Internship selection step 1: the CV and cover letter

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Short and specific seem to be the operative words.

It could be an American thing: US banks Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers still expect would-be interns to send in a CV and covering letter. They say both are crucial in whittling down the 4,000-or-so applicants to a more manageable level.

First, the cover letter

Graduate recruiters say the covering letter needs to be short. Some accept up to five paragraphs, but Alison Trauttmansdorff, head of European campus recruiting at Goldman Sachs says three paragraphs is the maximum you really need. "You need to write three succinct paragraphs saying why you are interested in working for us and how your skills match the job." It should not be a bland statement of the obvious, nor a lengthy reiteration of your CV. Trauttmansdorff says unsuccessful applicants write short generic statements such as, 'Goldman Sachs is an astounding firm and I would be honoured to work for you.' The ideal letter shows an applicant's skills, and that they know about the bank.

Next, the CV

In the US, CVs are usually short one-page affairs filled with bullet points, and American investment banks advocate a similar style. "The CV should express all relevant information but try to keep it succinct," says Joanne Scott, head of graduate recruitment at Morgan Stanley. French bank BNP Paribas expects something a little longer. Allison Bridle, head of graduate recruitment at BNP Paribas says a two-page CV is desirable:

What relevant information should be included in a CV? Unless you have multiple facial piercings and a shaven head, recruiters say a photograph can be a good idea to help you stand out. Allison Bridle of BNP Paribas says "We look for excellent academics, work experience and extra curricular activities, whether this is participation in sports, joining an investment society, or charity work."

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