How to Write a Compelling Cover Letter for a Private Equity Job Search

Surveys show that a potential employer spends less than 15 seconds reading a cover letter. In your job search, your resume is your primary selling tool, while the cover letter often serves as a quick first impression with an employer. It is an important document that is often misused through the use of unfocused, irrelevant content. This happens because the purpose of writing is often misunderstood.

There is no generic private equity cover letter. As we have already written, companies have very specific hiring needs. There is a gap in their team and they are trying to fill that gap. Your cover letter should reflect this understanding by specifically addressing the need. It’s simple, if your letter misses the mark, you won’t get an interview. A cover letter answers critical questions for the reader:

Who are you?

What are you bringing to the table?

What do you want?

How good are your written communication skills?

Your private equity cover letter should be short (never more than one page) and easy to scan. The right information in the right format gets the job done. A good formula is this three-paragraph format:

Who are you?

The letterhead gives them your name, so start with your unique selling proposition (USP): “A private equity investment professional with extensive M&A transaction experience…” Qualify it with a scope of experience: “…transactions in the range of $10 million to 1 Billion dollars, mostly in biotechnology….” If you were recommended by a company employee, mention it here. Use two or three short sentences to orient your reader.

What do you want?

They want to be the solution to the employer’s problem. No doubt you have many skills to use for an investment firm, but the cover letter is not the place to explore them all. Provide a strong reason to persuade your reader to turn to the resume. Think about the problems the company is trying to solve and develop them as the body of your cover letter. Provide examples to demonstrate your skills (preferably as bullet points) taken from your resume.

Conclude with a call to action.

After determining that you are the solution to their problem, set up a meeting to discuss the company’s needs or goals and ask them to call you. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Remember that you have 15 seconds to get the attention of the company’s HR manager. Your cover letter for the private equity position you are applying for needs to be better than all the others piling on their desk!