Investment banking jobs are some of the most popular and fulfilling employment within the finance industry. Getting one, however, isn’t easy. It begins with presenting hiring managers with a fantastic resume tailored for the banking sector. At the best firms, hiring managers will receive – and reject – hundreds of resumes every week. So, how do you stand out?
Sometimes writing a successful resume is as much about what you shouldn’t include as it is about what you should. The average banking resume suffers from two common problems: it isn’t specific enough, or it doesn’t emphasize results. Here are some tips to address both of those mistakes, and five things you should leave off your resume.
“The best way to impress recruiters is with specific descriptions of your responsibilities.”
1. Your life story
Recruiters aren’t interested in a nuanced analysis of your ambition and intelligence. Everyone applying for investment banking jobs has some combination of those qualities anyway. It’s better to show not tell, and the best way to show recruiters your knowledge and vision is with specific descriptions of what you do to contribute every day at the office. Let your experience speak for itself.
2. A long list of positions without actual results
One of the most common mistakes hiring managers see on banking resumes is a list of various roles that winds down the page without ever actually saying something substantial or revealing about the candidate. Most applicants are far too brief when it comes to describing their work responsibilities, leaving recruiters with vague and unpromising ideas of a candidate’s worth.
To improve your resume, expand on what you’ve accomplished. For example, if you researched acquisition targets in the technology industry for your previous employer, you should emphasize exactly what it is you did. You could write something like “Researched over 50 acquisition targets in the technology industry and narrowed options down to five companies using financial criteria such as EBITDA margins and revenue growth; as a result, private equity firm ran due diligence on two companies.” When it comes to tangible results, the more specific, the better.
Avoid job titles that might mislead hiring managers about your past responsibilities.
3. Misleading job titles
It can be tempting, particularly if you don’t have a lot of experience in the banking industry, to leave your job titles just ambiguous enough to mislead hiring managers about your qualifications. No matter the temptation, this is a bad idea. A worker in risk management might simply call themselves an analyst on a resume, but as soon as a banking recruiter sits down with them in an interview it will become clear very quickly that they have been deliberately misleading. The only thing that accomplishes is convincing a recruiter you’re untrustworthy.
4. Any kind of decoration
It may seem an obvious exclusion, but too many resumes arrive on recruiters’ desks filled with logos, stars, boxes and, occasionally, clip art. There are few things more unprofessional in the finance industry than clip art. The other decorations aren’t as outrageous, but they still shouldn’t appear on your resume. Keep it simple, clean and neat. Anything that isn’t plain text just doesn’t belong. Remember that hiring managers are the best resume readers on the planet, and any small mistake or deviation from the norm will jump out at them immediately.
5. A spotty employment record
You can’t do a whole lot about it if you’ve got one, but an inconsistent employment record is, even more than clip art, almost always a guarantee that your resume will be dismissed. The first thing a recruiter will look for on your resume are the places you’ve worked, followed closely by the amount of time you worked with each institution. No matter how prestigious the names, if a candidate only stayed with each of them for a short time – think 18 months or less – recruiters will be highly suspicious of their suitability for a banking position.