How to Write an Effective Investment Banking Resume?

Dear Reader,

I hope all the articles I have been publishing off late on FinanceWalk related to jobs in the finance domain have been helpful to you.

I have been trying to write in a very easy and lucid language so that it’s easy for you to decipher.

For some time now many young graduates are writing to me asking for specific information for specific financial segments.

I have been trying to do exactly that as in today’s highly competitive world of finance, you can no longer afford to be generic.

For example, the requirement for a private equity job is different than the requirement for an investment banking job and the requirement for a trading job.

There are many articles on the Internet which talk about how to write successful resume when you are looking for a new job.

But there are very few articles which are specific and really helpful.

As explained earlier being generic does not help you anymore. You have to have horses for courses.

Last week one of my students had sent me her resume as she wanted to approach an investment bank for a job.

The first impression that I had on seeing the resume was that it was too long and too generic.

It did not showcase any of her specific skills that an investment bank might be looking for when selecting a new candidate.

I had to spend a lot of time with her to fix the resume and make it more attractive to investment banks.

I thought I will write a very specific article which will help other prospective candidates looking for an investment banking job write a very effective resume as well.

There has been a lot written about the contents of a resume, so I won’t harp too much on that section. I will try to focus more on the key things that you should remember while writing the resume.

The first thing that you need to remember is that your resume should not be unnecessarily too long and generic. Recruiters do not have all the time in the world to read a very long resume.

You need to be specific and to the point but at the same time you need to showcase your skill sets which will attract the recruiters to your resume.

Let me start with pointing out some specific problems that I have seen over the numerous resumes that I have checked.

The most common Problems while writing a resume for an investment banking job are:

#1. Resume Being Too Long

The most important thing that you have to remember is that investment bankers are extremely busy people and don’t have a lot of time to read your entire resume in detail.

You have to make sure that your resume is crisp but at the same time you cover all the key elements of an effective resume.

There are many people of the opinion that a resume should be either one page or at the max two pages long.

I agree to this thought process and will advise you to keep your resume to a maximum of two pages if possible.

No one wants to read a five-six pager resume.

Also a very long resume makes you look like a show-off! We don’t want that.

So please make sure that your resume is crisp but encompasses all your accolades properly.

#2. Resume Being Too Generic

One of the most important things in investment banking is‘attention to detail’ and the ability to count.

In the resume that the girl had sent me she had written under your experience section, ‘I have collated intelligence on mergers and acquisitions targets’.

Now tell me if this is going to be enough.

Believe me, no!

The recruiters will think that you are not capable of either recalling any details and they will also doubt your counting abilities. They will also doubt if you actually really did that job.

You have to remember that investment banking professionals differentiate themselves from other professionals such as doctors or lawyers by getting remuneration for results instead of being paid for hours of work.

So it is eminent that you have to focus on the final results when you are writing your resume.

This will help you in proving to the recruiter that you had actually done the job yourself and can also recollect what exactly you did on that job.

Now tell me if you change the above sentence to “I researched mergers and acquisition targets in the cement industry”, is it going to be enough? Better right? But is it enough? No! We can still add a lot more details here to make it more specific.

We can add stuff such as which criteria you used for choosing the merger and acquisition targets? Which valuation model did you use to choose your target? What was the process that you used to narrow down your list of probable targets?

Apart from the detail, there’s also the concern about your counting abilities. How many mergers and acquisition targets did you research?

Here is another improvement to the above sentence - “Researched over 10 mergers and acquisition targets in the cement industry and narrowed the list down to 2 key organizations, using various financial valuation models like revenue growth model and comparative margins model”.

#3. Resume Not Focusing on Specific Results

How does it read now?

Better right?

But can we make it still better? Yes we can.

What is that we are still missing out here? The final result!

What happened once you narrowed down the target list? That’s the key thing that the recruiter wants to know.

Remember I have explained above that investment banking is all about results! You don’t get paid by the hour in investment banking; it’s only the results that matter!

But now here you could have a problem. Sometimes you just don’t know the final result of your work.You might not know what happened as may be you left the firm before anything concrete actually happened.

Then what can you do?

No problem, do not worry!

In such cases it’s fine to leave the result out.

But then again, I always tell my students to be proactive. Try to get solutions not problems!

In such cases, I would recommend “broadening your view” and trying to arrive at something to write about, even though it might not be hundred per cent accurate or did not help the company thousands of dollars.

Here’s how you can add a result to the instance of mergers and acquisition target research above.

“Researched over 10 mergers and acquisition targets in the cement industry and narrowed the list down to two key organizations, using various financial valuation models like revenue growth model and comparative margins model; resulted in the investment banking firm conducting further due diligence on the two companies.”

Here the recruiter can understand what actually happened to the work you conducted in your earlier job if you write intelligently.

Now see, it’s OK to not have results for every example, but do try to use this arrangement wherever possible.

Typically if you “broaden your view” and think about the possible effect of your work, even if it’s trivial, you can surely come up with something that you can add to your resume to make it more effective.

#4. Resume Not Formatted Properly

Now unfortunately most candidates take the issue of formatting very lightly. Though it might sound trivial, believe me this is extremely important.

The recruiters who check your resume can discover formatting errors very fast.

Believe me,the key job of an investment banking analyst is to find formatting mistakes in PowerPoint documents and Word documents and correct them.

Their eyes are trained for this.

Any basic formatting mistakes will immediately put them off and you will lose the chance of getting into that organization.

So which is the best way to format your resume? If you need to correct formatting problems in your resume, I suggest that you do the following things.

1. Always use a good professional resume template

2. Do not hurry with writing your resume. First jot down the key points on a piece of paper! Once you have remembered everything in detail, then start typing your resume.

3. Always revisit your resume the next day. Sleep over the resume. Check it again the next day. This will help you find mistakes that you may be mixed on your first review.

4. Send your resume to a friend or your college professor to review it and look for mistakes or gaps that you probably missed.

I hope you have read the article very carefully.

Remember that being generic is not going to help you.

You need to be specific and detailed in your resume.

I promise you that if you abide by these points while writing your resume, you will be able to come up with a very powerful resume and will definitely help you get that dream investment banking job!

How to Write an Effective Investment Banking Resume? 1
How to Write an Effective Investment Banking Resume? 2

3 thoughts on “How to Write an Effective Investment Banking Resume?”

  1. Really nice article!!!


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