Whilst many people are dismissive of investment banking cover letters, investment banking CVs carry some weight. Cheesy analogy ahoy, but your CV and cover letter/application form is your pitch book to convince the investment bank to interview you.
Everything in your CV and cover letter should be directed towards showing the investment bank why they’d be mad not to hire you.
Important though an investment banking CV may be, a recruiter will only spend on average around 30 seconds reading it. Your CV needs to snappy and well turned out.
It should be tailored to the investment bank and the position you are applying for, indicating the area of investment banking that you are interested in.
What the investment banks are looking for…
Perhaps the best thing you can keep in mind is that whilst your CV is about you, your audience is viewing your CV thinking about what you can do for them. The recruiter will have a wish list of attributes or competencies that they are looking for and they’ll be measuring your CV against whether they satisfy those.
Through researching the bank, the role and scrutinising the job advert/recruitment website, you should build up a picture of the qualities and competencies they are looking for.
Here are some of the skills/qualities an investment banker might need:
– A high degree of financial literacy: you should know the financial industry inside out, know exactly what an investment banker does and have an idea of what area of investment banking you are interested in.
– Attention to detail: it might sound like a minor point, but attention to detail is a huge part of a junior analyst’s role, or rather a lack of attention to detail can be catastrophic.
– Communication skills: it’s important you are able to demonstrate written and communication skills essential for investment banking. It’s a service industry, investment bankers are essentially agents, so when it comes to putting together pitches and working on deals, good communication skills are paramount.
– For the very same reason, interpersonal skills are crucial, particularly for the client-facing front office.
– Numeracy: it goes without saying…
– Initiative: ditto.
– Team work and leadership skills: you might think that these are contradictory, but investment banks aren’t just looking for the leaders of the future. You need to show them that you can work well in a team.
– Ability to work in high pressurised environment and, hand in hand with that, the stamina to work long hours.
Whilst you might be more concerned with what you are going to put in your investment banking CV, carefully and clearly formatting your CV is hugely important. After all, like it or not, formatting documents will be part of your role as an analyst.
You’ll need to use headings and subheadings to separate out your sections of your investment banking CV, such as education, work experience, activities and interests.
Use bullet points and italics or bold to divide up your text and draw attention to certain parts of the CV. Make sure you use the same font throughout (and that it is a readable font on screen as well as on paper, e.g. use a sans serif font like Helvetica or Verdana). Your formatting should be consistent: from the size and style of your headings, to the way you write dates.
Remember, attention to detail is a quality much desired in investment banking analysts. So ensure you’ve formatted it correctly and scoured your investment banking CV for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, inconsistent dates, and typos.
Structuring your CV…
There are two popular ways of structuring a CV: the most popular is a traditional chronological format, the other is a skills based CV. Generally, for those with little work experience, a chronological CV is recommended.
On the top of your investment banking CV should be your full name, address, telephone number and email. Use a professional sounding email address, e.g. email@example.com, not firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is optional; many decide to save space and forgo a personal profile. If you are sending in a speculative CV, it might be worth having a personal statement, but again, it’s not essential. If you do decide to include a personal statement, keep it very brief. You might use it to outline your career aims or draw attention to your academic/practical experience strengths.
Please no generic: “I have great communication skills”, say something unique about yourself that is relevant to the position and area of investment banking you are interested in.
If you are applying for a graduate position or internship, you might want to put your education first. Strong academics is important for investment banking, so in your CV you’ll want to put a lot of emphasis on your degree and academic achievements, and perhaps very briefly mention your A-level results. For example:
2009-2012 University of , BA (Hons) Economics (2:1)
Here you might want to mention modules/coursework you’ve completed that are particularly relevant. You should mention academic highlights, such as awards you’ve received. If you haven’t graduated yet, include your grades from your first and second years. You might also want to include your A-level results.
Here you should mention all your work experience and internships. Don’t dismiss jobs such as bar work. They show work experience. Keep them in, unless you did them absolutely ages ago and they are completely irrelevant.
Pick out the skills you learned on the job or during the internship which are relevant to investment banking and use examples to illustrate them. It should sound like you were proactively involved in the company.
Focus on results, what did you do that yielded a positive outcome for company? For example, “I streamlined xyz process to increase productivity by 25%” or “I was in charge of marketing for the graduate ball. I managed a successful social media-focused campaign, selling 35% more tickets than the previous year.”
Remember to still keep this section relatively concise: use bullet points to break up text and if you can’t make something relevant, leave it out. You might want to think about using CV buzz words to make a real impact.
Skills, activities and interests…
Academic achievement is hugely important for recruiters, but they also want to see that you are a well-rounded individual and you can juggle other commitments whilst attaining top grades.
Here’s the place to showcase your extracurricular work, whether that’s involvement with university societies, playing sports or volunteering.
Many investment banks look for those with a command of another language, so mention any language skills, for example, if you’re fluent in German and conversational in French. You make reference to any technical skills, such as programming languages or computer based skills relevant to the role.
Finally, you might want to mention any finance relevant certifications and training, perhaps a few interests. Pick out interests that make you sound interesting and someone they would like to work with. You can use this section to demonstrate attractive qualities that are relevant to the role (such as keen interest in a variety of things or team leadership). If you decide to include it, this section should be very brief.
It’s really worth spending a little bit of time on your CV. Flash it around. Show it to friends, industry contacts, and your university career service to get their feedback. You might find yourself working through numerous drafts of your CV before you are completely happy with the format and the content.