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CV Review: Help! Am I good enough to get a job in banking compliance?

CV First Aid

In this week's CV Review, we've asked our resume doctors to look at analyse the credentials of someone who's studied law and wants to work in a regulatory role in financial services.

Needless to say, compliance and regulation are both hot hiring areas. Only today, Deutsche Bank said it intends to hire hundreds more 'control' staff in 2015. This doesn't mean that financial services regulation is an easy area to get into, however.

As usual, our reviewers are Victoria McLean at City CV, Peter Harrison at Harrison Careers, and Iain Beaumont of Interview My CV.  We've embedded a copy of the CV below and have added our reviewers' comments below that. If you're looking for a job in financial services regulation, this is what you need to know.

The CV:

Law CV 1

Law CV 2

Law CV 3

Iain Beaumont’s verdict: 

Personal statement: A clear statement but the context is better suited to a covering letter / introductory email.  My recommendation is to condense your personal statement into a pithy paragraph that brings out your key skills that are tailored to the job you are applying for.

Key skills: Bring this section further up the CV and really highlight what you can offer an employer.  Give more details regarding your standard of German (written, conversational, fluent etc).

Education:  Strong university background but as a graduate / post graduate you will be expected to give your A-Levels (or similar) to show your true competencies through earlier education.  Remove non-relevant information such as your catering qualifications if applying for a compliance role with an IB, they will likely see it as wasted space on your CV.

Work experience:  Good relevant experience but as with your qualifications I recommend removing your non-specific/non-relevant experience.  In addition give further information as to what you achieved with the companies that you worked for as that will give a clearer indication to the reader as to what you are capable of delivering.

Hobbies and interests:  Good, well rounded and relevant.  Look to reduce the padding and keep the explanation brief and concise; an employer will only scan over this section and will appreciate brevity.

Layout and aesthetics:  Not the easiest to read and nothing jumps out to impress. A reader will only spend between 6-10 seconds on average looking over your CV and therefore it need to be visually clearer.  First impressions are absolutely vital. Besides eliminating any inconsistencies in formatting we work hard to carefully control the use of white space, presenting a client's information clearly and comprehensively.  Further to this, I recommend doing a comprehensive review to get what you have spread over two pages to fit just one page (a perfectly acceptable size for a graduate CV).

Victoria McLean's verdict:

An interesting CV. I see you graduated in 2013 as a mature student, but I am not sure what you have been doing since then in terms of relevant experience. You will struggle to secure a role in compliance with this CV, which is a shame as you have clearly studied hard to get to this point. Hopefully the tips below will go some way to improving things for you – you need to focus on banking/finance/legal/compliance expertise (and passion) as much as you can. At this stage your CV does not do you justice.

It is not clear if you are applying for a graduate post or an experienced hire post. Either way, your CV needs to be significantly shorter. You should cut it to one page only.

Undertake research on the ‘key words’ required for a banking compliance role and pepper your CV with this terminology at every stage, from the profile through to your professional experience. Your writing style is very descriptive so tighten it up, lose the narrative and the pronouns, and use shorter, punchier sentences that tell the reader about your successes.


Your profile contains some very long sentences and is grammatically incorrect. I think the word ‘work’ towards the end of the paragraph should be ‘would’? Replace this profile with three bullet points (one or two lines each maximum) that succinctly summarise you (the fact this is a career transition), your value-add, your relevant knowledge and your USP (what sets you apart from the other applicants). The recruiter may not get further than this section so you need to ensure it ‘sells’ you in the best possible light. And don’t forget to proof read it.


This section should be for your academic successes only. Any information about being student rep or treasurer should be moved to the ‘Activities & Interests’ section. Overall, this section is too descriptive. It is hard for the reader to see the wood for the trees. You don’t need to say “final grade classification”, just write “2.1”.  Instead of “My elected units are Law of Finance and Foreign Investments in Emerging Economies, Regulation of Financial Markets and Medical Jurisprudence.” Try this:

  • ‘Relevant modules: Law of Finance & Foreign Investments in Emerging Economies; Regulation of Financial Markets.

Professional Experience

Rethink your bullet points. Firstly there is no context. What do these organisations do? How big are they? Who are their clients? What types of people are you dealing with?

You have listed your responsibilities, which reflect what you did each day. These need more depth. “Responsible for the projects financial elements” doesn’t tell the reader anything about what you actually did, what the projects were or how you were involved. ‘Big Voice’ is under ‘Relevant Experience’ but I can’t see from the information provided why it is relevant to a role in compliance.

For each of the roles within this section you need to bring depth to your bullet points, so try to spin each bullet point into an achievement rather than a responsibility. Then review compliance key words and try to include them within your content. It will make much more interesting reading and should trigger a more positive response from the recruiter.

Think about the competencies the grad / compliance recruiters will be seeking. Have you exhibited them throughout your CV? Ideally they should be demonstrated in every section.

Other Work Experience

You may consider including some successes / achievements in this section – if you were successful then it is worth shouting about. Focus again on the competencies being sought and try to relate your achievements to the compliance role if possible.

Skills Gained, Other Training, Skills

I would ditch these sections completely – they don’t add anything and aren’t targeted to compliance.

Activities & Interests

Founding the uni Law Society is great – can you distil this and what you achieved to one or two lines. Ditto for the coaching (also great).

Focus on your extracurricular finance and investment activities – lead with these and expand on them as much as you can. What kind of investing? What is your ROI?

I hope this helps – good luck!

Peter Harrison's verdict 

I'm afraid that I do not like his “Profile” with all its HR-speak. Unfortunately, the work experience is also not that relevant to compliance. The resume is weak cosmetically. The listing of training and activities means little. However, he knows Dodd-Frank, which is good if he wants to work in compliance. The postgraduate university is decent and the dissertation on the Lehman collapse is relevant, but the undergraduate university is not great. That, combined with no disclosure of (clearly weak) academics means a bank is likely to reject this candidate and read no further. Sorry!

AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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