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Looking for banking CV advice? Our banking resume experts offer one M&A banker recommendations on how to improve his CV and get a job in private equity.

Banking CV Clinic: Can I leave my M&A boutique and join a private equity firm?

Banking resume advice

From now on, we will be running semi-regular 'CV Clinics' in which we ask our top CV doctors to give their verdicts on whether your resume will get you the job you want in financial services.

This week, we’re dissecting the resume of a London-based senior M&A analyst at a boutique M&A advisory house. He wants to get out and work on the buy-side (in a private equity fund or hedge fund), or in a corporate development role. You can see a copy of his resume if you click the following link: 'CV review buyside analyst.' We’ve also embedded a copy in the article below.

Will this resume get its owner the kind of job he wants? We asked three resume experts: Peter Harrison at Harrison Careers, Victoria McLean at City CV, and Claire Crichton at RésuméRebrand.

Their opinions and advice are below. Do you agree with them? Leave your comments and advice for the resume’s owner at the bottom of this article.

M&A CV aa

M&A CV b

M&A CV c

Peter Harrison’s verdict: 

Badly presented resume. An accomplished ACA who has some good work experience. The boutique you're at looks great but why leave after 6 months? Something must be wrong. Nothing else impresses me and the university [name deleted from CV] is a big negative. We will not rush to interview him - put into the pending pile and see what other candidates we get.

This guy needs a professional re-write. Insert impressive achievements. Insert other data to reveal something of his character. If you can’t present yourself in an impressive way, we don’t think you will present the work you do for us well.

Victoria McLean’s verdict:

  • You have some strong experience with the Big Four accounting firm, which is great, although I am not clear as to why you moved or why you are seeking to move on from the boutique so soon.
  • Most organisations and recruitment agencies will store your CV on an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).They cannot read tables and your content and key words are currently in a table. If the system can’t read your data then your CV won’t even be read by a human being. It’s essential that you reformat and remove the table before you send this out.
  • In your profile you mention ‘investment vacations’ – we are not familiar with this, you might want to expand or explain or rephrase?
  • I found this a little tricky as not clear what specific role is actually being targeted within the buy-side so difficult to do a proper analysis in relation to target role. Overall, if seeking a role in asset management or PE, think carefully about the types of things you will be doing in this role and the key words the reader will be seeking. For example, will ‘due diligence’ be part of your new role? If so then you should mention it in your CV – it isn’t there at the moment. Could your new role involve any client contact? If so then you should mention relationships and client successes – you touch on client contact but could expand this into more of an achievement / result (i.e. – what client relationships did you build, were there any challenges and how did these impact the bottom line?)
  • Profile – you use the words motivated, passionate, responsible which are vague and generic – and very graduate-like – this is the type of thing that 90% of grads would write in their CV, but you are six years into your career and don’t want to be perceived as junior. The profile needs to be more commercially-focused and positioned towards what you can deliver, and more importantly, what you have delivered in the past – think ‘bottom line’. Be more specific in terms of what you are actually looking for. Remove the personal interests section from the profile – it doesn’t add anything at this point. The profile should be reserved for powerful statements and info that will persuade the hirer/recruiter that you could be a valuable hire and that they should read on…
  • Professional Experience – this has a lot of the right info in it but is really lacking in any tangible achievements. You need to think more in terms of the detail of what you actually delivered and any challenges you faced – how did you overcome them? Ideally each bullet point should be an achievement rather than a task. This whole section currently is too descriptive and too tasked-based. It could definitely be improved in terms of writing style: there is an over-use of words like involved in, supported, worked on, assisted on. It would help to think more in terms of what YOU actually did and the impact of your actions – how have you directly affected the project/transaction/business? How did you add value? This whole section really needs to be more focused on the commercials. More detail would help too – could you expand further on what types of models (think about key words here) and even if you can’t provide info on the names of the companies involved, can you provide more detail around each transaction and  the scope and scale of the project - the more specific you can be in terms of numbers (size etc), the more the reader will understand the context and how it is relevant to your target position.
  • You mentioned use of specialist auditing tools – what were they? What other technologies have you used?

Claire Crichton’s verdict:


You scored 0. Given a potential score of 25, there is scope for significant improvement by making what you have done sound much more impressive.

Work Experience

You scored 15. Given a potential score of 20, this is something you can improve (a) by getting more and better experience and (b) by describing the work experience you have had in a more impressive way, so that it sells your skills more effectively.


You gave yourself a grade of 2 out of 6. There is no excuse for not scoring maximum marks here. Cosmetics are easy to fix.

Other Data

You gave yourself a grade of 1 out of 5. The purpose of this section is to make a recruiter pick up your résumé, read the Other Data section and say to himself 'Cool - I'd like to meet this person!' Anything less than a 5 just isn't good enough.


Related articles:

Banking resume clinic: What are my chances of getting a business analyst job in private equity or hedge funds?

Twenty skills to list on your banking CV if you want a job now

Recruiters confess the real reasons they ignore your resume




AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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