I’m going to get something out of the way right at the start. If you are applying for a lateral transfer into Investment Banking you need to IGNORE 90% of the advice on the internet. Nearly all of the advice out there is for college and university students looking to both break into banking and into the job market at the same time. You are not coming from the same position and your resume should reflect this.
Some things remain the same while others are significantly different so if you’re looking for advice on how to write an Investment Banking resume if you are transferring from a different career then this is the post for you.
How is the resume for a lateral transfer different to a graduate?
If you have read my series on the 7 steps to land a job in Investment Banking you will know that essentially I am suggesting that you create a story for the person assessing your resume. It is no different when you are applying for a lateral transfer although your focus and emphasis will be very different. Essentially as a lateral transfer this is what your story should look like:
- You have the appropriate qualifications to become and investment banker
- You have experience which is relevant and appropriate for the position you are applying for
- You are interested in banking and this is the natural next step in your current career path
That’s essentially all you need to do. Honestly as a person who has been in the workforce a few years you don’t have the jump through many of the hoops that new graduates do which is a massive advantage.
So what’s the downside? Well effectively you are stuck with your choices from the past…you don’t have the opportunity to create a picture perfect image to present to recruiters. Unless you are willing to go back to university and do an MBA and ‘recreate’ your image from there you are working with what you’ve got.
So why am I still writing? Well how you present your story (rather than what is your story) becomes incredibly important if you are a lateral transfer. Keep reading for my tips on how you can present yourself in the best possible light.
What should your resume look like?
OK I’m going to get very specific here. If you follow these tips you’re going to give yourself the best shot at getting yourself an interview…
Keep your resume SHORT and SWEET
I’m looking at Australian applicants here. Whilst it is perfectly acceptable in Australia to have a resume that runs over 3 – 4 pages I’ve honestly never gotten to the back of one. If you keep it short and sweet people will concentrate on what is important and you are much more likely to get your point across. Cut out all the filler and keep it to 1 – 1.5 pages (max!).
Work experience should make up the bulk of your resume
When graduates apply for jobs they put their education first because it is the thing that employers care most about…after all they are there to be molded. If you are a lateral transfer you have valuable skills and experiences so this definitely comes up front.
Start with your most recently and most relevant job:
- If it is in corporate finance and you have completed deals then include the deals and a short summary on what your role was in the deal
- This also applies if you worked as an M&A lawyer
- If you worked in another field (such as valuations etc) then focus on your strengths and talk about projects you worked on and the transferable skills you have (and always show…don’t say!)
- Fill out what sectors you worked in and all the experience you have
- Often deals and work you did was confidential…that’s fine. Don’t name names but talk about them in a general sense (people get that you can’t disclose this information)
Cut anything that isn’t relevant. Still have that part time job on your resume from when you were in college…cut it!
Education comes next but shouldn’t take up too much room…and hobbies next to none at all!
The education part of your resume should be very brief
- List the university you attended, the date you attended and the degrees you graduated with (as well as your average)
- There is no need to break down your marks like you would as a graduate (if the company is interested they will request an official transcript)
- Some people include their final high school grade but if you do include it make sure it doesn’t take any space!
Hobbies and extra curricular activities are always good to include because it provides filler during interview questions but 1 or 2 lines are more than enough.
References are critical…but shouldn’t take up too much room
The best way to assess what a person is like to work with is to ask those they have worked with before. Your reference is going to be incredibly important when it comes to landing that Investment Banking job so make sure you have someone lined up. Don’t include their name or number on the resume…typically “References provided upon request” is perfectly acceptable and they will only ask for it at the very end of the interview process.
If you have only had one employer since leaving university or college and you are looking to jump to your second job asking your employer for a reference is always a delicate tasks. What I did was to ask someone senior that I had worked with but that also liked me enough not to sabotage me.
Your cover letter is for showing your interest in Investment Banking
If you are doing a lateral transfer into Investment Banking, the chances are that the biggest hurdle you’re going to have to jump is to prove your interest in banking. Why did you do something else first and why are you looking to make a career change. Your cover letter should include:
- Why you are looking to move into the new role (i.e. Investment Banking)
- Why the experience you have is relevant
- What would make you a good candidate for the position
Your story is not going to be the same as mine and giving you more than that for a cover letter is not going to be useful because unlike a graduate you are not an identical person to the next person applying. If you are stuck on your cover letter feel free to shoot it through to me and I’ll have a look at it!