Networking like a pro is well underway and it’s time to start thinking about those stories you will be telling in interviews. One of the best places to start thinking about what sets you apart from the pack is your cover letter.
Over this autumn quarter, I’ve met so many talented first-years with impressive and unique backgrounds: from submarine officers and Teach for America administrators, to past consultants, bankers, and analysts. When thinking about cover letters (and interview stories in general), the biggest piece of advice I’ve given to all of them is to embrace your past.
To those with non-traditional backgrounds worried that a firm won’t be interested because you don’t have business experience, think hard about how your experiences in the past involved analysis and critical thinking (I promise you, they’re there!) and then highlight those attributes while still displaying the wonderful uniqueness of your background.
For those with traditional business backgrounds who are nervous you won’t be unique enough, embrace the fact that you’ve seen the way businesses face and address their challenges and how you’ve contributed to those strategic decisions. Everyone in the Booth community has a tremendous background that can be tailored and articulated in a way that is both impressive and practical.
Here are a few additional tips as you think about your stories:
1. A cover letter is a complement to your resume. This means that you don’t need to rehash everything you’ve ever done in your career. That’s already in your resume! Pick a story or two that you think effectively demonstrates everything you try to convey in your resume (analysis, leadership, critical thinking, teamwork) and try to tell it in a succinct manner. The SOAR method works well as a framework for cover letters (not just for interviews)!
2. Don’t be generic with your cover letters. It’s incredibly easy to tell when someone wrote a cover letter designed to say “Dear [Firm], I am interested in [role].” Some of the best parts about being at Booth are the tremendous opportunities that are in front of us career-wise. You should be excited about whichever job you’re applying for, so tell them why! Do your research about the firm, industry, and role, and then articulate why you are the perfect fit for it.
3. Remember that we have tremendous resources at Booth to help you succeed. If you have any questions or are having trouble telling your story, Career Coaches, Career Advisors, and your peers are all here for you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to anyone you think can help you.
The last word of encouragement I have for anyone worried about telling their story in an effective manner is this: Admissions is very good at what they do, and you’re here for a reason. Keep that in mind and go win that dream job!
Brian is happy to review cover letters in exchange for a frosty beverage (or a simple GTS appointment registration) at any time!