As you can imagine, investment banks are flooded with resumes of candidates hoping to land a position as an intern, analyst, associate and even more senior jobs. That means your resume has only 20-30 seconds to catch the interest of the investment banker reviewing it, in order for you to get the next stage of the job search process.
What’s worse, the task of reviewing resumes is often dumped in the lap of lower-level analysts and associates at the bank, and it’s the last thing they want to do, as well. They usually keep a stack of them on their desk until the end of the day and flip through them mercilessly. Even spending just 30 seconds scanning 300 resumes can take hours of their time.
So there are a few critical things you need to keep in mind with your resume. The very first is doing something that will make your unique qualifications jump off the page.
Many experts suggest that you start your resume with a 3-4 sentence “summary” or profile section at the top. This profile lists what’s distinctive about your background, something that sets you apart. It is NOT an “objectives” section, which would likely be too vague to have any meaning to someone reviewing your resume.
But if you have one stunning achievement that reveals something unique about your personality or qualifications, this is the place. For example, “As NCAA Division 1 wrestling champion, I bring a proven drive, dedication to hard work, goal orientation and a spirit of teamwork to my work as an investment banker.”
If you don’t have a single crowning achievement, another suggestion is to focus on what has been referred to as your “brands.” These are the prestigious and well-known schools you have attended or organizations you have worked for. Since your resume will only get a quick glance, if you’ve worked as an intern at Morgan Stanley or did your undergrad work at Columbia, these names need to stand out, near the top.
Should you put your education first, or your employment experience? The rule of thumb is, the more important the information, the closer it should be to the top of your resume. So if there’s something like a high GPA or Phi Beta Kappa distinction, you might choose to put these important accomplishments near the top of your resume. If you had a summer internship at a prestigious Wall Street firm, you might lead with the job experience section.
Another suggestion is to be as specific and results-oriented in your descriptions as possible. When reading some vague language such as “gathered research on potential acquisition candidates,” an analyst might assume that you are not detailed-oriented enough to list the specific companies or industry sector you researched, or unaware of what result your actions had on the outcome. It would be better to include which companies you researched, your sources, whether you did any original research or industry interviews, the factors that influenced your choices and what became of the research.
Here is an example of more specific language from the web source, Mergers and Inquisitions: “Researched over 100 acquisition targets in the construction and home-building industries using Capital IQ and internal databases and narrowed list down to 10 best companies. Used financial screening criteria such as revenue growth and EBITDA margins. Also used qualitative criteria such as market dynamics in construction sub-segments, strength of management teams and exposure to subprime mortgage.”
Next time, we’ll look at a few other critical factors in a successful investment banking job resume. And where you can find some good resume samples to model.