How to Write a Cover Letter for Investment Banking Jobs

Surveys show that a potential employer spends less than 15 seconds reading a cover letter. In your investment banking job search, your resume is your primary sales tool while the cover letter often serves as a quick first impression with an employer. It is an important document that is frequently abused through the use of unfocused, irrelevant content. This happens because the purpose of the cover letter is often misunderstood.

There is no such thing as a generic investment banking cover letter. As we have written before, firms have very specific hiring needs. There is a gap in their team and they are looking to close that gap. Your cover letter should reflect this understanding by addressing the need specifically. It is very simple, if your cover letter misses the mark, you won’t get an interview.

 

A cover letter answers critical questions for the reader:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you bring to the table?
  • What do you want?
  • How good are your written communication skills?

Your investment banking cover letter should be brief (never more than one page) and easy to visually scan. The right information in the correct format gets the job done.

A good formula to follow is this three paragraph format:

 

Who are you?
The letterhead gives them your name, so begin with your unique selling proposition (USP): “An investment banker serving the needs of wealthy clients…” Qualify it with scope of experience: “… over 15 years of trader expertise and portfolio management of $1.5B+….” If you have been referred by an employee of the company, mention it here. Use two or three brief sentences to orient your reader.

 

What do you want?
You want to be the solution to the employer’s problem. No doubt you have many abilities of use to an investment firm, but the cover letter is not the place to explore all of them. Give one strong reason to convince your reader to turn to the resume. Think about the issues the firm is trying to solve and develop that as the body of your cover letter. Give examples to demonstrate your skill (preferably as bullets) brought over from your resume.

 

Close with a call to action.
After establishing you are the solution to their problem, invite a meeting to discuss company needs or goals and request they call you. Thank them for their time and consideration.

Remember, you have 15 seconds to capture the attention of the firm’s hiring manager. Your letter needs to be better than all the others in the pile on their desk (or in their email inbox).

 

- Previously published at jobsearchdigest.com

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