How to write a cover letter in 20 seconds

Why 20 seconds? As a headhunter, I rarely spend more than 20 seconds reading a resume letter. I deal with a lot of hiring managers and understand that they have a similar practice.

My clients are investment bankers and they are the busiest people under the sun. In fact, all hiring managers are busy and must read numbers resume cover letters daily. Therefore, the longer you write, the less effective your letter. A 20-second resume letter is sure to catch the most attention of any hired manager.

In summary, with the most excellent resume letters I’ve read, I have found a formula that works for every industry and every one.

A 20-second cover letter should answer all of these questions accurately:

1. What are you doing?

2. What do you want to do?

3. What can you do?

4. What do you want the reader to do?

Here is a classic example of a 20-second cover letter. It attracts three responses in five minutes, even without attaching a resume.


Hi, my name is Anna Maria D’Souza and I am currently trading vibrant Asian markets for a $ 1 billion hedge fund in London. I am willing to move because of the right fit and opportunity. In a nutshell, I have my own book as well as make some relief when I need it. I have experience in a variety of products ranging from cash, options / derivatives, CBs, etc.

Let me know who to talk to to pursue opportunities.

If you have valuable experience as this candidate, you are sure all hedge fund managers will see you. What if we are a beginner or have less experience? Can we do something similar? Yes. Just copy my formula and answer the four questions I have asked.

Here’s a draft, assuming I’m a new candidate. As today almost all cover letters and resumes come via email, I have therefore omitted the traditional letter format.

Input level analysis position

Hi, my name is Anna Maria D’Souza. I just got my master’s degree from Yale University. My focus was on financial engineering and economics. I’m looking for an entry level analyst position. I have been a quantitative analyst intern at Goldman Sachs and have a good understanding of the US and Asian markets.

I have attached my resume and would like to offer you an opportunity to meet you. Please contact me on 12345678 or email

Remember that in a 20 second resume each word goes on. Each word must add value. Never write long sentences, such as ‘I take the liberty to submit my resume’ or ‘I would most appreciate it if you would like to call me for an interview’.

What if I respond to an ad? Well, easy, use the same formula and edit the headline like this one.

Entrance Level Analysis Position – Response to your advertised vacancy

Consider the busy level of hiring managers, your 20 second resume letter will certainly attract the most attention and is a guarantee that the hiring manager reads your letter fully and will see you.