It’s tough to get into McKinsey
A recent study released by The Guardian states that you have, on average, 15 to 20 seconds to get the attention of a recruiter. You are competing for the recruiters’ attention as she reads 100s of resumes on any given day (depending on the office location of course). 75% of applicants are already rejected at this stage.
Additionally, many top-tier consulting firms such as McKinsey, Bain, or the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) have introduced computer-based pre-screenings of your application documents. If your resume or CV doesn’t hit certain keywords or contains specific content or phrases, you are automatically removed from the recruiting process.
Students that want to start their McKinsey careers first need to go through resume screening.
What’s the purpose of your resume?
As a result of this streamlined process, the recruiter will have a fairly clear picture of your fit within a very short time span. In the competitive field of consulting, you want to deliver a perfect resume to maximize your chances to receive an interview invitation. With that in mind, having a perfect consulting resume, you should answer the following three questions with a ‘yes’.
- Does your resume allow the recruiter to get an accurate picture of you
in 20 seconds?
- Does your resume show you in the best possible light?
- Is your resume tailored to the consulting industry and the employer at hand?
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The content of your McKinsey resume
The million-dollar question. How should your resume or CV for McKinsey, BCG, and Bain look like? A consulting resume McKinsey style should include the following content and consulting resume keywords and phrases to be considered for the case interviews?
It’s not rocket science and you don’t necessarily need to have built wells in developing countries to be considered for a job. After all, it comes down to 4 key areas:
Education. You need to score in two areas to hit the requirements here. First, top-tier consulting firms generally only hire from the most prestigious universities in their geography. While in the US most candidates come from Ivey League, in the UK from Oxbridge and LSE, in countries like Germany the concept of target schools is not adhered to as strictly. Even in the latter case, you would need to come from a reputable university. Second, you need to be among the top students (top 5-10% depending on your subject and university) in your peer group. Firms like McKinsey know exactly how your grades relate to other students of your university and degree. Lastly, in some geographies, you need a master’s degree while in others a bachelor’s degree is fine. The trend is generally now to also allow applicants with bachelor’s degrees.
Professional experience. Good work experience counts, either through internships or full-time positions (when applying as an experienced hire). Here, we see some variation across geographies depending on the internship culture of a country. If it is not common to do internships during your studies, then McKinsey et al. would likely not ask for it. However, in many European countries, you are expected to have concluded internships with at least 2-3 reputable companies in areas that need similar skills to management consulting before moving into consulting. Ask your recruiter openly. They are usually very upfront about what additional content your resume would need to be considered as a prospect or interview candidate.
International exposure. Depending on the office or geography you apply to, this is more or less relevant. However, in many geographies, it is nowadays expected to have done either an internship abroad or an exchange semester at a reputable university. For details, discuss with the local recruiters or the office you want to apply to in order to make sure you can plan ahead.
Extracurricular activities. Don’t be a boring person. Highlight that you have something to show for besides good grades and prestigious internship experiences. Anything goes that demonstrates your passion and motivation, and ideally, conveys some of the traits that consulting firms screen for (e.g., leadership as the captain of some sports team – the classic).
Applicants need to be strong in at least 3 of these areas to be considered for their McKinsey careers. The better you are or the higher your spike in one, the more leeway you have in others. For instance, if you are an ex-Olympian, other areas won’t count as much anymore…You get the idea.
How we can help you
If you want professional help to tailor your application and pass the screening stage to kickstart your McKinsey careers, 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 McKinsey resume and McKinsey cover letter example as well as resume and cover letter editing services for McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group (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, cover letter examples, 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.