In 2015 Fortune reported that bagging a job at Goldman Sachs (GS) was a phenomenon rarer than receiving an acceptance letter from Harvard University. Harvard posted an acceptance rate of 5.3% for their applicants for the year 2015 while the global investment bank reported that roughly 3% of its applicants, or 9,700 out of 313,000, secured a position with them. I do not know if this is the best time to tell you this but the said 3% also included those who were accepted for their internship programs. Has this improved since then? In 2019 it was reported that the investment giant received about 1 million applications for midlevel jobs and only about 0.5% or 5,000 of those applicants were hired; this stat meant that in the same year nearly 10 times that amount [of applicants] got into Harvard University. Before we move on you might be wondering why there are so many applicants out there for Goldman Sachs. Many reasons abound but one which makes sense is the pay packages Goldman Sachs awards its people; in 2022, Solomon, the CEO of Goldman Sachs was given a $35 million pay package. So for a 300-word cover letter that is about 8.5 words per $1 million.
I have not written the above to fill you with despair but to paint the need why you must make sure that every single component of your application to Goldman Sachs should be excellent, starting from your cover letter which we will be dealing with in this article. If you read on, we will first provide an excellent cover letter sample for a role at Goldman Sachs. After that, we will provide guidelines that you can use to create yours.
Cover letter example:
Mr Phillip Burton
Graduate Recruitment & Development Manager
Dear Mr Phillip Burton,
Further to your advertisement on https://www.goldmansachs.com/careers/students/programs/emea/new-analyst-programme.html, I would like to apply for the 2022 New Analyst role. I graduated with First Class Honors in my finance degree and finished with a Second Class Upper in my LLM. After my Master’s, I moved to Taiwan as a part of a UNICEF team that provided children with immunizations and access to safe water.
I have decided to write because I possess competencies which will avail me in my quest to become a good analyst at Goldman Sachs. The starting point for a good analyst must be the possession of a strong academic record – and this I possess. My academic excellence is reflected by my grades; during my degree, I attained eight first-class grades in all eight qualifying modules.
Secondly, as a result of my curiosity about the connection between financial markets and financial independence, I started learning how to trade as an investor. I gained an understanding of the factors that affect wealth building. My curiosity enabled me to develop strong financial modelling skills, and strategic and analytic thinking – essential traits that make me suitable for success at Goldman Sachs.
Consequently, I am applying to Goldman Sachs because my development as a great analyst is assured. This belief is inspired by the opportunities available at your firm. I refer particularly to the platform that will allow me to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to support the company, have access to the training and guidance that will help me progress in my career, and build a professional network.
While I may not be the perfect candidate, if given the platform to work at Goldman Sachs I will help craft the future of Goldman Sachs.
Below are some steps that will help you on your journey to create an excellent cover letter (motivational letter) to GS like the one above.
Step 1 Research
Before you even set your fingers on your keyboard or put pen to paper you must research and analyze Goldman Sachs (GS). In your research, you should adopt the aim to know everything there is to know about the company: culture, values, hierarchy, clients, the division you intend to work in, and the department or person that will receive your cover letter. Your research will help you with the words that you will use to woo GS in your letter. Your research will be more effective if before the research you can identify why you are interested in the position while identifying keywords or phrases in the job description provided by GS describing what they are looking for.
Step 2 Highlight Key Details in the Job Description that match your experience
Study and understand the description of the advertised role. When you go to the GS webpage, you will see the skills, requirements, duties and responsibilities expected of someone taking up a particular position. You must determine if you satisfy the abovementioned factors by comparing your credentials with the position. While doing this, I’ll advocate you make a list of mutual skills and the like that you share with GS; by doing this you’ll remember to signpost them in your cover letter. To accomplish this, draft a list of key accomplishments or experiences relevant to the role; identify transferable skills that make you a unique candidate, such as strong financial skills, communication skills, teamwork and interpersonal skills, ambition, strong work ethic, and strong intellect, and the like.
Step 3 Contact information
I believe it shows excellence when you incorporate the contact information of the hiring manager into your letter. Yes, you might not be writing a physical letter but the rules of a formal letter still apply. Identify the recruiter or hiring manager for the position. If it’s hard finding it, you can write to Goldman Sachs asking who you should address your letter to [if any] or search LinkedIn for a relevant business representative. Identify any contacts you have within the organization. Include the hiring manager’s first and last name, title, the name of the company (GS) and GS’ address. You may also add your contact information. This can be optional where you have previously provided your contact information elsewhere in the application.
Step 4 Address the Recruiter Formally
If you have found out the name of the recruiting manager address the person with a formal greeting. Use their title and name (you can use just their last name or full name). Use “Dear” as a greeting, and include a comma after the name (salutation). Whereupon your research did not throw up the name of the hiring manager, it’s acceptable to use “Dear Hiring Manager” instead.
Step 5 Start the body of your letter with a powerful introductory paragraph
Think about your letter to GS as a book, if you start reading a book and the first few pages are engaging – no matter the genre – you will want to keep reading on. Thus, irrespective of your degree (genre), you must deliver an introductory paragraph that is more substantial, effective, and engaging to the person(s) reading your letter; a letter that will satisfy their hungry brains. If you do this, you would have won an important battle – keeping the reader engrossed. Look at the example we provided above. In just a paragraph our fictitious candidate has excellently provided the recruiter with the following information: the role being applied for, how he found the role, his excellent academics, his work experience, and unique personality – courage, curiosity and bravery to help humanity. If you have attended GS events, this is the place to mention it. If you have met any of their representatives also mention it. At Congrapps we are big believers in the power of networking because it makes a big difference. Imagine that the recruiter reading your cover letter knows the colleague you met!
Step 6 State why you are interested in that position
You should dedicate a paragraph telling them why you are interested in the role you are applying for. This is known as part of the middle paragraph. To create an endearing paragraph you should be genuine in what drives you forward in your pursuit to be employed in that role. Use language that connects the dots between the job description and your background.
Step 7 Why GS
GS is unique and if you fail to show that you are in touch with their uniqueness through your cover letter, your application will most likely fail. You should use the information you got from your research to show them you are in the know of what their practice areas are, what makes them unique, their reputation, and so forth. Be specific about what is it about GS that is unique to you. Was it the people you met at the firm? Is it GS’s expertise and specialism in a specific area of the market? Find your reason and stress exactly why that means so much to you.
Step 8 Why You
This is where you make the case for why you’d be an exceptional hire. You do this by differentiating yourself from the rest by showcasing your experience & qualifications and how it will benefit GS. Though the word count for GS is just 300, I’ll advise that this step gets at least one paragraph as it’s one of the most important sections because you need to sell your skills or abilities that you feel make you the ideal candidate for the position. If you have experience in investment banking, private equity, venture capital, financial modelling, the legal field, forecasting, and risk management talk about it. Do share your story. Take the reader on your journey and let your personality come through on your cover letter.
Furthermore, when talking about your experiences and skills make sure that you include only the relevant ones. Relevant experiences automatically assure the recruiter that the applicant can reasonably be expected to perform the role. But what if the position is a result of a career change and you don’t have the relevant experiences? In that case, what you should do is use the experiences you do have to highlight relevant transferable skills. This step can also come before Step 7 if you so desire.
Step 9 Summarize and Conclude
In a compelling conclusion, the use of action words telling the recruiter what you want, when you are available and that you are looking forward to hearing from them should be present. Remember to sign off your letter as you would do in a formal letter.
Step 10 Keep to the Word Count
Keep your letter succinct. Your cover letter should not exceed the word count that GS has asked for. The word count also includes their address. This is important as they’ll likely have hundreds to read through. Do be strict with your use of sentences. You have just 300 words to use in your cover letter to sell yourself to GS. Thus, every point must have a purpose i.e. identifies a skill learnt positive outcome, etc. At the end of each sentence ask yourself what I have written is it conveying an important point or can it be deleted from this letter.
Step 11 Proofread & Review
After you finish writing, proofread your letter and ask someone to read it also. Make as many corrections as needed.
Other Tips to Bear in Mind
- At every single opportunity you get speak GS’s language: Every firm has a purpose, mission statement, key principles and beliefs they abide by, and GS is no different. Find these on their website and pay particular attention to the language used. If your cover letter speaks GS’s language, the recruiter is more likely to believe that you’ll be a good fit for GS’s culture.
- Show your personality: Include personal details in your cover letter to make a distinct first impression on the recruiter. If you share core values with GS, consider highlighting this [perhaps through step 8].
- Only share public information: While it’s important to provide personal details about your experience as advocated above you should be careful not to share details that include proprietary details from your previous companies. This protects you from the unnecessary investigation. Who knows your recruiter may know someone at your previous workplace – stranger things have happened. It also shows the hiring manager you have good judgment skills.
- Your CV and cover letter are two different documents, as such the content should be different: while your cover letter needs to align with your CV, your cover letter should be the platform you use to highlight the strongest points of your experience to supplement your CV and entice the recruiter to learn more about you through the next stage.
- Good Formatting: Be mindful of your formatting. Please endeavour to apply a consistent font type and size throughout your cover letter.
Charles is a writer, practising lawyer and personal trainer who loves learning and developing himself. He graduated from Middlesex University, London with eight first-class grades in the second and third years of his law degree, and received a postgraduate offer from Cambridge University. He loves strength training, boxing and encouraging people to succeed in their pursuits (legal ones)
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