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Goldman Sachs International

Cover letters and examples of leadership: Goldman Sachs' application form explained

Just because you weren’t an official ‘leader’ doesn’t mean you have no leadership experience.

This section covers the written segments of the Goldman Sachs graduate and internship application processes.

Goldman Sachs: Cover/motivation letter

The predominant writing requirement for Goldman Sachs’ graduate and internship schemes is a cover/motivation letter. This is built into the online application form, so you won’t need to send this in as an additional piece of documentation.

Space allowed for letter: Maximum 300 words

How to approach: The major tips for any covering letter still apply – this needs to be specific to Goldman Sachs and to the division/s to which you are applying (Goldman Sachs specifically state here that, should you be applying for more than one division, you need to detail your reasons for applying to each).

To make sure your reasoning is persuasive, you need to go back to newspapers, trade magazines (online or otherwise) and RSS feeds from Goldman Sachs website. Employers such as Goldman Sachs want you to demonstrate that you can actually research a specific topic – as a new analyst at the firm you’ll find yourself given research tasks quite frequently, so your cover letter should be treated as a form of research test.

Link Goldman Sachs projects to your own interest – for example, if you’re interested in sustainable energy projects then you could reference Goldman Sachs’ pledge to divest $40bn of its own money into these endeavours over the next ten years. However, you need to keep things relevant to the particular job role you’re applying for; there’s no point in highlighting the firm’s return to the Japanese property market, for example, if your potential job has nothing to do with property or Japanese markets. Relate your examples to the division you wish to work in; how might the division get involved in the particular project you’ve referenced? Are you aware that each department may take on different tasks within the same deal? If not, then you need to go back and research what each department does in more detail.

You won’t need to structure it like a typical covering letter – there’s no need for the ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ or ‘Yours faithfully/sincerely’ niceties of a normal letter, just dive straight in and get to the point. 300 words isn’t very much, so there’s none you can afford to waste.

Goldman Sachs: Examples of leadership

A separate part of the Goldman Sachs online application form requires you to detail what leadership experience you have.

Space allowed: Maximum 100 words per example

How to approach: You could use bullet points here, but bear in mind you’ll also be including a one-page CV as part of your application, so don’t waste space repeating yourself. Every comment you make needs to add something new to your overall application.

The hardest task you’ll have is convincing yourself that your examples are good enough. Countless applicants sell themselves short because they have never been in an official ‘leadership’ role. However, you’re actually given a wide selection of leadership backgrounds to choose from, via a drop-down menu: athletics; charitable organisation; military; school newspaper or other publication; sorority or fraternity; student government/council/committee; association or club; other. Note that the form is Americanised (the reference to sororities and fraternities give it away), so don’t feel like you have to cover every single one of these.

Take the example of a school newspaper (noting that, given the American nature of the form, ‘school’ probably really refers to ‘university’ for the UK market). You don’t have to have been the editor of your student newspaper to have demonstrated leadership; maybe you took the lead on certain pieces of work or delegated certain tasks to colleagues. Your title may not have been ‘editor’, or something similar, but you’ll have done a number of leadership tasks. Understanding this makes the difference between a decent applicant and one who actually gets hired by Goldman Sachs.

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