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How to avoid looking like an idiot when applying for your first investment banking job

It’s happened again – an over-zealous Gordon Gekko wannabe has applied for an intern position at a bank, presenting himself as a new master of the universe and, once again, the recruitment team has leaked it out.

Here’s the CV in its entirety, courtesy of Dealbreaker. Aside from the obvious, let us break it down as to why this bold technique will never get you into an investment bank.

1. “Highly confident with a countenance and mindset that naturally demand respect.”

Really? Banks want strategic thinkers who can strut about the office demanding respect from their peers with their outstanding ideas? No, interns need to be deferential and willing to do whatever it takes. Be especially adept at fetching lunch orders.

Compare the bold approach of the last viral application from a student who ended up getting multiple job offers: “I have no qualms about fetching coffee, shining shoes or picking up laundry, and I will work for next to nothing.” Correct (except that the salaries are actually rather good).

2. “Excellent sight and hearing (20:15 vision).”

Way to impress the diversity team.

3. “Physically fit and mentally sound”.

Again, do you discriminate against people with mental health issues? Hello, HR.

4. Entrepreneurial mindset in that there is no limit to what can accomplished.”

OK, but can you follow instructions? Half the job of an intern is a willingness to take on tasks (no matter how menial), being accurate – no grammatical mistakes and an anal attention to detail over formatting – and trying to develop a rapport, within the boundaries of the hierarchy, with the people you’re being managed by. You’re not Richard Branson.

5. “For the past few years, I have been the shell of a person I knew I was intrinsically and needed to be. I was pursuing a career for which the sole motivation I had was to appease my parents.”

Ah, good, at last some deference to authority. Doesn’t exactly chime with point one, though, does it? What banks’ graduate recruiters want to see – more than ever a commitment to finance from the get-go. This screams a lack of decision-making and commitment.

6. “Medicine was neither my interest, nor congruent to my personality. Regurgitating information is not my style, even though I may be suited for it as well. I would much rather utilize my diverse social skills and my ability to get my way, regardless of the situation.”

Hold on, what exactly do you think junior bankers will be doing? Financial modelling is pretty much regurgitating information. It’s essentially crunching numbers and doing it accurately hour after hour. As one junior banker told us: “It’s an incredibly tough and unforgiving environment – mistakes are not tolerated – and that’s what catches most new joiners off guard, more than the long hours.” And these analysts are going to be telling you what to do during your internship.

What’s more, getting your way "regardless of the situation"? What if that situation is being handed a bundle of work at 5pm on Friday night when you have dinner plans.

7. “My goal is to one day become involved in hedge funds and my end game is to use the money and prestige I earn to ameliorate the world’s situation.”

OK – a) investment banks want to see people who will commit to the industry, not those already considering their exit options into hedge funds and b) never, ever mention money as a motivation.

8. “Member of a Tennis Club.”

Good, extra-curricular activities. Bad, not a team sport.

9. "I am pursuing a path towards and MBA."

Again, that attention to detail thing.

Related articles:

Six questions you should prepare to answer in any junior trading interview

When you get an investment banking internship, there’s a 33% chance you’ll screw it up

Investment banks offering graduates a second bite of the cherry as deal volumes pick up

AUTHORPaul Clarke

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