Baillie Gifford & Co

What you should include in your graduate Baillie Gifford covering letter

A prime example of a poor covering letter is one that’s light on detail, according to Richard.

If you’re applying for a graduate position at Baillie Gifford (with the exception of the business operations programme), you must submit a covering letter and CV along with your online application form to be considered for the job.

The covering letter is your only opportunity to present your experience and reasons for choosing the firm because the application form just requests personal details, work history and qualifications.

TARGETjobs Finance spoke with Richard Barry, formerly Baillie Gifford’s HR manager, to find out what you should include in your covering letter to ensure it stands out from the crowd.

How to structure your covering letter

  1. Make it personal. Address your covering letter to a member of Baillie Gifford’s HR team.
  2. It’s not essential that you include your address because it’ll be on your application form.
  3. State which scheme you’re applying for – the firm runs four graduate programmes – and explain why you’re interested in it.
  4. Tell the recruiter why you have picked Baillie Gifford. Give real reasons – skip the buzzwords and cliches.
  5. Convince the recruiter that you’re the best candidate for the job by matching your credentials with those on the job advert and explaining how you can add value to the firm.
  6. Be concise and try not to exceed one side of A4.

Ensure your covering letter is detailed

‘A prime example of a poor covering letter is one that’s light on detail,’ Richard told us. Baillie Gifford recruiters have received several in the past that have included a sentence or two along the lines of, ‘I saw your programme and I wanted to apply because it sounded interesting.’ Richard advised: ‘Take the time to consider the job you’re applying for and why you want it.’ Doing this should give you lots to talk about.

Say why have you have decided to apply to Baillie Gifford

‘Some past applications haven’t included a single good reason in their covering letters about why they are pursuing a career in investment management and applying to Baillie Gifford specifically,’ said Richard. Good reasons are those that specify an aspect of the industry, business or graduate programme that corresponds with your interests or career aspirations.

Richard said: ‘Perhaps you’re curious about the world and want a job that allows you to explore the world further. Or maybe you’re interested in investing in companies and want a job where you’ll have the authority to take action, not just to advise or try to persuade people to buy into your decision.’

Discuss experiences outside your university degree course

Baillie Gifford is looking for graduates with a strong academic record – the minimum degree requirement for a graduate role at the investment management firm is a 2.1. But, although grades are important, Richard said the business also looks for graduates who have gained experience in and developed through other pursuits, such as volunteering, part-time jobs, work experience or extracurricular activities.

Include information that YOU think is relevant

Richard said: ‘There isn’t a set of specific details that your covering letter should have – Baillie Gifford wants you to include information that you believe is relevant.’ You can discuss anything (apart from the salary and perks – that’d be tasteless) as long as it relates to the position you’re applying for.

Skills, internships, part-time jobs, extracurricular activities, the business (values, culture, size and strategy), the industry and the graduate programme (training and development, responsibilities, and opportunities for career progression) are areas you should draw your information and examples from.

You might, for instance, choose to opine on potential market changes, such as the possibility of Google and Facebook entering the investment management space, and the implications for Baillie Gifford. Remember, though, that you’ll have to tie whatever you say in with why you’re applying and why you’re the best person for the job.

Demonstrate creative thinking

With words and phrases like regulation, operational risk, distribution models and markets often being associated with investment management, it’s expected you may think roles within the industry require hardly any creativity. Wrong! Richard said: ‘New ways of thinking are necessary at Baillie Gifford because the firm doesn’t seek to expand through mergers and acquisitions.’

You can demonstrate your ability to think creatively by including an example in your covering letter of an occasion when you did. Perhaps during a part-time retail or bar job you thought of a new promotional offer to drive sales. Ensure you include the result if you decide to go with an example like this one.

Ask someone to proofread your covering letter

Richard advised: ‘Ask your meanest critic to proofread your covering letter for mistakes before you submit.’ The odd spelling, grammatical and punctuation error is forgivable, but too many mistakes will imply that you haven’t put enough effort into your application.

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