Applying to BB. How important is the cover letter?

Westernmonkey's picture
Rank: Monkey | 35

Hi all,

Before I ask my question, let me fill you in with some info.

School of attendance: a university in the west coast; target for Bain, not for BCG.
Major: Business Econ
Minor: Accounting
GPA: 3.85 overall 3.96 for Econ courses
Activities: Intern at Merrill Lynch Private Banking
Voluntary Income Tax Assistant
Case competition experience
Past Student Senator

I am applying for a summer internship at Bain and BCG.

Now, here is my question. The deadline is this Sunday, and I have a feeling my cover letter is not going to be so pretty ( I know it is my fault to put it off until the last minute). With the information given above, do you think I can get an interview with not so great cover letters?

Bonus question: Assuming I interview with the firms, if I do a mediocre job, how does that affect my chances when I recruit for FT?

Comments (24)

Jan 8, 2011

i'm guessing you go to ucla. no. it doens't really matter.

Jan 8, 2011

"target for Bain, not for BCG."

Huh?

Jan 8, 2011

Back when I was a senior applying to jobs, I actually had " [This page intentionally left blank] " for a cover letter (I just put that, in the middle of the page, like how they do on prospectuses and what not. Absolutely nothing else on the page.)

I did get interviews/offers from places I sent that to, my hit rate as far as getting interviews was basically identical to places that did not require a cover letter (Every place that requested a cover letter, that was what I sent).

This works because of the entry level nature of the job, and the fact they know you apply to a ton of stuff, I wouldn't do it for a more senior position (but they don't really ask for cover letters because you've outgrown that BS by then).

Jan 8, 2011

If you're getting your resume passed through by a contact at the firm, your cover letter doesn't matter (unless that person asks to see it). If you're going through the general recruiting pool, it matters, but it's not as important as your resume. That said, you have a day before the application is due. Your cover letter shouldn't take that long to write; if you're crunched for time, just download the template off of Mergers & Inquisitions and use that.

And no, if you fumble your summer interviews it won't be held against you for full-time.

Jan 8, 2011

Just do something very generic - no one really reads these things - just a chance to mess up if you say too much

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Jan 8, 2011

I wrote a two line cover letter once that included a four letter word and got an interview because the guy thought the letter was funny

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Jan 8, 2011

I have a generic letter that has the name of the company and the position blanked out and I just fill this out for each company I apply to lol

Jan 8, 2011

Awesome Thanks for your inputs. I feel better now haha

Jan 9, 2011

I've talked about how great Y bank was in my application to X bank and gotten an interview. Mighta been a fluke, but methinks they don't pay a ton of attention to it. Format it nicely.

Jan 10, 2011

i read it about 30% of the time, but almost never pay attention to them

Jan 10, 2011

I doubt it. None the less, it should still be perfected. If you are debating not including one, that would be the same thing as making grammatical errors on the actual resume....doesn't really look good.

Hope that helps...

"I'm short your house"

Jan 10, 2011

A good one wont get you hired, a bad one will get you fired.

Jan 10, 2011

In most cases, it's only an excuse to ding you.

However, depending on how you format your cover letter, it is possible to make certain points stand out. Take a look at what Marcus says about cover letters.

http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/ug-recruitin...

Jan 10, 2011

I had quite a bit of success applying online and ALWAYS attached a cover letter. As already mentioned, a perfect CL likely won't improve your chances but a bad one will kill them. IMO, it shows a level of interest in the firm and its not like they were the 100th resume you've spammed online.

Jan 10, 2011

Always include a cover letter. Even if the firm doesn't require it, it is simply courtesy and shows commitment. Cover letters don't get read but they get skimmed. The most important trick for anyone to know is to make sure you name-drop on your cover letters. It simply grabs attention and can really elevate someone who is committed / determined among a pile of faceless candidates.

For example, if you have networked / done informationals with two VPs and a MD at a certain bank, make sure you mention their names in your cover letter. Literally write, "During my conversations with Frank Whitmore, Hank Rose and Bradford Peters, I got to better understand the culture of Goldstein Brothers." That way, anyone filtering your resume can instantly tell that 1.) you have devoted the time to get to know the bank and 2.) you have an existing connection. In a pile of 20 cover letters, this can make you stand out and get thrown into the interview list instantly...

DO: Name-drop the people at the firm whom you have networked with / done informational interviews here.

DON'T: Make any silly mistakes (ranging from copy & pasting the wrong firm name to making a spelling error)

    • 1
Jan 10, 2011
Vancouver Canucks 2011:

Always include a cover letter. Even if the firm doesn't require it, it is simply courtesy and shows commitment. Cover letters don't get read but they get skimmed. The most important trick for anyone to know is to make sure you name-drop on your cover letters. It simply grabs attention and can really elevate someone who is committed / determined among a pile of faceless candidates.

For example, if you have networked / done informationals with two VPs and a MD at a certain bank, make sure you mention their names in your cover letter. Literally write, "During my conversations with Frank Whitmore, Hank Rose and Bradford Peters, I got to better understand the culture of Goldstein Brothers." That way, anyone filtering your resume can instantly tell that 1.) you have devoted the time to get to know the bank and 2.) you have an existing connection. In a pile of 20 cover letters, this can make you stand out and get thrown into the interview list instantly...

DO: Name-drop the people at the firm whom you have networked with / done informational interviews here.

DON'T: Make any silly mistakes (ranging from copy & pasting the wrong firm name to making a spelling error)

Great Post!!
A question:
When they saw the names mentioned in the letter, do they really contact that person for further information? ..... What if the MD VP said, "well, i don't remember I've talked to this kid..." I talked to some insiders in the information activities and sent some quick follow-up emails, but I'm afraid they don't remember who I am..

Jan 10, 2011

Nobody spends more than 2 seconds reading a cover letter.

Jan 10, 2011
glasslamp:

Nobody spends more than 2 seconds reading a cover letter.

how the fuck would you know if nobody spends more than 2 seconds reading a cover letter?
clueless highschooler pissing his "knowledge"
please, gtfo

OP: Vancouver wrote it best. Just approach this logically. What do you have to lose by writing a cover letter? 5 min, 10 min top of your time? If you don't want to invest that much time for a potential job, then you must not want it badly enough.

Jan 10, 2011

Vector i would know because I am on an alumni team which screens resumes. I read through the letters the first year I screened and haven't done so again since. Don't worry, you didn't attend my alma mater so you weren't subject to my neglect.

You should certainly submit a cover letter if it is requested, but don't spend much time on it. No glaring typos and get the name of the firm right.

Jan 10, 2011
glasslamp:

Vector i would know because I am on an alumni team which screens resumes. I read through the letters the first year I screened and haven't done so again since. Don't worry, you didn't attend my alma mater so you weren't subject to my neglect.

You should certainly submit a cover letter if it is requested, but don't spend much time on it. No glaring typos and get the name of the firm right.

ok so...because you are too lazy to go through them, it must hold true that "nobody spends more than 2 seconds on cover letters." Am I right?

Jan 10, 2011
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Jan 10, 2011
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