CV and application form (sometimes cover letter as well) are vital when you are applying a job or an internship. Here, our strategic partners Grad Diary and eFinancial Careers offer insiders’ advice.
What font style and size should I use on my CV?

Should my CV be one page or two pages?

Should I use bullet points on my CV?

What is classed as relevant work experience?

To read more, please visit Grad Diary CV Advice Series 2014

No shortcuts
“We often come across applications with answers that have been cut and pasted, and candidates sometimes even forget to change the name of the bank they have applied to, which doesn’t reflect well,” says Natalia Garland, head of global graduate marketing and infrastructure at BNP Paribas.

Use of space
Fill it. Try to use up the word count allowed for each answer – answers that are too short can make it look like you haven’t really taken great care or time over the application. But of course, it also depends on what you put in the space.

“Be sensible,” advises Linda Jackson, MD of consultants Fairplace. “Do not devote more space to your victory on the pitch than to your summer working for a big bank, because it will send the wrong message about your priorities.”

Questions to expect
There will probably be a question on your motivation(s) for breaking into the industry, and for applying to a particular division or bank, along with questions on your industry knowledge. Then there are the inescapable ‘competency’ questions, for which you should use the S.T.A.R. formula to frame your answers (see separate article).

Cover letters
Their purpose
“People underestimate the importance of a cover letter,” says Sarah Harper, head of recruiting, EMEA and India at Goldman Sachs. “It is a useful mechanism to show your enthusiasm for the firm and the particular job you are applying for. It can really make a difference.”

Top and tail
Cover letters are still rather formal affairs, so never address it to the person’s first name. If you know the surname of the person you are writing to, write Dear Mr/ Ms X; then sign off with Yours sincerely; if you don’t know the surname of the person you are writing to, write Dear Sir/ Madam, and sign off Yours faithfully.

This means making sure you get the name of the person and company you’re writing to, address, job role and reference spot on, for a start. Then pull something from the job ad or job spec to show you know what they’re looking for, and tell them how you match it.

A word of thanks
Don’t forget to thank them at the end for considering your application.

Not forgetting email
Email etiquette — It’s best to treat this as an online cover letter, so keep it formal and no SMS speak.

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