Applying for work experience, internships or permanent roles can be a disheartening task, and producing an attention-grabbing CV is a challenge. With recommendations from investment bank CEO Michael Stirling,
IB Insider brings you the top tips for perfecting your CV, so that completing your next investment banking application is a little easier.
1. Be Concise
Although it’s tempting to go into lots of detail and list all your experience, your CV isn’t the place for that – you can probably skip writing about the weekend you spent helping out in a charity shop. James Reed, the chairman of recruitment company REED, discusses how recruiters spend an average of seven seconds looking at CVs, so make sure your time counts.
LinkedIn is ideal for providing more detail about your skills and experience, or for uploading documents with examples of your work (so that charity shop can still have its five minutes of fame). Read more about how to use LinkedIn to boost your career here.
2. Focus on how your skills are relevant to the job
Being able to work both independently and in a team is a necessity as an investment banker according to Michael. In your application, you’ll need to stress how key skills such as these will help you to perform well in the role. Otherwise, simply stating that you work well under pressure, although a very useful attribute in finance, doesn’t carry much weight.
Make sure that the skills you discuss are relevant to the role, and use the job description to help you to understand what the company is looking for.
Goldman Sachs’ website, for example, has a page on which skills they look for in each area of their firm, which could also help if you’re applying speculatively.
3. Gain experience
If you’re new to investment banking, internships are an invaluable tool for getting industry experience and establishing important contacts. Internships with well-known companies, while more competitive, will benefit your CV.
However, Michael says that he looks for candidates with the right profile and attitude rather than those with experience with a specific company. You should aim to train with experienced, ethical and professional individuals or organisations.
This will give your CV an extra boost and show recruiters that you have more than just a strong academic background.
4. Build a relationship with the company
Understand the company that you’re sending your CV to in order to establish a relationship with them. Scour their website and social media to find out their core values and their areas of interest.
For example, J.P. Morgan’s website highlights their philanthropy – if this is something that you’re interested or have experience in, use it!
Not only will this prove that you’ve put effort into understanding the company, it will also enhance your application. The more research you do, the more you will be able to show the company that you’re a good fit for their team.
5. Show the recruiter your personality
Recruiters find it far more interesting when they can see your personality through your CV. You can do this through mentioning your achievements, such as prizes you’ve won or scholarships you’ve been awarded.
Being involved in university societies, especially if you had a significant role, looks great on a CV too. If your achievements aren’t related to finance, don’t worry – use them to your advantage by showing that you have a high aptitude for learning new things quickly.
Additional skills also reflect your personality, so don’t forget to mention if you can play a musical instrument or can speak another language.
6. Have a professional format
As we’ve mentioned, brevity is key, so make sure anything you write is to the point. Michael insists that he likes to see CVs that are professionally presented, no longer than one page, and with no photograph.
Don’t get carried away producing a designer CV, as they should have a simple and clear format.
The CEO also recommends steering clear of writing a personal statement paragraph in your CV, and instead use your cover letter to expand on your experience and attributes.
Read more about what recruiters are looking for in your cover letter here.
When applying to companies overseas, follow the country’s standard format for CVs or resumes, as the length or information needed may vary.
Crucially, avoid the common mistake of sending the same CV to every firm. Your CV should show a recruiter how you would be a valuable asset to their team, as well as giving them an insight into you as a person.
A generic banking CV will make you look like every other generic banking candidate. The most important thing is that your application should be clear, with pertinent examples of your skills and experience.