Top 10 tips for management consulting cover letters that will land an interview

The cover letter is a required component of any job application – but often the biggest headache for applicants. In this post, I discuss the top 10 tips for consulting cover letters (from content to structure to syntax) that will avoid embarrassing mistakes and strengthen your candidacy.

For the complete guide to consulting cover letters, click here!

1) Your opening paragraph should include:

  • The position you’re applying for.
  • Qualities that make you a good fit (e.g., leadership experience, analytical thinking skills).
  • Optional: very brief highlights on work experience.

2) Your body paragraphs (no more than 2) should include:

  • Work highlights if not in the opening paragraph.
  • A section to describe one experience in detail (work, student group, etc). Focus on the impact you had and the skills you learned that would make you a good consultant. This should be your “star” experience and the one you want every reader to remember
  • A section or paragraph on your interest in the job, your career goals, the research you’ve done to learn more about the firm.

3) The closing paragraph should be brief and restate why you’d make a good consultant. Include your contact information here as well:

Please do not hesitate to contact me with further questions. I can be reached at (123) 456-7890 or via email at

4) Avoid an elaborate discussion of your educational background. A sentence about your school and major should suffice. It’s OK to expand this section if you have a very high GPA, nationally-recognized scholarships, and fellowships, etc.

5) It’s OK to drop names of current firm employees – but integrate them well.

Here’s a poor example:

I had a conversation with Sarah Foster, a current case team leader at Bain, at the on-campus presentation. I learned a lot from her about consulting and gained a deeper appreciation for the company.

Why is this a poor example? It doesn’t make a point. The interaction was generic, and it feels like a setup to name-drop.

Here’s a good example:

Bain is not only a prestigious firm, but one that really invests in the development of its consultants. My conversations with Sarah Foster, a current case team leader, reinforced my belief that this separates Bain from the other firms, and is my central reason for applying.

Why is this a good example? The name-dropping occurs in the context of a broader point – that Bain focuses on the development of its people.

6) Use anecdotes in consulting cover letters. Instead of saying “my past experiences have allowed me to become a strong leader of teams,” say this:

My projects at Oracle – where I led groups of up to 5 analysts on implementation projects – have made me a strong team leader and partner for my colleagues.

7) Include current contact information at the top. Don’t assume it’s unnecessary because the information is on your resume.

8) Never use more than one page and use PDF format when possible. In the words of Consultant99 (a kind commenter):

Resumes and cover letters should be submitted in PDF whenever allowed. Every resume screen finds us holding a half-dozen resumes where the font isn’t found, the margins are messed-up, it’s set for A4 rather than 8.5 x 11, or any of a million other problems that wreak havoc on your careful formatting. Worst of all, “track changes” might be turned on! Putting it in PDF avoids all these problems.

9) If it doesn’t fit with size 12 font and 1″ margins, it’s too long. This is not an iron-clad rule but a guiding principle. Cover letters with size 10 font, 0.5″ margins, and minute paragraph spacing hurt the reader’s eyes and hurt your candidacy.

10) Make sure the consulting cover letter is addressed to the right firm and person. Back to my initial thought – the risk is greater of messing up than standing out, and this is mistake number one. Label and save each cover letter by a firm, and double-check to ensure the firm name, address, and position applied for (eg, Associate vs Senior Consultant) is correct.

The last thing you want to happen is for an Accenture recruiter or consultant open your cover letter and see that it’s addressed to Deloitte HR. At best, you’re incompetent. At worst, your application may not see the light of day.

In our Consulting Resume and Cover Letter Bible we’ve got 12 cover letter templates you can use to create your own best-in-class cover letter.

Click here to buy it now and start landing consulting jobs!

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  • db

    Hi, I just wanted to point out an error on your website. On the last link, where you link to your coaching services, you have it linked to:

    even though it should be

  • Consultant99

    Thanks for the shout-out, Kevin. The cover letter is clearly the least important part of the application, but when all that the resume committee has is 2 sheets of paper, it’s still rather important, so it’s good you have a post on it. And cover letters are especially true for MBA career switchers in today’s environment who need to prove why they want to make a career change. (Undergrads tend to write far better cover letters that make me really excited when I get my pre-interview packets.)

    An applicant needs to convince the resume screening committee both that they are qualified but also that they really want to be a consultant at Company X. The resume does the former and the CL does the latter. As you point out, effective name-dropping is critical, and so is a strong discussion of why you’re applying to Company X. As long as the cover letter communicates a good understanding of the firm, it has accomplished its mission and the rest is fluff and filler (which doesn’t get read).

  • kgao

    Your last line – about communicating a good understanding of the firm – is particularly important. Thanks again for the good info! Cheers.

  • kgao

    @db – thanks for that catch. it’s been affecting several of my posts so now it’s been corrected moving forward. thanks again!

  • Laura Paris

    Wow– I’ve needed some no-nonsense advice for getting a job and I think the improvements Ive made to my CV after reading your article are really going to make all the difference. Great advice!

  • AP

    Noting that online application forms that allow one to apply to multiple offices in one fell swoop are the norm, how can one address the letter to more than one office in the heading? The alternative, ignoring the address does not feel right either. What do you recommend?

  • Sam

    I agree with AP, this is a dilemma. Any advice?

  • Big Red

    In the article “Top 10 Mistakes in Consulting Resumes”, you state to always use left alignment and never justify alignment. Is the same true for cover letters?

  • Kevin

    Generally speaking, yes

  • 創業

    Undoubtedly, one of the best article l have come across on this precious topic. I quite agree with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your coming updates.

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