This post forms part of my 7 steps to landing an Investment Banking job. This post will form part of the 6th step which is landing an Investment Banking job in your penultimate year. Landing an investment job involves several steps including:
- Writing a perfect Curriculum Vitae (or resume)
- Writing a cover letter that gets the attention of the assessor
- Getting through the behavioural interview
- Getting through the technical interview
- Getting through the group interview
This may seem incredibly intimidating and it is challenging but there is one bit of good news. Every single investment bank uses the same process. Their interview questions are similar, the things they look for are similar and therefore you don’t need to significantly vary your approach to apply for ~10 different investment banks.
Why are Investment Banking internships so hard to land?
The process I’ve outlined above for landing an investment banking internship is no different to landing any other type of job or internship. So why is it so hard to get an investment banking internship?
Quite simply it has to do with the amount of competition you are facing. Investments banks get hundreds of applications for each position they are trying to fill. I remember sifting through over 600 applications when we were only going to offer 3 internships in my team.
What does this mean for you? It basically means that your application and interview needs to be as close to perfect as possible. It is brutal but Investment Banks are looking for reasons to cut you – they need to somehow get to a number of candidates that they can actually feasibly interview. This means that they will cut on things as small as spelling errors or ugly formatting. Interestingly, although they are looking for the best marks, as I have outlined before they are less important than you may imagine.
The MOST important rule when writing your investment banking application
When students (like you) look at the competition they are facing they think that they need to do something special or unusual to stand out to catch the attention of the person assessing their resume. This is the biggest mistake that you can make.
In my experience every single application gets read so you will be assessed on your merits. Yes you want to pique the interest of the assessor but always remember that Investment Banks are pretty conservative places and ‘different’ applications (such as websites dedicated to yourself or video resumes) get attention for all the wrong reasons.
So what should you do when you’re writing your Investment Banking application?
Conform to length requirements / norms
The appropriate length of a resume varies from country to country. In some (such as the US) it cannot be more than a page while in others (such as Australia) it can be as long as you like. If there is a hard limit…stick to it. If there isn’t a hard limit try and keep it under 2 pages. I worked in Australia and no one reads a 5 page resume.
Make your formatting pleasing to the eye
Junior investment bankers (the ones who will be reading your resumes) are trained to spot formatting mistakes at 100 paces. By the time I left investment banking I was irrationally annoyed by things like double spaces between words or margins on two pages which were different to each other.
Should it matter? Probably not. Does it? Definitely! So make sure that your formatting is perfect and pleasing to the eye.
Make it easy to navigate
Most people assessing your resume will not spend long reading it. Make sure your application is easy to navigate and that the layout is logical. I know that most investment banks require you to submit a certified copy of your transcript but have a look at your transcript and work out whether it is actually easy to ready.
Some university / college transcripts are a nightmare to read or you may have changed course a couple of times so it may be confusing. My transcript was fairly complex so I included a summary table in my application of my marks along with my average grade (or GPA depending on your location).
Emphasise relevant work experience
Not all work experience is created equal and you shouldn’t place equal weight when it comes to describing your work experience in your resume. Emphasise your relevant internships and experience over your part time job that has nothing to do with finance.
Hobbies are fine
Some people suggest not including anything that doesn’t relate to finance however I have written before about how investment banks do really try and hire well rounded people. Make sure you include them…but don’t go overboard on this section.
What should you avoid doing when writing your application?
Never ever lie
This may sound obvious but you will be surprised how many people ‘stretch the truth’. You may get an interview but if you are ever found out…there goes your career. This applies to grades, activities, languages…anything.
Don’t have spelling or grammar mistakes
This will send your application straight to the bin. Spell check exists and there is no reason you shouldn’t use it. Also if you don’t work in the US make sure that your spell check is set to your local language. If I am assessing a resume in Australia and see words incorrectly spelled because they are in US English and not UK English I am not going to be too impressed.
If you’re not the best on grammar get someone to check your application. Grammar has never been my strong suit so I made sure that I knew and trusted to check my application for grammatical errors.
Don’t be verbose
Short sharp explanations are the way to go. Why use 2 paragraphs when a sentence will do?
Good luck and get writing
Next time I will put a post on what to actually include or leave out of your CV and how you can think about setting up your resume with specific tips and hints.
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