From the monthly archives:

May 2009

Last time, we looked at the opening paragraphs and crucial experience section of your cover letter.

In the final paragraph of your cover letter, you should mention that you’ve enclosed your resume and provide your contact information. You might mention that you look forward to hearing from them soon, and thank them for taking the time to look over your resume. Others, however, suggest that you be more proactive and say that you are going to follow up in a few days with a phone call. Then, of course, there’s your signature, typed name, and the word “enclosure” to indicate your resume is attached.

You can find a number of sample investment banking cover letters to review at Babson College’s Center for Career Development.

A few final tips. Always keep your cover letter concise. Put it aside for a day or two and look at it again, fresh, to make sure one thought leads clearly into the next, and that you don’t jump around from idea to idea.

Always keep the interests of your prospective employer top of mind. Try to slant your letter towards what they want and need. What’s in it for them and what you can bring to their organization.

Generic cover letters let you respond to many opportunities and send out your resume quickly. But we have found that customizing your cover letter, at least a little bit, to fit the particular investment banking job you’re applying for, is more effective. When you think about it, it’s also proof that you really do consider this position special.

Again, an obvious but often overlooked point, double and triple-check your cover letter for typos. And make sure your cover letter is aesthetically pleasing and well formatted. The employer will be looking for signs of attention to detail, spelling, grammer and your overall professionalism in your presentation. That is, after all, a large part of what you’ll be doing as an investment banker.


Babson College, Center for Career Development

Stanford University Career Development Center

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Some people suggest that resume cover letters aren’t relevant in this era of Internet-posted resumes and social media networking. Others point out that big investment banks barely have 30 seconds to scan your resume, let alone your cover letter.

Nevertheless, a well-crafted cover letter gives you one more chance to demonstrate your professionalism, add some personality and highlight the one or two unique things about your background. But there are a few rules you need to follow.

First, keep it brief. One page only, and 3-4 paragraphs at the most. Aside from the obvious, addressing it to the correct person and spelling their name, title and company name correctly, it should follow this pattern.

Your first paragraph should introduce yourself and your reason for writing, or how you learned about a particular opportunity. If you are following up on a chance encounter with a person or being referred by someone else, by all means mention their name. Then mention, in one sentence, what attracts you to this position or company. Be sure to keep your first paragraph short; no more than 2-3 sentences.

Your second paragraph is usually the longest. This is where you mention what you are currently doing, and why you are a good candidate for the job. Focus on 2-3 key skills that make you well qualified for the position to which you’re applying. Mention relevant experience, unique skills, and anything else that sets you apart. Use active verbs and specific language. Although this paragraph should only be 4-5 sentences, some people break this part into two separate paragraphs, to avoid having too large a block of text on the page.

Next time, we’ll look at what should be in the last paragraph of your investment banking job cover letter, and some other tips that can make it more compelling.

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If you want any chance at moving to the next round on your search for an investment banking job, your resume must be impeccable. Presentation is critical. A huge part of an investment banking analyst’s job is to catch formatting, math and spelling mistakes in pitch documents and presentations, and fix them. So if your text is not aligned properly or there are too many different fonts or if there’s a grammatical or spelling mistake on your one-page document, you’ve already shown a glaring lack of attention to detail. It should look aesthetically pleasing, even before someone starts reading it. So spend the time to make it perfect.

Your key statements about job experience, education and accomplishes should all be phrased as bullets, to be as concise as possible. Your resume should fit on one page. If top executives running major investment banks can keep their resumes to one page, so can you. If it runs more than one page, you need to pare down the less impressive information.

Most experts recommend using just two conservative fonts such as Times Roman and Ariel, and limiting the variations in size of fonts, bolding, italics. An investment banking resume is one time when small size type (12 pt or less) and a dense appearance on the page can be a positive. In fact, it indicates that you’ve spent a fair amount of time to condense your experience into one, densely-packed document.

By all means, include an “Other Interests” section. This is another important way to distinguish yourself from other candidates, and add some personality to your resume. If you are a black belt in karate or speak fluent Mandarin or have other unique skills or talents, use them to catch someone’s attention. Involvement in organized sports shows that you are a team player. Community and volunteer activities add a personal touch to your background, too. They demonstrate that you are a well-rounded person and able to work well in groups.

You can see a gallery of excellent investment banking resumes at Banker’s Ball.

Above all, remember that you need to grab someone’s attention in just 20 seconds. You must make a few specific items from your resume jump off the page as unique and relevant to the job you are applying to. Keep that in mind as you’re revising your resume for the 10th time and you’ll have a leg up on the competition.


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Investment Banking Jobs – Crafting an Effective Resume

May 18, 2009

As you can imagine, investment banks are flooded with resumes of candidates hoping to land a position as an intern, analyst, associate and even more senior jobs. That means your resume has only 20-30 seconds to catch the interest of the investment banker reviewing it, in order for you to get the next stage of […]

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Investment Banking Traders

May 13, 2009

Since investment markets and products change quickly, there are very few formal training programs for traders. Almost all the training is learned on-the-job. Salaries start below $100,000 but compensation is supplemented by annual bonuses, which can rise to stratospheric levels. Top traders at investment banks can be among the best paid members of the firm. […]

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Investment Banking Jobs – Sales and Trading

May 11, 2009

Some of the most exciting and desirable jobs in investment banking are in sales and trading. These professionals are responsible for selling the financial products of the bank (stocks, bonds and derivatives). They also serve as a crucial link between sellers (corporations and governments) and buyers (investors). Though sales and trading are sometimes grouped together, […]

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Investment Banking Vice Presidents and Directors

May 6, 2009

Last time we looked at the career path within investment banks after the research analyst and associate stage. Top bankers rise through the ranks to vice president, director and eventually managing director level. What sort of skills are required to become or be hired as a vice president or director? A quick look at jobs […]

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