There a million ways you screw up your application to McKinsey, BCG, and Bain. Below are the most common we have seen, screening 100s of cover letters and resumes in McKinsey and afterward.
Please don’t repeat them. 🙂
Preparing your McKinsey, BCG, or Bain application documents
- Missing or faulty contact information such as phone number, email address, and potentially LinkedIn profile. Make sure it’s there and accurate.
- Phony spelling and grammar. Triple check everything as the resume/CV is your most valuable business card. Let a friend or the university career center read through it thoroughly.
- Outdated documents. Make sure the information provided in your application documents is current. Explain gaps in your resume/CV.
- Lack of highlights relevant to the position in the resume/ CV. List what targets you hit and what you achieved (ideally in some quantifiable manner).
- Applying with the wrong profile. You need to have the right profile to apply in the first place. This includes top grades, degrees from reputable universities, relevant work experience, international experience, and extra-curricular activities. If you don’t list them on your applications, chances are high, the automated system will put you on the rejected pile right away. It is very important that your CV shows a clear progression of responsibility and experience.
- Weak wording. You want to demonstrate your skills that would benefit the role you are applying for. Use action words to describe your tasks such as managing, leading, implementing, improving, decreasing, etc. Demonstrate both your people skills as well as hard skills. Show progress, promotion, and increased responsibility and initiative.
- Resumes/ CVs with a lack of formatting and/ or reverse chronological structure. Demonstrate your structured approach to everything!
- The resume/ CV is longer than two pages. Ideally, try to stick to one page but never ever go over two pages (unless you are a researcher with a long list of publications applying for some specific consulting research position). Consultants love concise and precise information. Make sure to double-check for unnecessary or redundant information. Stick to the three most important items per experience in your resume/ CV. Tell a concise story in your cover letter
- ‘Tweaking’ the odds. Stick to information that you can actually prove with supporting materials. Also, don’t list golfing as your new favorite hobby if you have never swung a club.
- The cover letter is a replication of the resume/ CV. Don’t just put the resume/CV items in longer sentences. Leverage the space you have in the cover letter to demonstrate that you are the right candidate based on certain experiences and skills referencing to the resume/CV.
- Use of empty phrases. Never just use phrases such as ‘quick-learner’ or ‘team-oriented’ without substantiating them with proof of experience.
Sending your application
- Applications sent as a mass (in bcc) to a number of different firms and recruiters. Make sure to tailor the documents as well as the email to each firm individually.
- Applications sent out for multiple positions within the same firm or for roles above your profile. Choose one and describe why you would be best suited for this position.
- Lack of formalities and niceties such as missing the salutatory address. Introduce yourself and let the interviewer know the purpose of the email or application.
- Sending .doc files. Make sure to convert your documents to PDF before sending.
How we can help you to get into McKinsey, BCG, and Bain
If you want professional help to tailor your application and pass the screening stage, check out our cover letter and resume services. As former McKinsey consultants, we have screened 100s of resumes and cover letters and know exactly what you need to include to move to the interviews.
We offer dedicated guides with templates on the perfect consulting resume and cover letter as well as resume and cover letter editing services for McKinsey, BCG, or Bain (obviously also applicable to all the other firms such as Oliver Wyman, Booz Allen Hamilton, strategy&, AT Kearney, Roland Berger, Deloitte, EY, KPMG, PWC, Accenture, L.E.K., etc.).
We discuss every aspect of the perfect consulting resume and cover letter in much more detail, including ready-to-use samples and templates to both give you the stories, phrases, and keywords needed to get to the interview as well as shorten your application preparation time significantly.
Florian spent 5 years with McKinsey as a senior consultant. He is an experienced consulting interviewer and problem-solving coach, having interviewed 100s of candidates in real and mock interviews. He started StrategyCase.com with the goal to make McKinsey more accessible for top-talent, using tailored and up-to-date know-how about its recruiting.