Congratulations. You’ve made the decision to leave Investment Banking. You have done the hard yards and you’re ready to take that next step in your career. You have worked out exactly what you want to do and the type of organization you want to work at…there is only the pesky problem of actually getting that next dream job.
That shouldn’t be a problem right? After all you survived Investment Banking and organizations should be begging to hire you right? Unfortunately it doesn’t quite work that way. You will still have to actually apply for a job and land the job and often you will be facing an intense amount of competition if (like most Investment Bankers) you’ve set your sites incredibly high.
There are some things in your favour though:
- You DO have great experiences
- You’ve DEMONSTRATED an ability to apply yourself and work incredibly hard
- Investment Banks only hire top undergraduates so there is already a SOCIAL PROOF that you are person worth of being considered.
But how do you convey this information? Well once again you have two tools at your disposal: Your resume (or CV) and your cover letter.
This post will guide you through the process of writing a cover letter when you are looking to exit Investment Banking.
The Cover Letter is still the primary way you convey who you are
When you have experience under your belt it’s easy to forget how important cover letters actually are. After all you have your experience to talk for you!
However Cover Letters when you are looking for your post Investment Banking job are as important if not more important than when you actually applied to Investment Banking.
Your Cover Letter is used not only to sell you as a person who has the skills to do the job that you are applying for but is also your only opportunity to explain to the company you are applying to why their organization and industry is something that you are looking to get into.
Hiring people with the right motivations and right agendas are so important to companies. They want to know that you are looking to join their business for the right reasons. Just as Investment Banks are looking to make sure that you aren’t joining them for the money your post Investment Banking job wants to make sure that you are joining them for the right reasons.
What should you include in your Cover Letter?
Your Cover Letter is as individual as you are. Your work experiences and motivations are individual and so should your cover letter.
Having said that your Cover Letter still should include the following:
- A brief description of your current job position and role
- Why you would be of value to their organisation (what skills do you possess)
- Why do you want to work in the industry you are applying for
- Why do you want to work for the organisation you are applying for
- A one line description of your academic background
Describing your job position and role
This doesn’t need to be overly long. You need to state:
- The organisation you work for;
- Your current role (Analyst, Associate etc.)
- How long you have been in that role (e.g. ‘a third year Analyst’)
- The team you work for (e.g. ‘Industrials team’)
- Any focus you had within that team (e.g. ‘focussed on the transport sector’)
Obviously this shouldn’t be a bullet list but it is an easy paragraph to create.
Describe the skills you have that would be of value to the organisation
Obviously this is very individual but the fact is, if you have been an Investment Banking analyst you are probably pretty strong in the following areas:
- Quantitative and analytical skills
- Ability to prioritise and manage time
- Modelling skills including the ability to build DCFs, LBOs etc
- Ability to manage up and down
- Attention to detail
- An ability to work hard (don’t spend too much time on this…organisations know it)
Obviously the skills you emphasise will depend on the type of job and industry you are applying for. If you are applying for a Private Equity job you’re probably going to want to mention a bit of everything but focussing on deal execution skills would not go awry. If you want to get into Equities Research however, focussing on the fact that you know how to interact with management and know how to model and analyse companies should definitely be your focus. Again it comes down to the company you are applying for.
Why do you want to work in the industry you are applying for?
Remember when you were applying for your Analyst position or for your internship it was pretty helpful if you demonstrated an interest in finance early? Well the same thing applies here. You need to demonstrate that you are interested in working in the particular industry you are applying for.
Interested in Funds Management – do you invest and how long have you been doing it for? Interested in Venture Capital – are you interested in technology and how can you prove it? You want to have concrete examples which you can lay out in your cover letter.
Why do you want to work for THIS organisation?
The fact is most Investment Banks are pretty similar. They may focus on different teams and different areas but when you are an undergraduate applying for investment banking roles you’ll really take what you are given. It is different when you are leaving Investment Banking. You have a real choice so describing why you want to apply for a certain organisation is incredibly important.
While you can obviously come up with something for your resume it is important that you understand why you are applying for this company yourself. What is it about that company that wants to make you want to work there?
Include the briefest description of your academic background
If you’re looking to leave Investment Banking I’m assuming you went to a pretty good school and got some decent grades. It will never do you any harm to include these in your cover letter. You can leave it out if space is an issue but it can’t do any harm (especially given the fact that you’re competing against a much less homogeneous group compared to when you were looking to get into banking).
Formatting is still important…but I don’t need to tell you that
If you’re leaving Investment Banking you’re probably already a formatting and details fiend so I probably don’t need to remind you of this…but just in case make sure you do the following:
- Keep it to one page
- No spelling or formatting errors
- Make it in letter format
- Unless you are sending it to a specific person (as opposed to an organisation) don’t address it to someone you met…many people are likely to read it and it’s just strange if it is addressed to one person
If you have any questions on writing an Investment Banking Cover Letter post them below.