Credit Suisse requests a cover letter to accompany its application form. This additional procedure is intended to weed out the motivated candidates from the unmotivated; the well-researched from the uninformed; and those who genuinely want to join the team from those who just want a job.
Therefore, it could be wise to structure your letter by explaining your motivation first and then matching your skills and experience to the requirements of the job. If you leave the part about your motivation to the end you run the risk of not grabbing the reader and distinguishing yourself from your peers.
Credit Suisse says that your cover letter should focus on answering the following questions:
- Why you are interested in the position
- What makes you qualified for this position
- Why you should get this position
1. In your Credit Suisse cover letter, provide evidence of your motivation for applying
You should stress that Credit Suisse is a place where you really want to work, but avoid regurgitating corporate spiel while you do so. Writing the following is a big mistake: ‘I wish to work for a leading global investment bank and Credit Suisse in particular because of the way you help clients achieve their growth ambitions, build and expand their businesses, and meet their objectives.’ This has been copied directly from the Credit Suisse website. Doing this is rather lazy, does not show the critical thinking Credit Suisse seeks and does not say anything personal about you.
Credit Suisse allows you to apply for up to two programmes globally. Make sure your cover letter is tailored to the programme for which you are applying and demonstrates your motivation for choosing that programme. Say which aspects appealed to you specifically and why, and use examples from your past experience to back up your reasons.
A formal internship with a finance firm or a particular module you’ve excelled in during your degree are excellent examples to use in your covering letter. The experience doesn’t have to be obscure or novel (eg work experience on a safari), nor does it have to be finance-related (although it would help if it were). What it must be, however, is a clear demonstration of how you have displayed the qualities the bank is looking for.
It is great for the opening of the letter, in particular, to be personal (but not chatty). For instance, explain you are motivated by intellectual and strategic challenge and then go on to write how that’s demonstrated in your love of playing chess, particularly when visualising future moves and narrowing them down to those that really work for you. These are all things that are useful in investment banking and reflect well upon you as an individual.
2. In your Credit Suisse cover letter, demonstrate your knowledge
Your reasons for applying, supported by a concrete example, will convey why you should be considered for the job, but not necessarily why you should get it. Don’t leave it to Credit Suisse to draw the links between your interest, experience and the job you’re applying for. Spell out succinctly how what you’ve described tallies with the requirements of the job, and why you’re the best fit.
This is where your knowledge of the position, Credit Suisse and the industry comes in. Mentioning something insightful that connects your reason for applying for the job and your example to the job role, bank or industry demonstrates that you’re a conscientious candidate who’s serious about a career with the Swiss lender. It also shows that you’ve done your research, which won’t go unnoticed.
You could, for instance, focus on the bank’s equity research division and how the quantitative and thematic research and analysis work you did at university prepared you for a role within it.
3. In your Credit Suisse cover letter, say why you should get the job
Credit Suisse asks you to specify a reason why you believe you’re qualified for a job at the bank. The reason you choose must be underpinned by a solid example that demonstrates how you have employed the specific skills, qualities, experience or attitude Credit Suisse is looking for.
Choose one or two examples from the practical experience, qualifications or knowledge you’ve gained through your academic life, work experience or extracurricular pursuits. Your relevant experiences will already be summarised in your CV, but the covering letter is an opportunity to elaborate on the best and most suitable example – prioritise depth over breadth. To do this, you need to know what Credit Suisse wants in an employee: the job and profiles on this employer hub are good places to start finding out.
Most applicants detail their skills, knowledge and experience (which are all relevant and desirable) in their covering letters, but fail to convey how they want to use them to the betterment of the employer. You’ll be hired by Credit Suisse because you meet the requirements in the job description and can identify where you can add value to the bank. Remember there are those who genuinely want to join the team and those who just want a job. You could explain that you want to use your attributes to strengthen Credit Suisse’s operation, client relations, or another aspect of its operation.
For more tips on writing a covering letter, see our investment banking covering letter advice feature.