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Writing a graduate or internship covering letter for Citi: do's and don’ts

It’s worth being candid and mentioning what you believe are your main strengths, even if they don’t feature in the job description.

You should submit a covering letter as part of your online application for graduate positions and internships at Citi. Its careers website advises: 'Tell us why you're choosing Citi, the specific program you're applying for, and what makes you an ideal candidate.' Get this right and you’ll be a step closer to securing a job. Here's what you should and shouldn’t do.


Research Citi, the division and the role

Carry out thorough research into the bank, your chosen business area and preferred role before you begin.

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 obligations: to act responsibly, do everything possible to create the best outcomes, and prudently manage risk. Doing everything possible to create the best possible outcomes, for example, implies very high levels of client care; maybe this customer-led culture appeals to you. State what you like about it and why.

Say why you’ve chosen the business area

Citi offers a range of full-time, placement and internship opportunities across a number of its business areas. These include corporate and investment banking, capital markets origination, markets and securities services, treasury and trade solutions, private banking, finance, HR and technology. 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 communication, planning and organisational skills, as well as intellectual curiosity.

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 skill set and experience.

Include examples

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.

Name drop

Citi recruiters welcome a spot of name-dropping, as long as the employee you mention will remember meeting or having a conversation with you. You could say, for example, something along the lines of ‘After speaking with [eg] Jessica Plant, EMEA graduate recruiter at Citi, about the company, I conducted further research into the business area and...’

Mention events

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 you could also mention that you were chosen from X number 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’: 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.

Blend in

Citi isn’t looking to hire run-of-the-mill graduates; the recruiter says it seeks ‘fresh’ candidates who can ‘think outside the box’. 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.

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