How to Write an Investment Banker Resume
Originally published: 12/12/2017 15:17
Publication number: ELQ-86452-1
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How to Write an Investment Banker Resume

A comprehensive guide on what investment bankers look for in a candidate's resume.


How Investment Bankers Will Read Your Resume

One thing that became glaringly obvious to me when I started working in investment banking and was on the other side of the job interview process: it is truly hard to believe how many mediocre resumes there are out there. This is a terrible situation for the job seekers in this position, because having a good resume is a key factor in whether many candidates even get a first-round interview. Remember: if you’re applying for an investment banking job, you will have stiff competition. You resume must stand out, and it must be highly professional. Thus having a solid understanding of how to construct a high-quality resume is crucial. It is arguably the first thing you do in your career search.

Resumes are typically submitted through the investment bank’s career website and filtered down to Human Resources (HR). Resumes are then bundled together and sent around to investment bankers for review. If you have applied for an internship or analyst-level positions, investment banking analysts will be in charge of reviewing your resume. The bundled resumes will be looked at quickly individually, and recommendations will be made on who they feel is qualified for interviews.

If you are from a “core school” then the alumni team from your school at the bank will typically review your resume; these are generally analysts or associates. If you are applying for an associate position then investment banking associates and above will be checking over the resumes (analysts will not be involved).
In terms of time, bankers will probably spend only seconds looking at your resume. If they see anything unusual about it (poor formatting, unorthodox layout, a typo, a grammatical error, etc.), it will be very hard to recover from that quick initial impression no matter how talented you are, and no matter how good your experience is. Therefore it must stand out while following “the rules,” and it must be error-free.

So how do you construct a resume that stands out from the crowd without breaking “the rules”? Most people think they have a good resume, and many do, but investment banking recruiters are looking for a very particular style. Without the right resume, it doesn’t matter how talented, hard-working, or experienced you are: you won’t get in the door.

  • Step n°1 |

    What Investment Bankers Look for in a Resume

    These are both critical for an investment banking resume especially during the early years. The bankers want to know that you can solve quantitative problems. Your resume will benefit if you demonstrate this skill. Have you:
    > Filtered through data and assumptions, and identified reasonable responses to complex problems?
    > Synthesized large amounts of information and identified issues?
    > Identified a problem and taken proactive approach to solving it?
    > Done well in courses with heavy analytical and quantitative content?
    > Performed experiments that required formulation of a hypothesis and collection of evidence to support or reject it?

    Firms want to know whether you have the initiative, motivation, and energy to deliver strong results. Start tracking and measuring your achievements and specific situations that demonstrate these skills and qualities. Make sure they are apparent in your resume. When you interview, you’ll need to discuss your accomplishments in detail. Have you:

    > Brought new customers and/or revenue into your company?
    > Proven yourself to be a self-starter who goes above and beyond requirements?
    > Shown the ability to switch priorities and move quickly among different tasks?
    > Set a challenging goal and achieved it?
    > Attended to important details while also juggling multiple tasks (that is, you didn’t let things fall through the cracks even when you have a lot going on)?
    > Taken an innovative and efficient approach to get something done?

    The ability to write and speak efficiently and effectively suggests that you’ll be successful working with clients and colleagues. Your resume will benefit if you demonstrate this skill. Have you:

    > Presented in front of classes, teams, and organizations?
    > Written successful papers, memos, and speeches?
    > Worked effectively with clients to understand their needs?
    > Articulated ideas in a clear and thorough manner?
    > Used communication skills to resolve a difficult problem with a client, supplier, or colleague?

    Teaming up with clients and peers is a critical assignment. Bankers work in teams. They generally interact with teams of executives from client companies. Also, bankers are looking for leaders. Individuals that find a way to get things done and people that can handle the pressure-filled environment of the job. Your resume will benefit if you demonstrate this aptitude. Have you:

    > Been a member of a sports team, study group, or committee?
    > Worked effectively with people whose work style differs from your own?
    > Inspired others to take action in an unstructured situation?
    > Taken on the role of a team leader or player as needed?

    It is essential to explain,”Why are you here?” Investment bankers want to know that you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into and that you have a legitimate interest in a finance career. This is especially critical for liberal arts majors that don’t have course requirements in finance. Your resume will benefit if you demonstrate this interest. Have you:

    > Been a member of any investment banking or finance-related club?
    > Competed in finance case competitions? How did you do?
    > Taken relevant finance courses?
    > Invested your own trading portfolio?

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