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McKinsey Cover Letter: Sample and Writing Tips (10+ Examples)

McKinsey Cover Letter: Sample and Writing Tips (10+ Examples)

You’re applying to the biggest of the Big 3. You need a McKinsey cover letter Sundar Pichai could have written. Here’s how to write one.

Jacques Buffett
Jacques Buffett
Career Expert

You’re applying to the world’s top consulting firm. In 2017, McKinsey attracted 750,000 applicants. That’s about the population of Seattle.

 

Of those applicants, how many do you think were successful?

 

Less than one percent.

 

To become that one-percenter, your application doesn’t just have to be good. It can’t even be great.

 

It has to be on fire. And a resume alone won’t do the trick.

 

You need a red-hot McKinsey cover letter. One that’ll get you an interview faster than you can say entrepreneurial drive and leadership abilities.

 

This guide will show you:

  • How to write a cover letter for McKinsey to be in the one percent.
  • A McKinsey cover letter sample better than 9 out of 10 other cover letters.
  • How to start and end a cover letter so it stands out.
  • Templates and tips for writing the best McKinsey and Company cover letter in the pile.

 

A cover letter McKinsey will love starts with one thing.

 

A highly effective template.

 

Here's one you can adapt to your own needs:

 

McKinsey Cover Letter Sample

 

Ting Huang

403 Argonne Street

Newark, DE 19711

302-309-5387

tinghuang909@gmail.com

 

10/03/2019

 

William Akers

Three World Trade Center 

175 Greenwich St 

New York, NY 10007

 

Dear William,

 

I am writing to apply for the Associate position at McKinsey & Company, Silicon Valley. I am confident your clients will be able to benefit from my unique skill set to help solve their complex challenges. My Ph.D. at Princeton on Linking Strategy with Inter‐Organisational Relationships has given me deep insights into contemporary business trends like globalization, vertical disintegration, the reduction in supplier bases, and the focusing of operations and outsourcing of non-core activities. This specialist knowledge will be an invaluable contribution to McKinsey’s specific practice teams.

 

In the pursuit of my doctorate, I have published three articles in the Academy of Management Annals on the topic of strategic planning and supply chain management. In a summer internship with BCG I was tasked with delivering creative solutions to a client’s corporate travel spend. This involved moving disparate procedures within different teams and offices into a single online solution that has resulted in annual savings of $1M+ and a weekly reduction of 50 hours in human resources. McKinsey’s clients look for tangible results and savings and I intend to deliver such value as an Associate.

 

Working as a McKinsey Associate would be the ultimate achievement for me. My experience and academic record has had the objective of developing the exceptional analytical and quantitative problem-solving skills and the ability to work collaboratively in a team environment that are non-negotiables for McKinsey. This position is a perfect match for my laser focused and data driven mindset and my absolute commitment to a powerful esprit de corps.

 

I would relish the chance to meet you to discuss how I can help to solve the most difficult business challenges such as leveraging my specialist knowledge of omnichannel integration to improve supply chain efficiency. I’d be delighted to demonstrate how my academic and professional pursuit of excellence in management consultancy can help McKinsey deliver the best to it’s blue chip clientele. 

 

Sincerely,

 

Ting Huang 

 

P.S. I’d also be delighted to show you how my commitment to creativity and entrepreneurial spirit won me the Santos-Dumont Prize at Princeton for my project on standardized ERP systems.

 

That’s a cover letter for McKinsey that’ll get you to the top of the consulting tree in no time.

 

Read on and we’ll explain why.

 

Want to write your cover letter fast? Use our cover letter builder. Choose from 20+ professional cover letter templates that match your resume. See actionable examples and get expert tips along the way.

 

sample resume and cover letter set

Sample Cover Letter for a Resume—See more cover letter templates and create your cover letter here.

 

We’ve also got a more general guide for careers in consultancy: Consulting Cover Letter: Example & Writing Guide

 

1

The Perfect McKinsey Cover Letter Template

 

Your cover letter is going to be one of hundreds. Recruiters need a way of sorting the wheat from the chaff. 

 

The fastest way to do this? Immediately delete any cover letter that doesn’t have the basic formatting right.

 

Here’s how to stop that happening:

 

The Best McKinsey Cover Letter Template [Checklist]

 

  • Your contact details
  • The company’s details
  • A salutation personalized to the hiring manager
  • An attention grabbing opening statement that highlights your achievements
  • A paragraph explaining why you’re the perfect McKinsey candidate
  • A paragraph showing your motivation to have this job
  • A closing statement with an irresistible call to action
  • Formal close (e.g., Sincerely,) and your name
  • A powerful postscript (P.S.) to seal the deal

 

Now let’s get writing.

 

For more detailed information on cover letter formatting see our guide: How to Format a Cover Letter for a Resume

 

2

Add a Header to Your McKinsey Cover Letter 

 

This might seem obvious but you’re applying for McKinsey. You need perfection from the outset.

 

Remember, eye-tracking studies prove the top left of the page is the first thing people look at. So get this first impression right.

 

Start you McKinsey cover letter header with:

  • Your name
  • Telephone number
  • Email address
  • Date
  • Hiring manager's name (and title)
  • Company name and address

 

You can also add:

  • Your job title
  • Your address
  • Links to your online presence (portfolio websites, LinkedIn, and Twitter)

 

Let’s put theory into practice:

 

McKinsey Cover Letter Header Example

 

right

Ting Huang

403 Argonne Street

Newark, DE 19711

302-309-5387

tinghuang909@gmail.com

 

10/03/2019

 

William Akers

Three World Trade Center 

175 Greenwich St 

New York, NY 10007

 

Need some pointers? Check out our guide: How to Write a Cover Letter Heading

 

3

Give Your McKinsey Cover Letter a Professional Salutation

 

What would you think if you received a letter addressed To Whom It May Concern?

 

Impersonal, lazy. Heck, even downright spammy.

 

You wouldn’t accept this and neither will the hiring manager at McKinsey. If you don’t make it personal then you may as well not bother applying at all.

 

It’s essential to find out their name and use it. This is a powerful strategy that actually activates the reader’s brain in a powerfully unique way.

 

Salutation on a McKinsey Cover Letter

 

RIGHT
Dear William Shatner,
WRONG

Dear Sir or Madam,

 

Remember, McKinsey is a conservative and traditional company. Use both first name and surname. For more relaxed workplaces just first name will do.

 

A whopping 84% of job seekers don’t bother to personalize the job application. The 16% that do are already ahead of the game.

 

What if you really can’t find the hiring manager’s name? Don’t sweat it, you can still make a smart and attention grabbing choice. 

 

Try these:

 

Addressing a McKinsey Cover Letter Without a Name

 

  • Dear Consultant Hiring Team,
  • Dear Associate Hiring Manager,

 

Snap. That’s the sound of the reader’s attention being switched on. 

 

You’ve made the salutation specific to the job being applied for and avoided the slumber inducing “To Whom It May Concern.”

 

Learn how to find the hiring manager’s name in our guide: How & to Whom You Should Address Your Cover Letter

 

4

Write an Incredible Opening Paragraph

 

You’ve hooked them with your salutation. Now you need an opening paragraph to your successful McKinsey cover letter.

 

Before you begin, get yourself in the McKinsey mindset. You’ve got to be Type A and you’re in it to win it. 

 

You’re a unique and powerful individual at the absolute pinnacle of achievement. A king of consulting.

 

You there? Good. Let’s begin with a McKinsey cover letter sample for a Ph.D. graduate applicant.

 

McKinsey Cover Letter Examples: Opening Paragraphs

 

WRONG
I am writing to apply for the Associate position at McKinsey & Company, Silicon Valley. I believe I am an excellent candidate because of my proven ability to implement practical improvements, my capabilities in problem-solving, high-level communication skills and strong leadership profile.

 

 

You hear that sound? That’s the sound of your cover letter being balled up and tossed in the trash.

 

This is dull, derivative and feels stock standard. Everything McKinsey isn’t.

 

RIGHT
I am writing to apply for the Associate position at McKinsey & Company, Silicon Valley. Your clients will be able to benefit from my unique skill set to help solve their complex challenges. My Ph.D. at Princeton on Linking Strategy with Inter‐Organisational Relationships has given me deep insights into contemporary business trends like globalization, vertical disintegration, the reduction in supplier bases, the focusing of operations and outsourcing of non-core activities. This specialist knowledge will be an invaluable contribution to McKinsey’s specific practice teams.

 

Much better. At McKinsey, it isn’t enough to just have an Ivy League business degree. The competition is brutal.

 

Here the applicant has highly specialized knowledge at a Ph.D. level. It's the crème de la crème achievement you need to turbocharge your McKinsey cover letter.

 

What’s more, it shows insight and focuses on McKinsey’s needs.

 

But what if you don’t have a terminal degree? Don’t sweat. But you’ll still need to start your McKinsey cover letter in style.

 

You’ll need to highlight significant achievements in your opening paragraph. Here are some ideas.

 

Sample Achievements for McKinsey Cover Letter

 

  • Founding a company
  • Work experience from a summer internship at one of the Big 3 consultancies
  • Inventing a cutting edge new technology or process

Pro Tip: McKinsey has a global staffing model. You could highlight prestigious international experience or fluency in foreign languages. Think fluency in Mandarin with a summer internship at Deutsche Bank Shanghai.

Find out more here: How to Begin a Cover Letter so the Hiring Manager Wants More

 

5

Explain Why You’re the Perfect McKinsey Candidate

 

We’re not kidding. For McKinsey, you’ve got to be perfect. Or at least give a damn good impression of perfection.

 

But wait. There’s a trap.

 

Don’t just rehash your resume in this part of your cover letter. Kick it up a notch by showing how you can help McKinsey. See how:

 

Sample Cover Letters for McKinsey: Central Paragraphs

 

RIGHT
In the pursuit of my doctorate, I have published three articles in the Academy of Management Annals on the topic of strategic planning and supply chain management. More specialist knowledge for the strategic planning team. In a summer internship with BCG I was tasked with delivering creative solutions to a client’s corporate travel spend. This involved moving disparate procedures within different teams and offices into a single online solution that has resulted in annual savings of $1M+ and a weekly reduction of 50 hours in human resources. McKinsey’s clients look for tangible results and savings and I intend to deliver such value as an Associate.

 

See what this does? This is top-notch experience. It includes quantifiable results and just like the example says it delivers value to McKinsey. 

 

WRONG
My work experience includes a summer internship at BCG. My duties included assessing business strategies of clients, including analysis of working capital, process workflows, financial inefficiency, and new business opportunities. I also provided advisory services in making decisions on mergers, acquisitions, and other financial opportunities.

 

It’s ok, but it won’t make the person reading it sit up and say “There’s our new associate!”

 

(What’s more, it reads like a rewrite of a resume experience section.)

 

Remember, McKinsey values specialization and moves consultants into specific practices early on. With the first cover letter example they’re already planning what team to assign you to.

 

6

Show Why You Really Want This Job With McKinsey

 

What else does McKinsey need in a candidate? It’s more than the sum of your experience and education.

 

It wants commitment, engagement and focus. McKinsey’s work culture has been described as a religion due to the sheer ruthless commitment its consultants have to company values.

 

And the firm is famed for it’s “up and out” policy where if you don’t get promoted within a certain amount of time after joining, you’re out.

 

With McKinsey you have to get this right. So in your McKinsey cover letter body:

  • Mention specific requirements in the job description.
  • Say why they excite you.
  • Explain how your skills can help.

 

The McKinsey cover letter sample below shows how:

 

Sample McKinsey Cover Letter: Your Motivation

 

RIGHT
Working as a McKinsey Associate would be the ultimate achievement for me. My experience and academic record has had the objective of developing the exceptional analytical and quantitative problem-solving skills and the ability to work collaboratively in a team environment that are non-negotiables for McKinsey. This position is a perfect match for my laser focused and data driven mindset and my absolute commitment to a powerful esprit de corps.

 

That put upon junior consultant? They’re paying attention now. 

 

You’ve demonstrated understanding of both the job requirements and the corporate culture. And you’ve shown real motivation.

 

WRONG
I am fully committed to McKinsey and its corporate goals. Seeking to leverage my experience to excel in the role of associate with McKinsey.

 

This one doesn’t work. It’s too generic and feels like you didn’t even read the job description.

Pro Tip: McKinsey loves buzzwords. Their big 3 are structure, credibility, and credentials. Keep them in mind when writing your successful McKinsey cover letter.

7

Make Your Offer in the Closing Paragraph

 

Your McKinsey cover letter is shaping up nicely.

 

Incredible introduction? Check.

 

Demonstration of a superior skill set? Check.

 

Explaining how you want this job? You’ve hit the ball out of the park.

 

Now it’s time to go in for the kill. Make an offer that’ll land you the interview.

 

McKinsey Cover Letter Examples: Closing Paragraphs

 

RIGHT
I would relish the chance to meet you to discuss how I can help to solve the most difficult business challenges such as leveraging my specialist knowledge of omnichannel integration to improve supply chain efficiency. I’d be delighted to demonstrate how my academic and professional pursuit of excellence in management consultancy can help McKinsey deliver the best to it’s blue chip clientele.

 

This McKinsey cover letter example seals the deal. It shows a true understanding of McKinsey’s goals and how you can help to achieve them. 

 

That mention of specialist knowledge and savings? Just the sort of thing McKinsey wants from its associates.

 

WRONG
I look forward to discussing this role further with you in an interview. Thank you for taking the time to consider my application.

 

Use this and you’ll only be consulting unemployment. It’s generic and shows no understanding of either McKinsey or the role.

 

Need more tips for ending your McKinsey cover letter? See our guide: How to End a Cover Letter: Complete Guide

 

8

Add P.S. to Your McKinsey Cover Letter To Land The Interview

 

No, not “P.S. I love you.” That’s sweet, but it won’t help here.

 

This is a little known strategy that could be the final piece in the puzzle.

 

Those two letters. P.S. They’re a surefire attention grabber. That junior consultant is guaranteed to keep reading.

 

Sample Postscript for a McKinsey Cover Letter

 

P.S. I’d also be delighted to show you how my commitment to creativity and entrepreneurial spirit won me the Santos-Dumont Prize at Princeton for my project on standardized ERP systems.

 

Snap. That’s a prestigious award from a prestigious university. Innovation? Commitment? That’s McKinsey catnip right there. 

 

Who wouldn’t want to get to meet you to know more?

 

P.S. Don’t forget to use the right formal closing for your letter before you use this trick. You know the drill. A Best Regards, Sincerely or Kind Regards will do nicely.

 

You see. The P.S. trick works!

Pro Tip: How long should a cover letter be? Short. One page, no exceptions. Three paragraphs are best. The first set of eyes to see it will be a junior consultant who has to review tons of cover letters. They won’t read more.

Key Takeaways

 

Writing a McKinsey cover letter doesn’t have to be hard. Just remember these lessons-learned: 

  • Get the McKinsey cover letter header right and personalize your greeting. Be attention-grabbing from the outset.
  • Start with impressive achievements and make them relevant to McKinsey.
  • Explain why you’re the perfect candidate and back it up with numbers.
  • Show your motivation and explain why you want this specific McKinsey job.
  • Finish with a call to action. Ask for the interview and offer something in return.
  • Add P.S. It’s the final attention grabber that will guarantee a call back.

 

Want more advice on how to craft a perfect McKinsey cover letter? Ask away in the comments below. We’d love to help.

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Jacques Buffett
Jacques Buffett
Jacques is a career expert committed to delivering top-notch job hunting advice. His guides will empower you to craft winning resumes and cover letters.

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