Ultimate Guide to Investment Banking Cover Letters

In Cover Letters | 5 minutes read

If you’re looking to improve your investment banking cover letter, look no further…

Here are 10 ideas that will show you how to increase the number of bankers who actually read it without messing around with the traditional banking cover letter model too much.

If you’re looking for more in-depth advice on how to write a cover letter that bankers love check out this free course.

How to Write Your Investment Banking Cover Letter The Smart Way

1. Minimalism is your best friend.  Long cover letters are enough to have bankers taking to tall buildings.  Bankers are time poor, short on attention and not in the mood to hear how you graduated top of your class despite a roller skating accident in junior year.  Short cover letters by contrast immediately command attention, because bankers can read them in seconds.  If you want your investment banking cover letter read, make it readable…

2. Two paragraphs is all you get.  Sounds crazy, right?  But it’s true.  What are we eliminating to make this magic feat happen?  Not much actually.  We’re just combining the “I’m applying” paragraph with the “Why that bank” paragraph.  And making the second paragraph the “About you” paragraph.  Some of you will be wondering where the “Thanks for considering” BS line is.  It’s gone!  A simple “Warm Regards” sign off with your name will do there.

3. Get the basics rights so bankers don’t scoff at your cover letter.  That means your name and contact details top right.  Then the date below that and to the left.  Just under that put the head of recruiting’s name – and absent that just “[Bank Name] Recruiting”.  Followed by basic bank details.  Leave out actual address, number etc…they know their own details!  Just below a simple greeting.

4. Open strongly with a killer first paragraph.  You want to cover who you are, what you’re studying (inc school, year, and possibly major), any relevant experience (eg IB internship) and what you’re applying for specifically.  Wrap up with a mention of a person you know from the bank and why they’ve convinced you this is the bank for you.

5. Continue on with speed into the second (and final!) paragraph.  Mention education achievements and an interesting/related leadership position or EC at college (eg IB club leader).  Follow up with your major work achievement/experience.  Relate both achievements to how they’ve readied you and increased your passion for banking.  This link is essential.

6. Make no mistakes.  Bankers love mistakes on your investment banking cover letter, because it means they don’t need to bother scheduling you in for an interview…you’re out.  Make sure you get your cover letter reviewed by an outsider to ensure this doesn’t happen to you, because a fresh set of eyes will always find new problems.  You can get your friends to hunt out grammar/spelling/punctuation/nonsensical mistakes, but only an actual investment banker can guarantee you have a good investment banking cover letter.  Consider getting your cover letter reviewed by an actual banker.

7. Avoid all the advice you’ve heard up until now.  There shall be no quoting founders in your cover letter, no brown nosing to the point of causing bankers to projectile vomit, no assumptive lines like “I can start…”, no selfish “I want to do IB to learn…” shit, no aggressive “I’ll ring you on Thursday to discuss further” BS.

8. Don’t send the same investment banking cover letter to every bank.  It’s hard to personalize a resume for each bank, but it is easy to do this for your cover letter.  Obviously you’ll do this when you address the freaking thing – although you’d be surprised how many students forget that one!  But personalization is most important when you talk about why them and who you know from them.  And also, when you talk about why your experience makes you the perfect fit for their bank.

9. Don’t ever quarantine important info in your cover letter.  That is, don’t ever put something in your cover letter and then leave it off your resume.  Remember what we said about cover letters above – they often don’t get read.  Imagine bankers missing out on the little factoid that you did a summer semester at LSE just because you thought they would do the right thing and read your cover letter!

10. Finally, approach your cover letter with a risk-averse mindset.  Sure we said avoid the traditional four paragraph cover letter, but that’s about where the progressiveness stops.  Keep your cover letter weird-free.  Sure, tell a story, but do it quickly and without letting anything too personal slip out.  If you take all 10 tips on board, you’ll have a good investment banking cover letter in no time.

(Photo by pacomexico)

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