Writing your cover letter for consulting? Here is the third tip

Why You?

Why you?

By now you have prepared a great, well-structured and detailed story on why consulting and why the company. We’re halfway there. Now you need to explain why the company of your dreams should offer the job to YOU!

It’s not enough to say you are ambitious and hardworking. First, you will have to prove this statement. And how will you do that? Second, even if the interviewer believes you, are you sure they are looking for these exact traits? Let’s look in to this matter.

What qualities should you demonstrate? 

As you know, consultants often carry out surveys and make conclusions based on received information. The same is expected from candidates. It’s not hard to guess, that you don’t need to invent what qualities and traits to show in an interview. Do some research and you will find an answer. The list requirements are written on website of all the consulting companies.  For example:

From these pages you will find, that each company is looking for 4 qualities  (terms and descriptions vary, but the meaning is all the same):

  • Problem-solving: analytical abilities
  • Passion to achieve: the will to constantly achieve new heights
  • Results delivery / personal impact: result orientation
  • Leadership / team work: the ability to work in a team and take initiative when needed

Next goal – to show you obtain all of the above qualities.

How to demonstrate required consulting qualities

Parade method

I think you guessed right. As usual, you need to prepare a story. To be more exact, more than one story for each trait about your professional and academic life. As usual, each story should be logical, detailed and structured. It should reflect the situation, in which you demonstrated the necessary quality, your personal actions and the decision making mechanism you applied, as well as the result, preferably quantifiable.

In order to achieve the desired result, you can use several approaches. Z personally recommend the PARADE method by Victor Cheng as the most detailed method. It consists of the following:

  • Problem. What did the problem you / your team / organization encounter? What situation did you find yourself in?
  • Anticipated consequence. What would have happened if the problem hadn’t been solved? Why was it important to take action?
  • Role. What did your role consist of. Precisely yours, not “ours”. What was expected from you precisely?
  • Action. What did you do? What actions did you take?
  • Decision-making rationale. Why did you act in this or that way, what options did you have? What did you base your decision on?
  • End-result. What was the result? How did you quantify your result compared to the initial situation?

How to apply this method?

Prepare 1 o 2 sentences for each section and you will get a structured story describing your experience and achievements. For example:

Problem: «This year the number of students remaining in the debate club decreased to 23, while university financing required a minimum of 35 permanent participants».

Anticipated consequence. «Previous presentations of the club brought on average 8 to 10 regular students, which in our case wouldn’t have solved the problem. Lack of financing would’ve meant cancellation of several important events, including university competitions and participation in international events».

Role. «Among the club participants I was responsible for marketing and presentations, so it was up to me to find a solution».

Action + Decision-making rationale. «First, I concluded the old presentation wouldn’t attract a sufficient amount of newcomers. I decided to investigate what would attract new students to join the case club. I asked 2 friends to help me and each one of us surveyed 15 students. It turned out students weren’t interested in practicing English or developing their presentation skills – what for many years was thought to be the clubs strong points. However, students were interested to participate in club events and the opportunity of going abroad. I presented these results to my colleagues and persuaded them to change our selling strategy.My colleague prepared new banners and we put them up on university billboards. In a week, we organized a new club presentation, where we told about networking opportunities and trips of debaters to other countries».

End-result. «There were over 50 people at the presentation, whereas usually there are 25-30. The presentation was a success and 45 students came to our second meeting. In a month there were 40 stable participants in the club (i.e. 17 newcomers). The club got the required funding and I got an invaluable marketing experience».

One story for several questions

As you might understand, this story can be attributed to may categories: leadership, result orientation, analytics and problem solving in a way too. Whatever the interviewer asks, you can tell this story and it will fit.

However, you should have several stories in hand. If the interviewers discuss your candidacy and it turns out you told everyone the same story, your impression might be ruined.

What if the result of the story was negative?

For example, you didn’t achieve the estimated result. This could happen and it doesn’t mean the story won’t suit the interview. You should simply add (а) what lesson did you learn and (b) what would you have done differently if you had found yourself in a similar situation again. Show that you can learn from your mistakes.

So, we have discussed how prepare your motivational story for consulting. It consists of three smaller stories (why consulting, why company, why you), where each story in itself has several sections. You will easily write a motivation letter consisting of three paragraphs and answer all questions of an interview. It will take you some time to prepare your motivational story, but you will see, these efforts will pay off. Especially in the final round.

Now is the time to write your consulting cover letter and resume.

Good luck!