Thursday, March 8, 2007

Resume Cover Letter

Resume Cover Letter - For Investment Banking Jobs

A resume cover letter is a sales letter that lands you interviews. Stop writing it the hard way. Here are the two key elements for a job application letter unique to any investment banking positions: short and precise.

Investment bankers never have time to read long cover letters. They usually spend 20 seconds on each of them. Therefore you have a very tight word count and every word should add value.

Though a resume cover letter has to be short, you do need to get across a lot of messages in order to make the hiring manager wants to see you. Here is a formula.

A 20-second cover letter must answer all these questions precisely:

1. What are you doing?
2. What do you want to do?
3. What are you able to do?
4. What do you want the reader to do?

In my eight years’ life as a headhunter for investment banking jobs, here is one of the most classic cover letters that I have read. I have re-phrased it in order to groom it up and protect the author’s privacy.

Trader Positions

Hello, my name is Anna Maria D’Souza and am currently trading live Asian markets for a $1 billion hedge fund in London. I am willing to relocate given the right fit and opportunity. In a nutshell, I have my own book as well as do some facilitation whenever I am needed. I have experience in a variety of products ranging from cash, options/derivatives, CB's, etc.

Please let me know who I should talk to in order to pursue opportunities.

Believe it or not, this cover letter generated three replies within five minutes, even without attaching a resume.

Obviously, this classic investment banking resume cover letter is from an experienced trader. What if we are a beginner or have less experience? Can we do something similar? Yes. Just copy my formula and answer the four questions I have set.

Here is a draft, assuming I am a fresh graduate. As nowadays almost all cover letters and resumes come through email, I have therefore omitted the traditional letter format.

Entry Level Analyst Position

Hello, my name is Anna Maria D’Souza. I have just obtained my master’s degree from the Yale University. My focus was on financial engineering and economics. I am looking for an entry level analyst position. I have been a quantitative analyst intern at Goldman Sachs and have a good understanding of the US and Asian markets.

I have attached my resume and would welcome an opportunity to meet you. Please contact me on 12345678 or email

Remember, in a 20-second resume cover letter, every word counts. Every word should add value. Never write long sentences, such as ‘I take the liberty to submit my resume’ or ‘I would most appreciate it if you would call me for an interview’.

What if I am replying to an ad? Well, easy, use the same formula and modify the headline like this.

Entry Level Analyst Position - Reply to Your Advertised Vacancy

Consider the busy level of bankers, your 20-second resume cover letter will certainly attract the most attention and is a guarantee that the hiring manager read your letter in full and wants to see you.

Tomorrow, I’ll introduce a key figure in writing resume cover letters. He will certainly help you write in an appropriate tone and with his help, you are going to have your phone ring off the hook with job interviews.

Recommended websites:
Amazing Cover Letter
Executive Search Online

Resume Cover Letter


kevin said...

Thanks for the awesome tips, really appreciate it.

Steven said...

As a final year undergraduate, your blog has got to be the most useful resource I have come up on for IB applications. I'm sure many people, including myself really appreciate the tips and advice you're giving. I have a question about the short coverletter example. Is it unnecessary to provide answers in the coverletter for questions such as "Why choose us?" Or "what do you know about us?" to provide a feeling of a personalised coverletter instead of a copy and paste for every company type?

Anna Maria D'Souza said...

Don't rush to answer those questions. Leave them to an interview. The objective of a cover letter is to win an interview. The hiring manager has to do an initial matching, as to determine what they have to offer matches your expectations. A short cover letter should contain all the elements to help the hiring manager in doing so.

Of course you won't send the same letter to every company. Tailor it to fit individual employers.

Benj said...

Just wondering if you have cover letters that were sent to actual banks, instead of cover letters that were sent to you asking for your services because they seem to be completely different letters achieving completely different goals. On one hand, you are trying to land a highly competitive job, and on the other, you are merely sending informing a headhunter that you would like her services (ie. Hi I am willing to be your client and HELP YOU get PAID).

Take the cover letter of the Yale student who interned at Goldman Sachs for instance. If you sent that letter into banks as a cover letter, I'm pretty sure the hiring managers would think that this person put zero effort into his cover letter and simply copy and pasted it for every bank he applied to. There is nothing in that cover letter that stands out the slightest bit...isn't Jim Sweeny's big strategy for the cover letter to jump out and grab the attention of the hiring manager?