Speculative Cover Letter Banking Sales

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https://news.efinancialcareers.com/uk-en/185046/much-earn-now-investment-banker-30s/

Do you really need to write a cover letter when you’re applying for a job in an investment bank? These days, it’s surely all about the skills in your CV – who’s got the time to read that extra blurb saying how perfect you are for the role?

Not recruiters working with experienced hires. Most of the banking recruiters we speak to treat the cover letters (or ‘cover emails’) they receive from experienced candidates as an irrelevance. “For experienced roles, we rarely look at cover letters,” says Logan Naidu, CEO of London-based financial services recruitment firm Dartmouth Partners. “I don’t really read the cover letter, I just go for the CV,” agrees Richard Hoar, director of banking and financial services at Goodman Masson. “I look at the CV and then I phone them. – If the CV is relevant, I’ll get everything that would have been in the cover letter from that call.”

Before you start sending CVs and resumes for banking jobs without any preamble whatsoever, though, it’s worth bearing in mind that there are some situations in which cover letters can make all the difference.  

These include:

  • When you’re applying for graduate jobs in banking.
  • When you’re applying to banks directly (without going through external recruiters),
  • And… when you happen to be using a recruiter who simply likes cover letters (hard to tell!).

“For graduate hires, cover letters are very important,” says Naidu. Just how important is reflected by the fact that some banks specify them as a must-have in their graduate recruitment process.Banks like Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Barclays, Morgan Stanley and Macquarie all demand that their would-be analysts in Europe write cover letters or something very similar, says Victoria McLean, a former Goldman Sachs recruiter and founder of banking CV specialists, City CV. 

Goldman Sachs is particularly demanding – it requests that graduate applicants write a personal statement which is effectively a cover letter in 300 words or less.  In theory, Goldman Sachs is ditching its cover letter process and will soon be using HireVue digital interviews to select all its student hires, but for the moment the 300 word killer cover letter is still an integral part of the Goldman recruitment process. A former recruiter at the firm told us it’s very important. “Some students were excellent until they got to the cover letter,” – those 300 words let them down.

What makes a good banking cover letter? Mai Le, a former Goldman Sachs investment banking associate runs CoverLetterLibrary, a community which houses a collection of cover letters that have enabled juniors to get jobs at banks in the past. Le says the best cover letters have two things in common: narrative structure (they emphasize your story and show the choices that brought you here) and facts and figures that underscore your background and achievements. By comparison, Le says the worst banking cover letters suffer from key-word stuffing, irrelevant information and spelling and grammatical mistakes.

It can help to follow a general template… 

You need to tailor your cover letters for each job you apply to. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t write a cover letter that follows a template. It does mean that each time you apply for a new job, you will need to fill in the template all over again.

McLean suggests your template follows the following format: Introduction. Why me? Why you? Why this job? In total, the text within the template should be no more than 750 words, or one A4 page, long. Le says some candidates also use a format that’s ordered as, Why this job? Why this bank? Why me? “It’s a matter of personal preference,” she says. Ultimately, you want all these elements in the cover letter and should go with which ever you feel comfortable with.

Either way, here’s what to include.

The easy introductory paragraph

The first paragraph is all about explaining why you’re writing. If you’re applying for a graduate job in a bank, keep it short and sweet.

“The first paragraph is just to say who you are and why you’re writing the letter,” says McLean.

This paragraph might read something like. “I am an X with X year history of X at global banking firms including X as well as X. I have been working for X for the past X years.”

If you’re writing a Goldman Sachs cover letter that’s 300 words or less, you can ditch this style of opening paragraph. – There’s just no space for it.

If you’re writing to a recruiter, there’s less need to be quite so brief with your introduction. Say who you are, and explain why you’ve approached that recruiter in particular: “If someone says they’ve been referred to me by someone I know and respect, I will sit up and pay attention,” says Branthover. “The same applies if they say they’ve learned that I mentor women and that this is something they’re interested in too.”

In other words, when you’re writing a cover letter to a recruiter, you need to know who you’re writing to. Use this introductory paragraph to address them in person. Flattery will get you everywhere.

The selling yourself paragraph. ‘Why you?’

The second paragraph is usually harder. This is where you need to start selling yourself, expressing your personality, and explaining why you’re such a hot catch. It’s here that you can add in some of the narrative explaining how you came to apply for this role, plus some of the substantiating figures that Le says make successful cover letters so effective. Don’t use bland and empty phrases like, “I am a determined, motivated person.” Do look at the key words and skills used to describe the job you’re applying for and (without too obviously reiterating the ad) explain how you match them. Focus on the results and on outcomes you’ve achieved in similar situations in the past.  You need to be specific and you need to bring yourself to life.

If you’re writing a cover letter to accompany a graduate application, McLean says you can use the second paragraph to talk about what you’ve studied and how it’s relevant. If you’ve studied finance and know how to do a DCF, now’s the time to mention that. If you haven’t studied finance but have good relationship management skills and you want to work in M&A (a relationship-focused business), say that here. Provide EVIDENCE for the skills you’re claiming to have.- List any awards you’ve won. Never, ever, make empty statements. “Many successful trading cover letters feature the candidate’s trading return profile and their rationales for their success or failure,” says Le. ” – Cover letters for sales positions highlight the candidate’s track record that evident their ability as a natural salesperson.”

The motivational paragraph. ‘Why thisjob (in this sector?)’

If you’re an experienced hire applying through a recruiter or applying directly to a bank, this is where you explain why you want the job you’re applying for. If you’re a student applying for a first job, this is why you need to explain why you want this job and why you want to work in this sector. Be specific – you’ll need to know about the job and the sector before you start this section.

As a student, you’ll need to link your skills back to your motivation for working in that area of banking above others, says McLean. Why M&A? Why not sales and trading? Why not compliance? – If you want to work in operations, for example, explain how you have a passion for building systems and improving efficiency, as evidenced by your system for serving customers in your weekend job…

The flattering paragraph. ‘Why this bank?’

The fourth paragraph is all about explaining why you want to work for that particular bank. Again, you need to be specific. McLean says graduates often copy and paste from banks’ own websites. For example, it’s not unheard of for them to write, “I want to work for Goldman Sachs because you have 170 locations across 90 cities in over 30 countries.”  This will get you nowhere.

The other ex-Goldman Sachs recruiter we spoke to said she particularly looked for, “creativity and effort and writing about Goldman Sachs,” when running through students’ cover letters. People were expected to say exactly why they wanted to work for Goldman rather than, say, J.P. Morgan.

Instead of just reiterating what you’ve read on banks’ websites, therefore, you need to cite some unusual reasons for choosing that bank that will make you stand out. If you’re a student, it helps to say that you’ve met some of the banks’ staff and were impressed by them.  Citigroup, for example, suggests that student cover letters reference encounters with the bank’s staff at recruitment events. – Make a note of the staff you meet and explain what they said or did that impressed you, and what made you think you’d like to work with them.

Mark Hatz, a former M&A associate at Goldman Sachs and Perella Weinberg Partners who now helps people get jobs in banking, says stressing your rapport with people you’ve met from the firm is particularly important when you’re applying for a job in M&A or capital markets: “These are advisory businesses and they want to see that you can build a rapport and work in a team. If you get the job, you’ll also be spending a lot of hours in the office with these people, so showing you like them is very important.”

It also helps to reference the bank’s strategy, to mention any awards the bank won, and to cite any conversations you’ve had with or comments you’ve read from other industry professionals and analysts who’ve given concrete reasons why it’s good place to work. Everything in this section needs to be positive. – You need to explain why you want to work for Deutsche Bank specifically without writing anything that denigrates its rivals. The more senior you are, the more you will need to reference solid strategy points at this stage.

“Show a grasp of where they are going, what the plan is and why this appeals to you,” says McLean. Show that you know their strategy and that you agree with the way they’re addressing challenges.

The call to action

Finally, you need to end the cover letter with a call to action. McLean suggests completing the letter with the following sentence: “I really look forward to hearing from you. I am available for interview and contactable by X.’

Simple. Except all of this has to be written in 750 words – or just 300 if you’re a student applying to Goldman Sachs. It’s not so easy after all.

Follow @MadameButcher

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If you are looking for a position in the field of sales, read and live by these cover letter samples featuring some of the most basic elements that recruiters look for in a sales cover letter. Customise them accordingly to fit your specific needs and qualifications.

Cover Letter Sample 1 (Entry Level, Print Copy)

This cover letter sample shows the proper format if you submit your cover letter in print form. In this case, the letter should be formatted as a formal business letter which includes a letterhead, date, inside address, salutation and complimentary close.

3 November 2015

Ms Ann Chan

Personnel Manager

XYZ Corporation
2/F Tall Building
1, Main Road
Hong Kong

Dear Ms Chan,

Please accept my resume as an application for the open position of Sales Associate in your company. As a fresh graduate of Business Administration, the position appears to fit wonderfully with my education, experience, and career interests.

Being a student of Far Eastern University, not only did I maintain excellent grades, but I was also a member of our school’s highly competitive and successful collegiate football team.

My background as a student and an athlete has taught me to be an efficient manager of my time which, I am confident, is one of the important qualities needed by any professional in the sales industry. My experience with working in a team environment has also instilled in me the value of teamwork and cooperation. As a member of the team, I had to listen, learn how to motivate myself and others and understand the differences that exist among the members of the team. Through my achievements as a student and an athlete, I have proven that I am passionate about the things I do as well as dedicated.

And while this would be my first time working in the field of sales, I am quite confident that with my skills and abilities, I can learn quickly and make an immediate impact to your team and to the company.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my application and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Signature

Peter Lee

 

Writing Tip: If you are a fresh graduate, or if you lack experience in the field that you are applying for, it is best to point up the experience and qualities that make you suitable for the job. In this cover letter sample, the candidate showcases his skills by telling his experience and achievements as a student and an athlete. Although he is new to the field of sales, he could impress the hiring manager with his optimistic tone and by indicating that he is a quick learner. 

 

Cover Letter Sample 2 (Experienced, Email Copy)

This cover letter shows the proper format if you submit your cover letter through email. Unlike a formal business letter, a cover email only requires a salutation at the beginning and an email signature at the bottom that includes your name, address and contact information.

Email Subject: Peter Lee, Medical Sales Representative Position

Dear Ms Chan,

I am writing in regards to the open sales position on your awesome team. With an excellent background in marketing and sales and over three years of experience in delivering high-quality sales solution, I am confident that I am a good candidate for the advertised post.

I started my career as a marketing associate in Corporate Holdings Management Inc., a leading real estate company in the country. My desire to transition to the sales industry led me to join Medical and Pharmaceutical Specialties Inc., a locally-owned pharmaceutical company, with whom I have now been associated with for the last two years.

During my tenure as a Medical Sales Representative, I was able to contribute to the strength of my sales team while forging stronger relationships with our clients. I also supervised the launch of several new products in the domestic market. I also won the coveted Sales Representative of the Month four times due to my contribution to the overall sales of my product division.

I am a committed individual who is highly organised and efficient. My colleagues as well as my clients will tell you I am friendly yet professional; a people person with superior follow-through; and excellent at building rapport and fostering mutually beneficial relationships.

In keeping with the skills and abilities required for the position, I can offer you:

● strong interpersonal skills with exceptional convincing power
● ability to sell products and services to clients while dealing competitive issues
● excellent phone and computer skills
● ability to maintain pleasant personality even in a high-stress environment
● exceptional time management and organisational skills
● proven ability to multi-task and think in an anticipatory way to be one step ahead of the process

With my work experience, skills and substantial accomplishments in the field of sales, all of which are discussed in detail in my enclosed resume, I respectfully ask for an opportunity to discuss my candidacy with you further in person.

Sincerely,

Peter Lee
1/F Team Building
2 Smooth Road
Hong Kong
Mobile: +852 XXXX XXXX

 

Writing Tip: Beside having the cover letter properly formatted, it is essential for you to clearly communicate your key accomplishments and skills that are relevant to the position you are applying for. The best way to do so is to use bullet points to outline or summarise your skill set, or to convey the value of your accomplishments in numerical form (e.g. percentages). 

 

NOTE: These application letter samples are for reference only. All information provided should be considered as fictional.

Read also:

7 common mistakes you might be making on your resume

Tips for job seekers to stand out from the crowd

How to negotiate for your salary during job interview

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