How to write BNP Paribas Real Estate a persuasive graduate CV and covering letter
BNP Paribas Real Estate’s online application form basically involves you logging onto the system and uploading a CV and a covering letter (or you can just upload your CV and paste your covering letter into a plain text box). The form’s software then scans your CV and automatically fills in most of the other fields, such as education, for you. So far, so easy – except that it isn’t. Your CV and covering letter are your first opportunities to demonstrate that you can ‘express opinions clearly and persuasively under pressure’, a key ability BNP Paribas Real Estate wants in graduates. To do this:
1. Ensure your BNP Paribas Real Estate covering letter and CV have a logical structure
Your covering letter has to come across as focused – as a general rule of thumb, one sentence should convey one idea and one argument should be conveyed per paragraph. Follow the TARGETjobs Property's covering letter structure to ensure you keep to the point. Sticking to a clear structure will make it easier for the recruiters to follow your thoughts and therefore be persuaded by your reasoning.
Similarly, your CV should have clear headings that help the recruiters at the company identify the information they’re looking for: your contact information, details of your education, work experience and part-time job history, and your extracurricular activities, achievements and/or interests. You can use whichever headings best showcase your achievements but, as BNP Paribas Real Estate wants to see a ‘track record of personal achievement’, headings such as ‘Positions of responsibility’ or ‘Leadership roles’ might help your cause. Whichever headings you choose, make sure that they are formatted consistently – ie that the main headings are all the same size and font and are written with the same punctuation marks. See our annotated template graduate CV for more ideas on how to structure your CV.
2. Provide BNP Paribas Real Estate with evidence of your abilities and achievements
BNP Paribas Real Estate won’t be persuaded by unsupported, unsubstantiated claims in your covering letter. It’s not enough to write ‘I am able to take the initiative’, for instance – you need to provide an example of when you took the initiative, how you did so and what it helped you to achieve.
When writing about your skills and abilities, focus first on the skills and attributes BNP Paribas Real Estate actively seeks:
- initiative and proactivity (being a 'self-starter')
- lateral thinking
- the motivation to work as a surveyor.
Bear in mind, too, that BNP Paribas Real Estate values responsibility and innovation so show examples of these attributes too.
Next, write about other skills that would be useful for a surveyor at BNP Paribas Real Estate, which can be gleaned from its graduate recruitment brochure (downloadable from its TARGETjobs employer profile). The professionals in it emphasise:
- that they work with clients – graduates at BNP Paribas Real Estate will need to have good customer service skills, listening, communication and relationship-building skills
- that they might work on a number of deals or transactions at the same time – graduates will need good time management and organisational skills
- the ‘collegiate’ atmosphere in the company and that they might work with offices in other regions and countries – graduates will need good team-working skills, and knowledge of other languages might be advantageous.
Take examples from all areas of your life; examples don’t have to come from a property internship or your course to be impressive. If you are part of a student society committee, have you changed how you communicate society meetings to members and has that had a positive effect on turn out? If so, that’s a great example of you being innovative and an effective communicator.
You do need to emphasise what you’ve achieved on both your CV and covering letter – remember the company seeks a track record of ‘academic and personal achievement’.
- Quantify your results wherever possible: if you raised money for charity, say how much; if you updated a database on a property internship, say how many entries you updated; if you worked in a fast-food chain’s drive-through, say how many customers you’d serve on average in a shift. This will help BNP Paribas’ recruiters see your efforts in a context.
- Talk about the impacts of what you’ve done: what happened as a result of your involvement in a project? Have you been praised for your good work in a part-time job? Did you win or get honourably mentioned in a competition?
While BNP Paribas Real Estate want to see a track record of academic achievement, you do not have to list your modules or your GCSEs by result; it’s enough to summarise the grades.
3. Demonstrate that you know what differentiates BNP Paribas Real Estate
When writing about why you want to work for the company, you need to show that you have made a considered choice to work for it based on what you’ve found out about it. You could, for example, give specific details about how it differentiates itself from its competitors, the values it upholds, its business strategy or the nature of the clients and work. Then you need to say why what you’ve found out makes you want to work for them.
BNP Paribas Real Estate is quite kind in telling you openly about some of its differentiators – for example, unlike many other property employers, it is owned and backed by the French bank BNP Paribas. If you write about this, say why that makes you want to work for them. Would BNP Paribas Real Estate’s surveyors benefit from calling upon the finance expertise of its colleagues in the banking world, for example? Demonstrating that you know about the company and how the organisation would benefit your career will make recruiters want to meet you.
4. Spell BNP Paribas Real Estate correctly
Don’t undo all of your good work with a spelling mistake: BNP Paribas Real Estate’s recruiters have told us that misspelling the name is surprisingly common and that those candidates who do rarely (if ever) make it to interview.
How is your application assessed at BNP Paribas Real Estate?
Kim Brumley, resourcing manager at BNP Paribas Real Estate says that she takes the whole of your application into account when reviewing your CV and covering letter: ‘A key thing is the passion candidates have for the industry, and previous work experience also comes into it. But it really does depend on the completeness of the application. In the assessment centre, if somebody isn’t very good on the group exercise, you don’t just write them off; you look at them throughout the whole day. And it’s the same at the application stage.’
While some companies fill interview places on a ‘first-come first-served’ basis, BNP Paribas Real Estate reviews every application submitted. Graduate development manager Ann Ord says, ‘If you submit your application the day before the end date it doesn’t make a difference; you have no lesser or greater chance than if you’d done it on the first day. Every application will be reviewed, and everyone who is appropriate will be put through.’