Consulting cover letter: Full guide and tips (+ examples)

November 28, 2022  •  Reading Time: 18 min.

Are you looking for a new job in the consulting industry?

Consulting firms typically not only require a perfect resume, but also request a cover letter to quickly identify what sets you apart from thousands of other applicants.

🚀 So if you are hoping for a chance at getting your foot in the door for an interview at a top-tier consulting firm, there’s one thing you’ll need: an impressive cover letter.

If you’re asking yourself what to say in your consulting cover letter or how you can distinguish yourself from the tons of other candidates, stop worrying right now. We’ve got you covered!

This article will teach you how to properly craft a consulting cover letter and provide you with useful writing tips. In the end, you will be able to write the perfect consulting cover letter and land that interview for your dream consulting job.

Understanding consulting cover letters

A powerful and unique cover letter can help you make the case for why the company should hire you instead of other candidates. Therefore, it can make a big difference when applying for consulting positions, e.g. as a strategy consultant, business analyst or associate consultant in management consulting.

🙌 To write a good consulting cover letter, you must first understand the requirements it must meet. That is why we will now take a closer look at the function of a cover letter and how exactly consulting firms are reading cover letters.

Basic function of a consulting cover letter

Basically, the function of a consulting cover letter is to tell the hiring manager three essential things:

  • Why they should hire you
  • Why consulting is a perfect fit for you
  • Why you are applying to this particular firm

With that said, as we will see later, a standard cover letter for business consultants is also divided into basic paragraphs that address each of these points more or less separately.

A management consulting cover letter has the function of demonstrating the same skills as your resume, but in a more selective and reinforcing manner. Writing a cover letter has nothing to do with simply restating the facts on your resume, but rather with making a compelling connection between your personal story and the job you are applying for.

It should show that you are a good fit in every way for the job in question. So the consulting cover letter must convey something of your personality and your motivation for the job – things that are not easily observable from your resume alone.

Male consultant talking to two clients

Consulting cover letters are a test in itself

In the recruiting process, the hiring managers of your target firm use your cover letter to learn more about you in a couple of different ways.

Obviously, they receive all the information you communicate explicitly but most consulting firms will, however, also use it as a ⚠️ implicit test of your writing skills and other qualities.

It is important to realize this dual function and bear it in mind as you are drafting your letter.

  • For example, using correct, industry-standard formatting, etc., shows that you have the professionalism and diligence to learn about and follow rules.
  • Also, your cover letter will be used by consulting firms as a test of your writing skills. A good cover letter requires you to gather a range of information, summarize it, and present it in a compelling way. Basically, this is the daily business of a consultant.
  • Moreover, consulting firms will notice how well you use your cover letter to market yourself. After all, consultants must constantly sell themselves, their company, and their recommendations to clients. So the ability to communicate persuasively is a key consulting skill.

What skills are top consulting firms looking for?

The top consulting firms receive hundreds of thousands of applications each year. In order to narrow down the candidate pool to only the best applicants, they know exactly what they seek in consulting candidates.

👍 The good news is that most of the leading consultancies are looking for basically the same skills.

Usually, they also present those skills (hard and soft skills) and values on their career page.

This could be for example:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Personal impact
  • Entrepreneurial drive
  • Passion
  • Results delivery
  • Strong interpersonal skills

💡 Tip: Before composing your consulting cover letter, be sure to take a look at the career site of the consulting firm you are applying to and see what specific qualities they are looking for in candidates. This way you can target them head-on in a customized cover letter.

Female applicant with glasses drafting her consulting cover letter

The right way to structure a consulting cover letter

Next, let’s get into the actual writing, starting with how to properly structure your consulting cover letter.

📝 Note: We have also included some consulting cover letter samples here in this section to give you a first impression of how the individual paragraphs can be organized. Full sample cover letters are provided further down the page.

Good cover letters for consulting positions should at least include these five components:

#1 Introduction

Every strong cover letter starts with a compelling opening paragraph. Your introduction should contain a brief overview of your background and the position you are applying for.

It should also be short, entertaining and to the point, making the reader feel like reading on in the second paragraph.

✅ For example, a good introduction could sound like this: “After attending University XY for both my undergraduate and MBA education, I am convinced that I would be a valuable asset to [name of consulting firm] in the [job title] position.”

#2 One or two stories on why you are a great candidate

This is the section where you should put yourself out there and showcase why you would be a great consultant.

Each sentence in this paragraph should speak to your skills, education and experiences; always referring to the consulting company’s requirements.

The best way to do this is by telling stories. Each story should highlight one of your abilities, e.g. to drive impact by solving a specific problem. Start by sharing some context, then talk about the actions you took, and finally end with the results you achieved. Make sure to mention some hard as well as soft skills.

✅ Cover letter example: “If given the opportunity, I would bring to [name of consulting firm] my drive and character, passion for results, and ability to have a lasting impact, as the following outlines.

Drive and Character: Prior to entering college, I worked as a paramedic in an ambulance. I learned a lot about teamwork in emergency situations and how to communicate effectively even if everything around is literally on fire. Additionally, I gained knowledge about how I perform and how to remain composed and professional under pressure. Whatever the circumstances, I learned to always put the patient at the center of every action and work diligently. Therefore, I am convinced that I can add value for [name of consulting firm]’s clients since consulting also entails putting the client’s interests first.

Passion for Results: […]

Lasting impact: […]”

#3 Why consulting is the right fit for you

Consulting firms are not only interested in your most impressive accomplishments, but also want to find out whether you’ll become a great consultant if hired.

To leave no room for doubt, the body of your cover letter should explain not only why you are an excellent candidate, but also why you want to work in consulting.

Use previous (consulting) experience, internships, jobs, or academic courses to tie your career goals to the job in question.

✅ You can already see what this can look like in the example above. There, the previous paramedic work experience has been proficiently combined with consultancy work.

Young male candidate sitting in front of his laptop thinking about how to structure his consulting cover letter

#4 Why you’re applying for the position at this specific firm

Don’t forget to make it crystal clear in your cover letter why you are applying for this exact position in this firm. Identify unique reasons as to why you think McKinsey, Bain, Deloitte, or any other firm is your firm of choice. For example, identify inspiring people or projects that caught your eye and sparked your interest.

✅ Here’s an example of what this could look like: “[Name of consulting firm] specifically appeals to me for several reasons. From attending the [consulting firm] info session and speaking with consultants including John Smith and Jane Doe, I learned about the [distinguishing qualities] that make [consulting firm] an ideal place to start a career.”

#5 Solid conclusion

Almost done! Finalize your consulting cover letter with a to-the-point closing paragraph in which you restate why you believe you’re the right person for the job in question and how you can be of value to the company.

Also, don’t forget to thank the reader for their time and consideration.

✅ Here’s an example: “Combined with strong academic achievements and a track record of student leadership, these skills would allow me to contribute to [name of consulting firm]’s success.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely, 
[Your name]”

Our 6 best consulting cover letter tips

Well, you know what a consulting cover letter looks like now. But cover letters for consulting jobs are quite unique. Let us give you a few additional tips to make sure you really stand out.

Tip #1: Show your value

Listing as many personal achievements as possible is a common mistake that many applicants make when applying for consulting positions. Don’t do the same.

💡 Tip: Demonstrate in your consulting cover letter how you can become a valuable employee instead of focusing on how you can benefit personally from the position. Make sure you put the short-term and long-term goals of the firm into perspective here. Screeners are looking for candidates who can help the company become better, not those who are simply using the job as an enriching career opportunity for themselves.

Tip #2: Use evidence-based storytelling to highlight your experience

As we mentioned earlier, the goal for your cover letter should be to tell your story. Therefore, do not simply list your skills and abilities, but demonstrate how various experiences have molded you into the ideal candidate.

💡 Tip: Instead of simply stating that you possess leadership skills, give a concrete example of a situation where you showed your leadership qualities. This will make your cover letter much easier to read and help you stand out from applicants who may just tell that they are a leader.

Tip #3: Match your cover letter to your resume

Your cover letter should work hand in hand with your consulting resume. In it, you should highlight achievements, skills, and experiences that are relevant to the position.

💡 Tip: Make sure that your “unique selling points” are mentioned in the first few paragraphs of your cover letter to pique the interest of the hiring manager. Often, they don’t actually read your entire resume, but instead scan through it.

By going into detail about achievements in your cover letter, you essentially draw their attention (and give yourself a better chance to land an interview). 

🤫 We’ve also got you covered when it comes to preparing for the next stage in the application process. Just check out our guide on how to make a good first impression in a job interview.

Tip #4: Do some networking

It might sound surprising, but networking is key for a successful consulting cover letter.

💡 Tip: Having networked with people from the firm you are applying to beforehand can be a big advantage for multiple reasons: First, they might recommend you to the hiring team. Second, these people will give you valuable insights into the characteristics of the firm that you can quote in your letter. Last but not least, it can always be helpful to engage in a little name-dropping.

Female young professional networking during an event before applying to her consulting dream job

Tip #5: One page is the perfect length

Especially if you have a lot of experience and a diverse skillset, it can be tempting to write a long cover letter. However, keeping it short and relevant is a much better strategy.

💡 Tip: Only highlight the experiences in your cover letter that are most relevant to the job position in question. You should be able to fit these experiences in only one page. This way it is easier for hiring managers to skim your cover letter without overlooking anything.

By reading it several times, you’ll notice more and more empty words and unnecessary content in your cover letter to cross out.

By the way, this brings us directly to our ➡️ next and last tip.

Tip #6: Proofread your letter multiple times

When you read through your cover letter at the end, don’t just look for unnecessary content. Also check your letter for grammatical or spelling mistakes.

💡 Tip: Be sure to start writing your cover letter early enough so that you have time to proofread (or have someone proofread) it thoroughly at the end. Submitting a cover letter with misspellings makes you appear careless and unprofessional; and that’s not the impression you want to create, right?

Besides, you can also ask friends or fellow professionals to proofread your cover letter for you or use spelling tools as an aid.

Group of three senior consultants reviewing and talking about potential new hires

Complete consulting cover letter examples

Before we jump to the final conclusion, we now have some full text cover letter samples for you. The first example is written from the perspective of an undergraduate student that is applying to McKinsey, the second one is well-suited for more experienced-hires.

📝 Note: You can use these consulting cover letter samples as a reference for crafting your own consulting cover letter. Of course, you should not simply copy them, but make sure you tailor the letter to your personal needs, skills, and the requirements of the job in question.

McKinsey cover letter sample (undergraduate student)

Dear [Recruiter’s name] and members of the McKinsey recruiting team,

After attending University XY for both my undergraduate and graduate education, I am convinced that I would be a valuable asset to McKinsey & Company as a Junior Associate in the Los Angeles, San Francisco or New York offices.

I first learnt about the distinctive characteristics that make McKinsey an excellent location to launch a career by attending the McKinsey info session and talking with consultants like John Smith and Jane Doe. Their accounts of the chance to participate in client meetings from day one at the firm as well as the complexity of problems they worked on is what particularly impressed me about McKinsey.

If offered the opportunity to work for McKinsey, I would bring my entrepreneurial spirit, problem-solving abilities, and collaborative nature to the company.

  • Entrepreneurial spirit: I was a football scholarship athlete at University XY and was supposed to move in a month before courses began. Because of this, I found myself unable to apply for conventional summer internships, so I started my own painting business. It was local, and I conducted business with people I trusted and who I knew through word of mouth. Using self-taught skills (e.g. Google Sketchup to model my projects before building them), I netted $25,000 in profit over the course of three summers to fund my education.
  • Problem solving: To increase the competitiveness of our off-season training, the University XY strength staff started a team-internal draft event. Throughout this draft, I was assigned the responsibility of drafting a team of my peers as the captain. Rather than relying on my perception of players, I took a more empirical approach: I located the testing data from the prior year and entered it into Excel along with forecasts for new team members. Then, using the average of all the exams, I was able to rate each of my teammates. Instead of using my own judgment while selecting my team, I carefully followed the objective rankings. I used the same strategy to win the following year’s draft as my team ultimately won the tournament.
  • Collaborative: When I was 5, my parents took roles as expats and moved our family to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. While attending a foreign school, I opted to live among the locals. This created a special atmosphere for me to grow up in, where I immediately learned that everyone had something to contribute and had meaningful perspectives and ideas worth taking into account. This recognition of diversity and drive to collaborate has given me the skills to work in a team and to form meaningful relationships with people of varied backgrounds.  

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,
[Signature] 
[Name]

Sample cover letter (experienced hire)

Dear [Recruiter’s name],

Having an educational background in finance with an emphasis on econometrics, game theory, and political economy, and two years of consulting experience at [name of firm], I am convinced that I would be a valuable asset to [name of consulting firm] as an Associate in the [city] office.

If given the opportunity, I would bring to [name of consulting firm] my drive and character, passion for results, and leadership skills, as the following outlines. 

  • Drive and Character: Prior to entering college, I worked as a paramedic in an ambulance. I learned a lot from this experience about collaborating with coworkers in emergency situations. Additionally, I gained knowledge about how I perform and how to remain composed and professional under pressure. Whatever the circumstances, I learned to always put the patient at the center of every action and work diligently. Therefore, I am convinced that I can add value for [name of consulting firm]’s clients since consulting also entails putting the client’s interests first.
  • Passion for Results: During a recent project for [name of firm], I was placed in an innovative concept location for beauty and lifestyle services, that had previously accounted for a monthly loss of $50,000 per month. Knowing that I had to replace the managing director and turn around a loss-making business quickly, I began examining the most relevant products, services, costs and customers. In order to turn around the business, I convinced management to pursue a number of key steps after converting this strategy into a plan. Three months later, we were able to launch a campaign that brought in $25,000 per month.
  • Leadership skills: As a student representative at XYZ University, I initiated a week where students could organize their own conferences and workshops in the Finance department. In order to succeed with this, I had to overcome two main obstacles: building a dedicated team and winning the academic staff’s support. I started by offering all students a stake in shaping the week and created teams to manage all aspects of an organization, delegating responsibilities to team leaders. Most of all, this experience taught me how to motivate people and leverage their potential. In the end, the teams were successful in compiling a fantastic speaker lineup. We were able to get the final consent of the academic staff by framing the week as an opportunity to publicize the school in the media. Key to transforming this ambitious plan into reality was to understand the perspectives of multiple stakeholders and identify what they really cared about.

Combined with strong academic and work-related achievements, these skills would allow me to contribute to [name of consulting firm]’s success.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best Regards, 
[Signature] 
[Name]

How to write a consulting cover letter – conclusion

To conclude, a consulting cover letter is both, a vital part of any application for a consulting position and a test of your writing and communication skills that you can pass with flying colors if you put in some time and effort.

🙌 Writing a great consulting cover letter definitely requires a lot of work, but we hope that this guide will make it a bit easier for you.

To make sure that your cover letter is the best it can be, start with researching the characteristics and skills valued by the consulting firms you’re interested in and then pick the most compelling stories from your experience that match these skills.

In addition, quantify your experiences and results whenever possible and use a tightened language to show your point as efficiently as possible. At the end of the cover letter, express your interest again and close with a strong but effective bottom line.

🚀 We wish you the best of luck with your job application!

Consulting cover letter – FAQ

How do I write a cover letter for a consulting job?

In order to write a great consulting cover letter, you should first know what consulting firms are really looking for in candidates. After that, you can draft your letter accordingly. Make sure to include at least five components: 1️⃣ a strong opening, 2️⃣ one or two stories on why you are a great candidate and 3️⃣ why consulting is the right fit for you, 4️⃣ reasons why you are applying to the specific firm and 5️⃣ a solid closing.

Do you need a cover letter for consulting jobs?

Yes, a cover letter is requested by most consulting firms. We also recommend including a cover letter, even in companies where this is not compulsory, in order to stand out from the competition. This applies to consulting jobs in particular, even more so than in other industries.

Why do consultancies ask for a cover letter?

There are two main reasons why consulting firms ask for cover letters: First, they want to know if you have a genuine interest in working for a particular firm and if you have the skills needed to be a consultant. Second, a consulting cover letter always also is a disguised writing test.