When you submit your application for an Investment Banking job the first two things you are going to be assessed on are your resume and your cover letter. In this post I will cover the first (and arguably more important) of these initial introductions, the resume (sometimes called the Curriculum Vitae).
If you have stumbled across this post I suggest first reading my post on How to land an Investment Banking Internship: An overview. It attempted to briefly cover all those things that you should keep in mind when you are writing your application.
In this guide (which is not intended to cover everything…that would require a much larger article) I will delve into more detail on what you should and shouldn’t include when writing your Investment Banking CV.
How to write the perfect Investment Banking Resume:
Always conform to length requirements and norms
I wrote about this previously but you have to conform to the length requirements and application norms in the country and region you are applying in. If your CV is not meant to be longer than a page then you need to keep it to a page.
How do you do this? I know you have tons to write so here are some tips to keep your resume short:
- If in doubt don’t include it: If you are tossing up whether to include something the chances are that it is not critical. If you are trying to save space this should be the first to go
- Write and re-write: You would be amazed how inefficient we can be when we first write something. You can often save a lot of space by re-writing something
- Give emphasis to relevant marks / experience: although it is tempting to give equal weight to everything in your resume keep in mind that some things are more important than others. Give weight to those things which are relevant to landing and Investment Banking job and ignore those things which don’t
Present your marks in the best way possible
Before I get into this section I want to say something upfront. Never ever lie. Never round incorrectly or do anything else which would compromise your integrity. You will get found out eventually and your career is going to last another 40 years…no first job is worth that.
That being said you can present your marks in a way that suits you. Here are some examples:
- If you have outstanding marks in your finance / economics / accounting subjects but other subjects are not as good …
- Consider calling out both your finance average and your overall average (don’t just call out your finance average…this is misleading)
- I’ve never seen an assessor care what your marks were in an Art History subject but they really do care about your finance and economics grades
- If you have a decent average or GPA but poor finance grades…
- Don’t draw attention to or call out your finance grades. Present your overall GPA – your assessors eyes will be drawn to your summary GPA and although they will look at your finance grades you are not putting that at the front of their minds
- If you don’t have a great average (but one that is still ‘passable’)…
- Don’t emphasise your grades. Make sure you still include your average but make sure your application is more about your relevant work experience, your interest in finance and the awesome extra-curricular tasks you undertake
Every one of the examples above has you telling the truth and not lying but it is about directing the assessor to your strengths. I thought about including a standard form CV as part of this post but I decided not to. The fact is those resumes are great if you fit the ‘mould’ of what is a desirable Investment Banking intern. If you don’t fit this mould exactly you need to subtly change the emphasis of your application.
Provide sufficient detail around relevant work experience
Many of you will have had part time and side jobs for years. It is tempting to include a very brief explanation of everything you have done for every job. However giving equal weight to your accounting internship the prior year and to the part time job you currently have as a department store clerk is crazy.
If the experience you are including and talking about is relevant you need to provide more detail and if it is irrelevant to the current job then less detail is the way to go. Again it is about sculpting your resume to suit your experiences.
Here are some rules you should keep in mind:
- If you have relevant experience then you need to go into a bit of detail about this. What did you do, what were your responsibilities, what projects did you work on. Take up some room talking about this and then spend less time on your other work experience
- If you don’t have any relevant experience you shouldn’t dedicate the same amount of room on your resume to prior work experience. Give a brief description of your part time job or jobs but use more space on your resume to mention any investment banking competitions (or similar things which demonstrate your interest in finance)
If you don’t want something brought up in an interview…don’t include it
This is an important rule you should adhere to when writing your resume. If you don’t want to discuss something at an interview or if you don’t feel competent discussing it then don’t include it in your resume. What are some examples of this?
- Language skills: The number of people who say they are fluent in foreign languages and who the get caught out in the interview is incredible…if you’re not confident switching to that language during the interview (on the chance you get an interviewer who speaks it) then don’t include it in the resume
- Hobbies you do infrequently: Including your hobbies in your resume is great and is definitely something you should go for. Banks love to hire well rounded candidates. However please don’t include a hobby you do occasionally. If you get asked about it in an interview it is going to become painfully obvious that you know very little about it
This is all stuff you probably know but it is easy to lose sight of the fact that this may become an issue when all you want to do is actually get the interview in the first place.
Personal information is not always bad…but make sure you think carefully before including it
Some people argue that you should never include any sort of personal information in resume. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing but you need to think carefully about including it. This specifically relates to the information that you provide in the ‘hobbies and other interests’ section of your resume.
Here is a rule that I would subscribe to: if something you do is particularly divisive (e.g. people get very worked up on either side of the issue) then it is something then it is something you may not want to include.
Want some examples?
- Being particularly active or involved in a political party. I know it may be something that you are passionate about but the risk of getting someone that disagrees with you is incredibly high and you don’t want to get dinged by something that will never influence your job
- Being an activist environmentalist or on the other side a shooter and hunter. Again these are perfectly fine things to be but people do seemed to get quite riled up on both sides of the issue
If you are unsure ask yourself whether it is something you would tell someone to impress them if you were not sure what their views were on the subject.
The guide above is not complete…but should help you create a resume which stands out
It is impossible to provide a complete guide in a single post on creating the perfect resume. However if you combine this post with my prior post which provided the general rules of thumb then you are well on the way to creating a resume which stands out above 80% of those which bankers are reading.
Good luck writing your application and if you have any more questions comment below and I’ll get back to you. I will also be providing additional tips and guides via the Banker’s Pitch Newsletter so sign up for that on the right.