5 Steps to an Incredible Cover Letter

How to Write a Cover Letter for a Banking Job

Two Parts:

If you are seeking a job in the banking industry, a cover letter will typically be an essential component of your application process. Human resources departments usually skim through large volumes of applications for banking positions, so you need to maximize every word of a short document to make your cover letter stand out. By knowing everything you can about the position, the company, and how precisely you would benefit both, and by using familiar structures to craft a uniquely-tailored letter, you will increase the odds of you application catching the right person’s eye.


Preparing Your Letter

  1. Research the company and position.Whether you’re looking to become a loan officer at your local branch or an investment banker at a national firm, you should expect stiff competition for the job. A generic, cookie-cutter cover letter is unlikely to make the cut. The more information you have, and the more specific you can be, the better.
    • Study the company’s website closely. Look for anything that makes it distinctive in relation to its peers, or how it presents itself as being different.
    • Use a mission statement, for example, as a guide for how to present yourself. How do you “answer” it with your experience and skills?
    • Gather all the details you can about the nature of the position itself. Read the advertisement carefully. Reach out to the contact person on the job ad for more information. Think about how the specifics of this job meet the specific qualities you offer.
  2. Ask yourself the key questions.As the person in charge of reading through applications scans over your cover letter, he or she needs to see an immediate, clear explanation of why you are the right one for the job. Your letter essentially has to answer several key questions, including:
    • “Who am I?” and “What have I done?”
    • “Why do I want this (specific) job?”
    • “Why should you want me for this (specific) job?”
    • “What do I have (attributes, skills, experiences, etc.) that you need?”
    • Space and word counts are at a premium in a cover letter, so make sure every part of it is addressing one of the key questions.
  3. Know what you’re facing.Some studies indicate that the average cover letter is looked over for only about fifteen seconds. Therefore, you need to make an immediate, positive impression with both the look and content of your letter to stand a chance of avoiding the reject pile.
    • Some job postings may list word or page limits for cover letters. You can also ask the contact person if there are any. Otherwise, cover letters should tend toward the shorter side of the following limits: 1-2 pages, 300-750 words, 3-5 paragraphs.
    • A single-page cover letter is usually ideal, but not if it is cramped and difficult to read or even scan over. You need to place things where they are typically located, and at the same time make your key points easily accessible. Make sure you get the maximum out of your fifteen seconds.
    • A cover letter is your opportunity to “personalize” your resume. They should complement each other to present a quick yet thorough portrait of you as a strong job candidate.
  4. Focus on one key factor.It is tempting to try to stuff your cover letter with every positive achievement and quality you can think of about yourself. However, it is best to create a focal point — one primary factor (skill, experience, quality, etc.) that answers the key questions and makes you a necessary contender for the position.
    • Mention several reasons why you are suited for the job, but hone in on one as the main reason to consider you. It may be your academic achievements in rigorous and relevant coursework; your prior successful experience in the industry; a successful internship with a glowing recommendation; or your experiences / skills in another field that have prepared you for the rigors of this position (for instance, problem-solving and quick decision-making in the military).
    • You want the person reading your letter to think “This person would meet our need for this position because she (has the most relevant and successful field experience, or whatever it may be in your case).”

Crafting Your Letter

  1. Consult but don’t rely on templates.A simple search for “how to write a cover letter for a banking job” will produce not only this article, but countless websites offering free (or “free”) cover letter templates, or just plain copy-and-paste letters. In a competitive field like banking and the tight current job market, however, there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all cover letter.
    • For example, you can easily find a solid template and sample cover letter for a loan officer position. You can observe its three paragraph format and use of bullet points in paragraph two to emphasize the most critical information.But this should provide only inspiration for a letter tailored to the precise job you are seeking.
    • If you are sending out several applications to different banks, you can use the same rough template and perhaps even the (generally) same introductory and concluding sections. But the heart of your letter, the central paragraph(s), should for the most part be specifically crafted with each particular position in mind.
  2. Use common cover letter formatting.If you only get fifteen seconds to make an impression with your cover letter, you may think that bold fonts or colors, distinctive formatting, or creative language or imagery might make your work stand out. Instead, it will probably speed its rejection.
    • With many letters to read and quick decisions to make, the people assessing applications want to be able to find what they need quickly and without distracting changes or errors. Nothing but the content of the text should occupy their attention.
    • For instance, while a distinctively blunt and self-effacing cover letter might possibly make the corporate email rounds and even prompt an interview out of curiosity,your best bet is to stick to tried-and-true stylistic elements and let your assertion of your qualifications stand out.
    • Along with the tips provided here, How to Write a Cover Letter to Human Resources provides a wealth of guidance on writing cover letters in general. Refer to it specifically for tips on cover letter formatting not explicitly discussed here.
  3. Make every paragraph count.With space constraints and a need to make an immediate impression, your cover letter cannot afford extraneous information. Every paragraph, every sentence, even every word should be there because it makes an impact.
    • The five paragraph format is a classic for short essays, and it can function well for cover letters as well. Consider the following paragraph layout if using it:
      • The first paragraph briefly introduces who you are and the position you seek.
      • Paragraph two is where you “sell” yourself as an ideal candidate by expressing exactly why you should be chosen.
      • Paragraph three is where you explain why you want to work for this company. A slight hint of flattery and a lot of research will go a long way.
      • Paragraph four explains why you want this specific job, and what precisely you will bring to it.
      • Paragraph five is your brief “call to action,” where you reiterate your “why” answers and provide a request to be contacted and your thanks.
    • For even more efficient space utilization, especially if you have a tight word limit for the letter, consider a three paragraph format instead:
      • Paragraph one is still your brief introduction, but with even greater emphasis on noting the scope of your skills or experience, and highlighting any contacts you may have within the company (such as the recruiter you met).
      • Paragraph two is now the singular heart of your letter, where you target in on one key reason (while mentioning a few others as support) why you can be the person who solves their problem / need. You want to compel them to look at your resume closely.
      • Paragraph three is still the “call to action.”
  4. Introduce yourself quickly but powerfully.It is essential that you let readers know who you are, what position you seek, and why in the first few lines of your letter. But you cannot afford to waste words or space that will be needed elsewhere.
    • You should aim for at most two to three sentences for your introduction; sticking to 35 total words, especially if you must stick with a one-page letter, will also leave ample space for the central paragraph(s).
    • “Greetings. My name is X, and I am applying for position Y” is brief but dull and unimaginative. Allow your introduction to introduce not only you, but the central components of your case for being hired: “Greetings. My name is X, and with my fifteen successful years of serving client needs both inside and outside the financial sector, I am ready to bring my knowledge and experience to position Y.”
  5. Skip empty and generic phrases.Everybody wants to let it be known that they are “motivated,” “determined,” “trustworthy,” and so on, and that is the problem. You want your letter to be just different enough from all the rest, in part by cultivating a greater sense of urgency and excitement.
    • Use active phrases that focus on results and outcomes. Make it clear that you have gotten things done in the past and will continue to do so in this new position.
    • For instance, consider the differing impact of the following two statements: “I’m a highly competent change management professional who has worked on a number of projects at major banks,” versus “I managed a team of eighteen technology and business analyst staff who successfully switched to a major new payments system six weeks ahead of time and 8% under budget.”
    • The more specific you can be in a limited number of words, the better.
  6. Emphasize visual appeal.Yes, substance is the key, but style means something as well when it comes to banking cover letters. As mentioned, you want a clean, uncluttered, easy to navigate look that is familiar to the eye of the reviewer.
    • Certain fields in academia, for instance, may frown upon the use of bullet points in cover letters, but in the banking field at least, they are a common way to draw the reader’s attention to the most essential information.
    • Your central paragraph could indeed be almost entirely bullet points, introduced by a brief sentence fragment that ends with a colon, so each bullet can start with an active verb. Examples might include “developing,” “utilizing,” and “adapting.”
    • For maximum impact, tie your bullet points to similar (but not identical) sections of your resume. They want to appear as complementary components of a single entity, without being differently-formatted copies.
  7. Eliminate all errors, confusion, and clutter.It is uncanny how a fresh set of eyes can be immediately drawn to typographic errors. This can be your ally, if you let other people read over your cover letter, or your enemy, if the person deciding your fate catches it.
    • No matter how many times you pore over the letter yourself — and you should look it over — always rely on a trusted person to read it over as well. Use someone knowledgeable in the banking field, if possible, so they can suggest industry-specific clarifications, additions, or excisions.
    • Always look for ways to cut words from your letter. A cover letter that references all the necessary information can never really be too short. The fewer words there are, the greater percentage will be scanned during the letter’s fifteen seconds or so of initial review.

Video: How To Write A Cover Letter (Example Included)

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Date: 01.12.2018, 05:29 / Views: 32483