities and/or have world-wide humanitarian projects will make themselves more attractive places in which to work and encourage Generations Y and Z to stay with them longer.

Here are the things you need to know to be a great mentor at your workplace

Anyone can be a great workplace mentor by knowing a few important points and having a solid plan. All the info you need is in this article. 

A great mentor can have an enormous influence on a person’s life. Great mentors enable their mentees to gain greater career satisfaction and achievement. In addition, great mentoring develops and supports a “shared vision of the future.”

Statistics show that in formal business mentoring programs, 84% of mentees are being helped in significant ways such as avoiding costly mistakes and growing into their roles more quickly.

You, too, can be a great mentor. It’s not difficult. You just need to know a few important points and have a solid plan.

Section I—The first mentoring meeting: Clarification

This meeting should result in a clear description of what your mentor-mentee relationship is going to look like. It is recommended to prepare for this meeting in advance by reviewing the following steps and creating your plan.

During the meeting, you will review these points with your mentee, adjusting the plan, when possible, as per your mentee’s ideas and feedback.

 

Step 1: Define the goals

Make a list. Include information about any known (and most likely to happen) obstacles to achieving those goals, along with possible solutions. Keep in mind that your goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound. It is a good idea to write them down in a shared document which can be updated as time goes on. By their very nature, SMART goals are realistic and success-oriented which is great for both mentor and mentee motivation.

 

Step 2: Describe the mentorship

Will it be F2F meetings? An e-mentorship? Perhaps a combination of both?

The data shows that e-mentoring is an effective mentoring form as long as “the goals and expectations are clarified at the beginning”—which has been done in the step above. Thus, e-mentoring can be a good option when there is limited time for F2F meetings. Text messages and chats are acceptable for daily communication. It would be unusual for a mentor to meet with their mentee every day. However, a weekly meeting is a very recommended “must.”

Weekly meetings should be one hour long. An hour a week is the recommended minimum which should be spent on a mentee. On a particular week, you may not use all the time planned for, and that is fine. To make sure these meetings happen on a regular basis, set a schedule. Of course, there will be times when meetings must be rescheduled, but having a definite schedule really helps. Add this schedule to your shared document.

Nature Magazine surveyed 6,300 graduate students about mentorship at their educational institution. One of the big reasons that respondents were dissatisfied with their mentorships was a lack of time spent with them by their mentor.

So, making sure these meetings happen should be one of your top priorities.

 

Step 3: Ask your mentee

Does your mentee have any requests or concerns not touched upon during the two steps above?

Listen openly to each one. Write them down on your shared document. If needed, brainstorm possible solutions or next steps. Add agreed solutions/steps to your shared document. In this first meeting, it is important to create an atmosphere of confidentiality. Your mentee should know that they can tell you anything, and you will keep it confidential, unless your mentee agrees that it can be shared.

This element builds and maintains trust—a key component of a great mentorship.

 

Section II—Weekly meetings: Structure and content

Whether in person or via a device, your weekly, one-hour meetings should hit the following points, updating your shared document as needed.

 

Step 1: Goal checking

Review the progress of each goal, noting any new obstacles or challenges. Spend about 10-15 minutes on this part.

 

Step 2: Give constructive feedback

Great mentors give truthful praise and clear-cut points for improvement. They include specific examples of both the positive and negative, so their mentees understand exactly what is working and what needs changing. Spend about 10-15 minutes on this part.

 

Step 3: The mentee’s turn

Half of the meeting (that’s right, 30 minutes) should be given for “mentee talk.” Seems like a lot? You should know that a top need of mentees is a mentor who listens, is a sounding board, and is genuinely interested in what they have to say.

Mentee talk is anything on your mentee’s mind. It could be related to the work they are doing for your company or organization, including “personal roadblocks, blindspots, or other concerns.” However, it could be an out-of-work event/situation that they are happy about or struggling with. As your mentee talks, check for clarity every so often to make sure you accurately understand what they are telling you.

Getting to know your mentee as a person is an important key to mentorship success. In the Nature survey (mentioned above), some mentors did not even know their mentee’s name. “He called me by the wrong name in the middle of my PhD,” she says. “That was a low point.” The more you know about your mentee, the better you will be able to adjust your mentoring for maximum achievement.

 

A last thought…

Ciara, an American musician, is quoted as saying: “As we get older, it’s important for us to help hand back some of what we’ve gained as we’ve grown older. It should be one of your responsibilities.”

And that is what great mentorship is all about. It is a sharing of what you have learned for the benefit of another, done in a genuine, humble way which reveals your mentee’s potential. It is a deep, positive connection with someone else for their good, your good, and the greater good.

As long as you keep it real and committed, you will be a great mentor.