Updated: Oct 19
Navigating the competitive realm of investment banking requires more than just adept financial acumen; it demands a CV that resonates with the industry's conservative and time-honoured traditions. While the internet brims with myriad investment banking resume samples, adhering to the benchmark remains crucial. Tailoring your CV to the expected framework, whether you're an aspiring college entrant or an established analyst, is non-negotiable.
This article endeavours to guide you through the anatomy of a CV tailored for the world of investment banking, illuminating the integral sections and offering insights on presenting your journey compellingly. While the concept of a "perfect resume" is nebulous, with diverse formats floating around the objective remains clear: to optimize your CV in a manner that amplifies your chances in the rigorous recruitment process.
Begin with the fundamentals: a streamlined format. Embrace simplicity—consistent fonts, unobtrusive text colours, and an emphasis on clarity. A one-page resume suffices, especially for recent graduates or students. The recruiter's convenience should be paramount; eschew verbose paragraphs in favour of crisp bullet points. Visualize the recruiter, inundated with resumes daily; a clear, concise document is the key to retaining their attention.
For students stepping into this arena, a structured approach is advised:
However, seasoned professionals might find rearranging these sections beneficial, placing 'Work Experience' atop and 'Education' further down, resonating with their professional journey's progression. There's flexibility within these guidelines. For instance, a young professional with limited experience might incorporate a succinct profile summary, accentuating key skills and milestones, lending a fuller appearance to the CV.
Ultimately, your resume is more than a mere document; it's a testament to your capabilities and aspirations, your pitch to prospective employers. Modify sections, prioritize information, but ensure your portrayal is the finest version of your professional self.
In the world of investment banking, especially at the Analyst and Associate tiers, the CV wields considerable influence. It's not just an entry ticket to interviews but a tool that shapes your participation in elite clubs, events, and crucial networking endeavours. It's the foundation of your narrative when faced with pivotal interview questions, like "Walk me through your resume." Many stumble right at this preliminary hurdle; a meticulously crafted CV ensures you're already ahead in the race.
Through this chapter, you'll gain insights to elevate your resume, ensuring it not only meets industry standards but also stands out, heralding your unique journey and aspirations.
Download the CV template word file here:
Contact Details Section
The 'Contact Details' section, while simple in its nature, lays the foundation for the first impression of your CV. Begin with your name, ensuring it stands out, making it the centrepiece of this section. This should be followed by your residential address. However, if your address is situated in an area that might raise eyebrows or cast perceptions that don't favourably represent you, it's advisable to omit it.
Next, the inclusion of a professional email is crucial. Choose an address that predominantly features your name, avoiding any informal or whimsical variants. Pair this with your phone number, offering potential employers a direct means of communication.
In today's digital age, adding a link to your LinkedIn profile is an option. If your LinkedIn showcases significant professional achievements or a well-curated network, you might consider incorporating it. However, remember it remains optional in the 'Contact Details' section.
It's also essential to consider cultural and regional nuances. In certain regions, it's quite common to affix a personal photo to the CV, and if it's customary, feel free to do so. But, exercise caution: never include your photo on your resume if you're applying in the US or UK due to stringent discrimination laws. Broadly speaking, it's more prudent to exclude your photo from the CV, avoiding any potential biases it might inadvertently introduce.
To sum it up, while 'Contact Details' seems straightforward, it's crucial in setting a professional tenor for the rest of your CV, considering both universal best practices and regional nuances.
Here is an example of what this could look like:
Your educational background is a key pillar in the construction of a formidable CV, specially for professions like investment banking, where academic accomplishments are viewed with a discerning eye. Let's unravel the most effective way to craft this section.
Positioning and Basics:
For Students or Recent Graduates: Begin with your most recent academic institution—usually the university you're attending or have just graduated from. Include its name, location, and if you're still studying, your anticipated graduation date.
For Experienced Professionals: If you're beyond your college years or have more than three years of professional experience, position this section after 'Work Experience'.
Details to Highlight:
Major & Concentration: Clearly list your major and any specializations. Your grades, especially if commendable, deserve a mention.
Honors & Recognitions: Showcase achievements that highlight your commitment to excellence, such as making the Dean's List or other commendable academic honours.
High School & Exchange Programs: While your university details take precedence, including high school details or university exchange programs can be beneficial if you lack substantial work experience.
GPA & Test Scores:
The Importance of GPA: Especially for roles in investment banking, your GPA isn't just a number – it's an indicator of your commitment, perseverance, and academic rigor. It's pivotal to include if you're a student or if you've graduated in the past three years. For those with a GPA that doesn't showcase their full potential, consider mentioning your major-specific GPA if it's more flattering. Ensure the GPA is rounded off correctly, adhering to mathematical norms.
Test Scores: Incorporate scores from standardized tests like SAT (above 1400/1600 or 2100/2400) or ACT (above 32) in the US. For professionals further into their career, such as MBA holders, including undergraduate GPA or GMAT scores (above 700) is optional, but if they are remarkable, they can be an asset.
Awards & Achievements:
Highlight Distinctions: Don't hold back! Celebrate academic accolades such as 'Cum Laude' or 'Dean's List'. Include any meritorious recognitions or distinctions that underscore your calibre.
Competitions & Scholarships: Whether it's emerging victorious in a stock pitch contest or securing a coveted scholarship, these achievements amplify your profile. Even being a finalist or semi-finalist in competitions holds value—it illustrates your commitment to excellence.
Tailoring your CV to the position you're applying for can be achieved by detailing coursework relevant to the role. It not only demonstrates your academic foundation but also underscores your interest and aptitude for the domain.
Concealing a Low GPA: If your GPA is less than ideal, consider listing a 'Major GPA' or highlighting a visible improvement trend in the latter years.
High School: Including high school details is generally reserved for those in the early stages of their academic journey. Once you have graduated from university and started working full-time, there is no need to continue listing your high-school.
In the realm of investment banking and similar sectors, your educational narrative is not just a reflection of your academic journey but a testament to your commitment, resilience, and capacity for excellence. Make sure it is articulated in a manner that does justice to your endeavours.
Here is an example of what the 'education' section could look like:
Work Experience Section
Crafting a potent "Work Experience" section on your resume is pivotal. It provides potential employers a glimpse into your professional history, showcasing your abilities, achievements, and career progression.
Structure and Order
Chronological Listing: Always present your work experience in reverse chronological order, with your most recent position at the forefront.
Key Details: For each role, ensure you include:
Your job title
Dates of employment (from-to)
Bulleted Points: Use concise bullet points rather than lengthy sentences. This provides clarity and aids readability.
Action Words: Begin each point with strong verbs such as "led", "managed", "designed", etc.
Quantify Achievements: Make your achievements tangible. Instead of writing "Led a marketing campaign", opt for "Spearheaded a marketing campaign, boosting sales by 53% YoY".
Employ the XYZ Formula: A strong bullet can be structured as "Achieved X, indicated by Y, by implementing Z". For instance, for a sales role: "Increased retention rates by 31% monthly by introducing new product features."
Consistency: Keep a uniform number of bullets for each role or use a descending pattern based on the importance or relevance of the job.
Tackling a Lack of Relevant Experience:
If you're an early career professional or changing industries, leverage any experience you possess, however unrelated it may seem. Jobs like bartending or tutoring, for instance, might not directly align with your target role but they demonstrate work ethic and transferable skills.
Tailoring Your Experience:
Relevance Over Quantity: While you might have a plethora of experiences, focus on the 2 to 4 most recent or relevant ones. Allocate more space to the experiences that align more closely with the job you're targeting. Highlight internships, leadership roles, or positions where you made a substantial impact.
Prioritization: Suppose you had a finance internship, a stint in biology research, and a part-time waiter role. The finance internship should command more resume real estate than the other two.
Combining Work and Leadership Roles: If you have a blend of professional roles and leadership in clubs or organizations, group them under “Work & Leadership Experience”. This efficient categorization saves space and boosts the weight of your leadership roles.
Deciding on Separation: If, for instance, you've had multiple internships in investment banking, it might be more appropriate to label the section simply as "Work Experience", focusing on the major and recent ones and then to have a separate “Leadership Roles” section.
Here is an example of what the 'work experience' section could look like:
Additional Information Section
Concluding the CV is the 'Additional Information' segment. While primary resume sections capture a recruiter’s attention, it’s often this section that can be a game-changer, especially when choices are tight.
The Power of the ‘Additional’ Section:
Though it won't rescue a weak application, the 'Additional' section can be a tipping point in your favour when decisions are borderline. A remarkable element here might just sway the decision-makers. This section frequently becomes a talking point in interviews. Often, interviewers, nearing the interview’s conclusion, might drift towards this section, steering the conversation towards more personalized topics, making it a vital aspect of your presentation.
Mention the languages you speak, highlighting proficiency levels such as fluent, intermediate, or beginner. Generally speaking, banks only care about if you are fluent in a language and can use it in a business context.
Candidates in the US should refrain from stating "Fluent in English" as it’s superfluous.
However, if you're a candidate from a non-English speaking region aiming for roles in linguistically diverse areas like Europe or Asia-Pacific, your fluency in multiple languages becomes crucial. If applying for an Analyst role in Europe, proficiency in languages such as German or French should be prominently mentioned.
For undergraduates and non-MBA graduate students without significant full-time work experiences, extracurricular activities are essential.
Prioritization: Activities in finance or business-related clubs should be highlighted foremost. Following that, include roles in sports teams, social sororities/fraternities (US), and other activities that had a positive impact beyond oneself.
Significance: The inclusion of extracurriculars portrays campus involvement. Since many college students feature these activities, recruiters tend to expect them, especially for younger candidates.
Volunteering & Unique Achievements:
This is where you can feature charitable efforts, unique recognitions, patents, or any standout accomplishments.
Personalizing your resume with interests can resonate with bankers. Many interviewers might share or comment on similar hobbies, leading to engaging conversations.
However, specificity enhances appeal. Instead of just "Pianist", mention "Pianist with 7 years of experience." Rather than "History Enthusiast", opt for "Enthusiast of Italian Renaissance period"
While individuality is great, it's beneficial to also list universally relatable interests like sports or even popular TV series, providing common ground with a broader audience.
Skills and Certifications:
Common skills such as proficiency in basic software like MS Office rarely add value. Given that these tools are widely used, such a claim becomes redundant. However, the applicant tracking system “ATS” might still search for these key words so it is wise to include them. However, once you have started working in investment banking and are applying again for a different position within investment banking or private equity, it is recommended to take out your MS Office skills as it is obvious.
Specialized skills, like programming languages or design software, are often deemed irrelevant for investment banking roles. Large banks usually have dedicated teams for such tasks. However, distinctions in these areas, like winning a significant coding contest, could be highlighted under achievements rather than skills.
Certifications, while not holding massive weight, can still be listed. Notable ones might include CFA, CPA, or Series 7 (US). However, avoid generic acknowledgments.
The 'Additional Information' section is more than just a resume appendix. It's a platform to reveal facets of your personality that the main sections might not capture. While your primary qualifications get you in the door, it's often these additional insights that can pave the way for deeper connections and discussions, making your application memorable.