It’s the beginning of the year and many people have the same goal, make more money. Not surprising. Since the vast majority of people have jobs and are looking to tier up platforms or up their position title. With that said, lets take a look at how your résumé will be screened.
Content: Many firms will run your résumé through a word search filter looking for specifics such as “investment banking” “equities” “investor” “AUM (Assets Under Management)” and many more specific words. The more finance experience you have the more likely your résumé will pass an electronic filter. Once it goes through this scan your résumé content will be boiled down to the following (in order of importance):
- Location (switch with College if you are in school)
- Title of most recent position (switch to #1 for higher level jobs)
- Prestige of firm
- Results delivered/rank
- School/credentials/GPA etc.
We start with location for non-college grads because its usually faster to plug and play. Some firms are also trying to avoid relocation payments at the lower-level. Once your career is well on its way, firms will pay up for the right experience so this becomes less relevant. Notably, the higher you go the more likely you’re being referred into positions rather than cold applying to positions in the first place. This of course is the best possible way to break in – direct referral.
Another notable takeaways is that your job experience increasingly determines if you will get an interview and your academic history becomes LESS relevant. This is because the oldest secret of all time is this… If you can make someone money they will hire you.
Errors: Let’s assume that you’re cold applying. In that case the last three things that can ding you are 1) poor format, 2) typos and 3) unprofessional content. Since typos are a no-brainer lets skip that step and focus in on format and unprofessional content.
Format: A correctly formatted finance résumé is one page long starting with your personal information followed by three main sections in order: 1) Relevant experience, 2) University information and 3) Miscellaneous interests. Flip number one and two if you are applying from school. In addition to these basics your résumé should be in bullet format and should not use a generic Microsoft office format. The reason why all of these things are key is as follows: 1) If you cannot format a word document we’ll question your attention to detail and knowledge of finance, 2) We want to know if you are working or coming out of college immediately, 3) We look at your résumé for less than a minute so we want to throw you in the yes or no pile quickly. Three common mistakes below:
- Month or year format: No gaps should be shown off (months), gaps should be hidden (years)
- Not PDF’ing your résumé causing it to to have a poor format
- Not using left and right align functions in the document
Unprofessional Content: Many candidates get burned here as they divulge too much information about their interests or personality. Saying you’re hard working, smart, dedicated, and persistent is an immediate bad sign. If you competed in a college sport like swimming we will assume you are hard working. If you won a prize for playing the violin we will assume you’re smarter/harder working than average. In short.. show do not tell. Some examples of bad things that have actually come across.
- Photos of the candidate… No interview. Not even if you’re a dime piece.
- “Invented” something… We’ll think you’re a liar, prepare to be grilled.
- “Significant Interest in Nazi Germany”… scary and disturbing all in one
- “Favorite Sports Team is the Boston Red Sox”… Bad risk. Wall Street is in NYC
Instead, here are some acceptable interests: Fluent Mandarin (implies smarter), Conversational Spanish (implies smarter), Running marathons (implies hard working), Surfing (implies normal), Piano (implies smarter), Rugby (may imply hard working), Proficient in C++ (implies smart). Anything that shows you are “normal” hard working, dedicated, passionate. Notice, surfing gets a lower mark than say marathons. Why? The stereotype is an Iron Man/Marathon runner would be harder working. If you won a legitimate surfing contest, then do not worry about it.
Now we’re getting to the home stretch. Lets take a look at how you can show skills versus having clutter:
Good Messages/Skills Shown:
- Ranked Top Tier in Analyst/Associate class of 20XX
- Completed $XXX billion/million on M&A, Equity Raises, Debt Raises (Usually getting to VP level)
- Worked on Dual Source M&A and Financing deal which lead to Sale/IPO of XYZ company
- Initiated coverage on X companies and attended management meetings to the IPO of X company
- Managed $XXX billion/million in 20xx which grew to $XXX billion/million in 20xx…
- Fund returned X% over last 3 years, bench-marked against X Index
- Obtained coverage of XYZ region which lead to X% increase in marketing meeting requests
- Pitched XYZ Idea to PM which lead to third/full position generating X% returns over 12 months
- Ranked #X in Greenwich, Institutional Investor, StarMine… in XYZ coverage space
- Worked directly with CFO/CEO/CIO on Sales Deck/Financial Model/Board Presentation
- Managed team of X analysts or X associates as lead staffer for Consumer group
- Worked with XYZ sales team, contributing to an increase in monthly trading volume of XM shares
The main take away is this 1) Quantifiable items, 2) Results from your work or team work, 3) Individual responsibility
Weak Messages/Weak Skills Shown:
- Worked for an analyst covering XYZ space. (Too vague and can be inferred from job title)
- Created pitchbooks and spread comps (Not acceptable for anything but an intern/1st year)
- Helped manage a fund of funds in the technology space (Does not show how much or results)
- Completed two M&A transactions in XYZ space (Does not show any details)
- Worked with 10 person team in XYZ sales and trading desk (Does not show responsibility)
- Managed relationships to generate road shows/meetings (Does now quantify)
Simply put, bad bullets are vague and do not show quantifiable results. Instead of loading up a sample of a good resume right now we will wait for the weekend as we hope you can take these basics and apply them today to see how well you did.
Conclusion: In short, always veer on the side of professionalism, avoid major typos, directly show results and have a resume that is easy on the eyes. The above contains specific examples of things you could modify for your own experience. Finally, we’re beating a dead horse, but PDF your resume. Due to company specific Microsoft word settings, some of your formats may come out incorrectly, one word document we have opened had the email font colored in… florescent pink. Don’t let this be you.