Hello again! In our third Back-to-School post, we’ll discuss resumes, cover letters, and case buddy assignments.
As a reminder, these posts are tailored to our undergraduate clients, whose recruiting schedules often follow the below timeline:
- Mid-September: Resume drop, interview invites, firm case buddy assignments
- Mid-to-Late September: Round 1 interviews, on-campus
- Late September – Early October Round 2 interviews, in-office
- Mid October: Offers
Once you’ve navigated the whirlwind of on-campus recruiting events, the next step in your consulting application is to submit your resume and cover letter.
Don’t underestimate how important it is to deliver a top-notch set of documents, regardless of how much time you’ve already spent networking. There are a fair number of candidates who land an interview because of their resume and cover letter alone, and its not uncommon for recruits who were considered “high priority” after networking events to be turned away for a sloppy resume or cover letter.
To help you put your best foot forward, here are a few points to keep in mind:
- From the Heart: Think of your cover letter as a love letter to your target firms. What do you like about them? Which experiences of yours have led you to them? What unique traits make you and the firm a good pairing? Be specific, be clear, and be genuine in crafting this message. Recruiters can sniff out a copy-paste job a mile away – don’t lose your interview spot due to laziness!
- Quantify: While the cover letter is like a love letter, the resume is like a performance report. The main goal is to establish your track record for driving success. Your message will be stronger if you provide numbers to quantify your impact on the world. Remember that Excel tool you built during your internship? How many hours did it save the employer? And that Investments Club you’re president of – by what percentage did membership grow since you took office?
- The Basics: Real talk – Grammar, spelling, and alignment mistakes are fairly common reasons for an applicant to be dropped. To double-check yourself and ensure that your resume and cover letter are ready for prime-time, print your documents and have someone else read through them.
- Insider’s Insight: It’s helpful to understand the voodoo that goes into selecting interview applicants. Oftentimes over 100 resumes will be submitted for 5-10 positions. To efficiently identify the top candidates based on resumes and cover letters, recruiting teams will divide the reviews among themselves (e.g. Jane has applicants Abernathy – Flannigan, Joe will take applicants Gaines – Miller, and so on). Typically, at least 2 consultants will read each resume to eliminate any favoritism in grading. During the review, data is captured in a database including GPA, SAT / ACT scores, majors, minors, and contact info. Candidates will be given a rating across several metrics based on the content of their documents. Examples include demonstrated technical skills, leadership experience, relevant education and work experiences. This all takes place in less than 60 seconds per applicant, hence why we recommend concise, clear, and flawless documents.
Case Buddy Assignments
If you’re awarded an interview, you’ll typically be assigned a “case buddy” to help you practice your case skills. These buddies are usually in their 1st or 2nd year in consulting and are involved in on-campus recruiting. They’ll reach-out to you and provide several time slots (usually nights and weekends) for you to hop on a call, navigate a live case, and discuss your performance. The case itself will be typical for a first-round interview and last about one hour. Each applicant will likely receive the same case so that everyone starts from the same baseline.
To make the most out of your case buddy session, consider the below:
- Preparation: You’ll hear that your performance doesn’t matter. It does. Whether it is captured on your recruiting record or simply remains in the consultant’s memory, there is a strong chance that it will come-up during post-interview deliberations. For example, a partner might turn to your case buddy and say “Well, we just can’t decide between Arun and Zara based on their interviews. How did they do when you met with them for the practice case?” In this instance, you want to be the candidate that came prepared and performed well, not the candidate that was learning cases for the first time. In short: make sure that you’ve done at least 4 live cases with peers or professionals before you conduct a case with your assigned case buddy.
- Show-Up: For the consulting recruiters, the case buddy gig can be a lot of fun. Consultants love meeting students from their alma mater and helping foster their development. That said, recruiting is typically a “nights and weekends” activity, which means that your case buddy is doing overtime after their client work to meet with you. As such, it is paramount that you are on-time, engaging, and follow their cues as to when your time is up. You’d hate to get dinged for a tardy start or a sluggish performance.
- Have Fun! This is a learning opportunity and a great time for you to put your best foot forward! Be prepared and be professional, but also enjoy your time, take some risks, and get to know your potential future colleague!
With application deadlines and first round interviews rapidly approaching, we hope this advice helps you maximize your chances of landing an interview and making a strong first impression with your case buddy!