Writing a graduate or internship covering letter for Citi: do's and don’ts
You must submit a covering letter along with your online application form for graduate positions and internships at Citi. Get this right and you’ll be a step closer to securing a job. This is what you should and shouldn’t do.
Research Citi, the division and role
Carry out thorough research into the bank, your chosen business area and preferred role before you begin. Citi’s main website has truckloads of information; just ensure you read the UK-specific site as well.
Speak with current employees at networking, campus or careers events to find out more about the business and day-to-day responsibilities, or reflect on past conversations and placements if applicable.
Explain why you’re applying to Citi
Specify in your covering letter why Citi has attracted you. Plenty of banks offer graduate jobs and internships; what makes Citi different? Perhaps it’s the bank’s key values: common purpose, responsible finance, ingenuity and leadership. Leadership, for example, encourages professional development and promotes people based on their talent; maybe this meritocratic culture appeals to you. State what you like and why. (The definition of Citi's principles can be found on its website.)
Say why you’ve chosen the business area
Citi offers opportunities across 16 business areas. Graduate recruiters want you to clarify in your covering letter why you have decided to apply to the division you’ve chosen. Think about the different aspects of the division: the clients and colleagues you’ll work with; the team’s objectives; the day-to-day work you’d do; and training and development opportunities. Then pinpoint what appeals to you and why.
Tell recruiters why you should be hired
Include your relevant skills and experience, and why you believe you should be considered for the role. Focus on the qualities you need to do the job. Citi’s investment banking arm, for instance, seeks candidates who have strong teamwork, analytical, research and communication skills, as well as business acumen.
However, it’s also worth being candid and mentioning what you believe are your main strengths, even if they don’t feature in the job description. Citi recruiters have in the past matched applicants with other positions within the business that they didn’t apply for based on their skills set and experience.
Substantiate the claims you make with examples. For instance, if you describe yourself as a good communicator with great people skills in your covering letter, say how you have demonstrated this at university, work or elsewhere. Perhaps you hosted events and delivered presentations while you were the president of a university society.
Citi recruiters welcome a spot of name-dropping, as long as the employee you mention will recollect meeting or having a conversation with you. You could say, for example, something along the lines of ‘After speaking with Laura Gibson, an investment banking and broking associate at Citi, about her role, I conducted further research into the business area and...’
If you have met Citi representatives at a careers, campus or networking event, mention that in your covering letter. Citi recruiters want to see that you have tried to engage with the bank. If you attended an event such as Women in Investment Banking (organised by TARGETjobs Events), you could also mention that you were chosen from X amount of applicants. This would show that you have met the stringent requirements of the event, so are well placed to meet Citi’s.
Exceed one sheet of A4
Your covering letter shouldn’t go over one page of A4, or three to four paragraphs. Citi’s graduate recruiter says you should make sure you answer the three main ‘whys’ above: why Citi; why the division; and why you. You could use these questions to help you structure your letter and reduce your chances of going off on a tangent.
Rush your covering letter
The recruiter says: 'You should take time over your covering letter and sleep on it before you submit.' She adds that you should ask two people (such as a university lecturer and a classmate) to give it the once-over for mistakes, overall sense and effectiveness.
Citi isn’t looking to hire run-of-the-mill graduates; the recruiter says ‘fresh’ candidates who can ‘think outside the box’ are sought. If you can demonstrate that you’re the creative and innovative type whose ideas can make a difference, your covering letter will surely stand out.
Maybe while at university you set up a finance society that, by your penultimate year, had more than 25 members. Or perhaps you co-developed a mobile phone application that was downloaded by hundreds of people within a year of its launch.