How to Create a Compelling Investment Banking Resume

Writing an effective investment banking resume is the first step for candidates looking to break into the industry. As an investment banking recruiter, I have reviewed thousands of resumes of people applying for jobs. Most of the time, I spend less than 30 seconds on an individual resume.

The bottom line is that it is very important for your resume to clearly and quickly communicate the key accomplishments that will set you apart.  Having a clean industry resume communicates that you have done the proper legwork and preparation.

Choose an Industry-Friendly Format

The Chronological Format

The chronological format structure is based on your employment record. Your most recent employer is traditionally listed first. This format is excellent for job seekers staying on a career path with a clear progression through a specific industry. This format is not usually optimal for job seekers changing careers. I like this format the best because it clearly shows progression, or lack thereof. I find this format to be straightforward and easy to read.

The Functionality Format

Unlike the chronological format, the functionality format highlights specific skills and accomplishments. This format is specifically useful when changing careers or starting out in the workforce – for example. This format is very effective for job seekers without experience in their chosen field. Unfortunately this format can appear less detailed and less straightforward than a chronologically formatted resume.

Make Use of Bullet Points and Be Concise 

Bullet points are standard. One page is standard for investment banking resumes in the U.S. As a tip, you should have no more than six bullet points per subheading: Any more than that and it just becomes a list.

If you don’t present your resume in the form of bullet points from the outset, recruiters will usually distill it down into bullet points for you or just ding you flat out. For this reason, you need to have some hard facts in your resume. Without these, there will be nothing for them to create bullet points with.

We recommend sticking with a robust one-page bulleted resume and a separate deal sheet listing transactions.

Triple Check for Spelling and Grammar Mistakes

In investment banking attention to detail is imperative: banks need to know that you can assemble presentations that will help them win clients, and those presentations must be 100% error free.

97% of hiring managers reject on the basis of 1 typo. You can’t afford to let this slip – proof, proof and proof it again.

Include a CFA Level 1 pass or long list of internships 

If you’re applying for an entry-level job in a bank, you’ll need to prove that you really, really want it. Candidates who successfully apply for banking jobs typically have multiple internships under their belts.

Candidates applying to banks are also increasingly equipped with a CFA Level I pass.  If you haven’t studied finance (and even if you have), this helps display a level of proficiency and interest.

Resume Tense – Past Or Present?

The main thing to focus on here is consistency. There are two options:

  1. Use past tense throughout the entire resume. The reasoning here is that your resume is a summary of everything you’ve done.
  2. Use past tense to describe past experiences and present tense to describe what you’re currently doing. The reasoning here is self-explanatory; past experiences use past tense while current experiences use present.

Both options are totally acceptable, which is why it’s up to you to choose which you prefer.

Hopefully these tips will help you! I feel that if you follow these guidelines, you will have an Investment Banking resume that you will be proud of and will help get you in the door to your new career.


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