Your Cover Letter Sets You Apart from the Pack

By Brian Tung, Class of 2017 Career Advisor

By Brian Tung, Class of 2017 Career Advisor

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!

Spring Job Search: The Best Might Just Come Last

Cathy Hsu '16, Career Advisor

Cathy Hsu '16, Career Advisor

From the mountains of Kilimanjaro, to the Dead Sea, Boothies have been all over the world this past spring break! For those who already nailed down full-time positions and summer internships — congratulations!  Make sure you join different groups to explore all the interesting, non-recruiting related events that the Booth community has to offer. For those who are still searching, I’d like to share a few tips with you from my own experience as a spring recruit. 

Narrow your target. 

While you still have a good chunk of time for recruiting, 10 weeks can go by quickly. Therefore, you should have clear preferences for roles and locations so that you can spend your time focused on a short list of ideal firms. While a great tool, resist the urge to rely solely on GTS. Instead, utilize external job boards and company websites to check if full-time/ internship positions recently posted. Don’t worry if your qualifications don’t fit the description entirely. The most important thing for you is to have an understanding about the company, and know why you want to work there and your goals. 

Be specific in email communications.

When proactively approaching your contacts in the company, make sure your email contains the following 3 main points: who you are, what you want, and why an interest in the company. For small start-ups, a unique answer for “why this company” is a must-have. Also, be concise. No one has time to read a lengthy email from an MBA student, so optimize your email for the reader so that they can identify your intentions within the first few sentences. It not only saves them time reading, but also saves you time waiting for a response —they can quickly give you a yes or no response.

No worries.

No worries.

Get peer support.

Find friends who share the same agenda as you. Joining a job search crew is a great idea, but creating your own group can also work. Share information and ideas, hold each other accountable, and practice with your peers to improve your interview skills.

Keep an eye on the Career Services Blog.

Unique opportunities show up on the CS blog all the time. Make sure you subscribe and set up an RSS feed to keep abreast of new and time-sensitive opportunities that may be appealing.

I hope these tips help you during your specialized search. Success is closer than you might think. Enjoy your spring quarter!

 

Cathy Hsu, a second-year Entrepreneurship Career Advisor, bought two nice business suits before Booth thinking she’d wear them every day. She recently realized she probably wore them less than ten times over the past two years. #moneywasted