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    Hey guys, I've recently been successful in obtaining a highly competitive grad job and given many of my friends seem to come to me for advice I wanted to perhaps write up all my experiences about this! I'd love your feedback on the following to see if i'm on the right track.

    There’s a certain way to write a cover letter, and it’s not what you might think! The advice I’m about to share with you will be time consuming to implement, but this is what determines which applicants are successful. Thus, the more competitive the job role you’re applying for is, the more you’ll need to do this. Pick up a career guide and you’ll find that the suggested format for a cover letter, is as follows.

    - Introduce yourself, the role you’re applying for and how you found the company.
    - Explain why you chose the company in particular
    - Explain why you’d be great for this role
    - Sign off cheerily!

    Except doing that alone got me nothing. I did this for 2 years and got next to no internships within London itself, (Though to be fair I did score ONE interview out of 30 odd applications). Mind you this was good advice! But competing with 25,000 applicants means "good" sometimes isn't good enough. My cover letter was missing something crucial, and I wouldn’t find out until I had to recruit people for a society myself. I’d read all sorts of wonders by then, most of them along the lines of

    “I believe I’m a very hard worker” – Yeah, so does everyone else until they’re actually given hard work.

    or

    “I am very keen to work in the society” – No doubt, you’re very keen to build your CV.

    The more I read the more frustrated I became. The job description clearly said “must have the ability to balance society work alongside other commitments and willingness to work hard”. What we wanted were people who wouldn’t let us down the minute they were faced with another deadline, but it seems as though everyone forgot that part.

    And then it hit me. The best person to write a cover letter, would be someone who had actually done the job. Understanding the challenges and tasks of a job would mean that person would be able to connect their skills with these REAL requirements and subsequently land the job. The difference between a successful cover letter and one that doesn’t make the cut, lies in the research.

    Aim to understand the job you’re applying for as well as someone who’s already working there.

    There are a number of ways to do this, as one example read between the lines of the job description. You’ll find the usual laundry list of required competencies. You know! “Team player”, “Ability to meet deadlines”,etc. Amongst these try and see if there’s anything unique e.g. firms may give a list of bullet points, but that X factor they want from you is elsewhere in the job description (e.g. mentioned separately in a paragraphs)

    Or better yet ask people in the industry a few questions. When you go to careers fairs, go there armed with questions.You might ask them what they do on a day to day basis, what challenges they faced or better yet what they did in their first year. (You’ll notice these are all interview questions too, so doing this prepares you for the subsequent stages of job hunting as well) As an example if they say, “Oh it takes a lot of endurance”dig deeper… you might ask “ The hours must be long right?” and depending on the answer you’ve suddenly found out that this hidden X factor was the ability to work long hours.

    In the end that’ll make the difference between “My degree in Business will greatly benefit my learning at the firm” Versus “Having completed a module in law as part of a Business degree, I would adapt well to the firm as I wold be better placed to understand the law modules of the ACA qualification I will be studying for”.If you’ve got three statements like the above, that make the recruiter place your cover letter above the rest. Once I started doing this, every firm I had applied for wanted to interview me. It felt really strange going from being rejected 80% of the time to such success but it happened! Granted this wasn’t the ONLY factor I changed, but there’s a lot more which I’ll cover another time. If you’d like me to!
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    A Cover Letter will not make the difference when it comes to the job that 25 thousand people have applied for. As a matter of fact, grad roles of that magnitude, i.e. Big 4, Consulting firms, Banking etc. will not even require a cover letter and even if you upload one there is no chance it is going to be read. In less competitive jobs, a CL might be briefly skimmed only if the CV has been successfully screened and it will just be there to complement it. Even the best written CL does not compensate for an inadequate CV.
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    Honestly, I'd rather have less money and have a less prestigious job than go through all this bullshıt.
    I mean, trying to stand out among tens of thousands of people? Why bother?
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    The irony is that a lot of the grad programmes might get thousands of applications, but they usually have 10s, 100s and sometimes even over 1000 vacancies, so applications per place could probably be lower than the ad-hoc vacancies that get a much wider group of people apply to them.


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    (Original post by KTS89)
    A Cover Letter will not make the difference when it comes to the job that 25 thousand people have applied for. As a matter of fact, grad roles of that magnitude, i.e. Big 4, Consulting firms, Banking etc. will not even require a cover letter and even if you upload one there is no chance it is going to be read. In less competitive jobs, a CL might be briefly skimmed only if the CV has been successfully screened and it will just be there to complement it. Even the best written CL does not compensate for an inadequate CV.
    It did. I'm speaking with experience! Just because you don't have to do something it doesn't mean you shouldn't! I think out of those 25 thousand there were an original 30 thousand who started applications and did not finish them. The effort required already eliminates a fair number of people.They might skim your letter, or bin it even. But it speaks volumes about you if you don't bother with one. About CVs though. No arguments there, your CV must make the cut or you don't get selected no matter how good the cover letter
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    (Original post by Ash--)
    It did. I'm speaking with experience! Just because you don't have to do something it doesn't mean you shouldn't! I think out of those 25 thousand there were an original 30 thousand who started applications and did not finish them. The effort required already eliminates a fair number of people.They might skim your letter, or bin it even. But it speaks volumes about you if you don't bother with one. About CVs though. No arguments there, your CV must make the cut or you don't get selected no matter how good the cover letter
    Yes, I agree that if your application includes a CL it is presented as more professional, even if someone does not even bother opening the file.
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    I like the example you used in the final paragraph, really relevant to me. My degree is in Business and I'm now trying to secure a grad job to work and study towards the ACCA.

    Great post, thanks.
 
 
 
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