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CV Clinic: Can I clinch a graduate banking job in Asia?

If you're looking for a graduate banking job in Hong Kong, you face formidable competition, not only from local Hong Kong nationals but from the mainland graduates that banks are hiring in increasing numbers. Banks in the city also say there's a shortage of graduates with excellent English (as well as Mandarin) language skills. Having a well-written English resume can therefore help you stand out in the crowded Hong Kong job market.

As part of our regular series, we've asked resume and recruitment experts to review the CV of a Hong Kong student who's set to graduate this summer and is looking for a middle-office job at an investment bank (his and his employers' names have been removed). Their advice highlights the pros and cons of his CV and also sheds light on how other Hong Kong students should be crafting their resumes.

CV review

Don’t overhype your big banking roles

“He’s interned with very recognisable organisations and has listed these placements in the right spot on the resume,” says Kate Reid, an associate director at recruiters Eximius Group in Hong Kong. “Importantly, he’s also not tried to make the roles sound more ‘sexy’ than they really were – an easy trap that a lot of other graduates fall into.”

Add a career goal statement

Reid says this candidate should add a two-sentence-maximum statement of career goals to their CV, aligned to the job they are applying for. “Make it punchy, not wishy-washy: this is why I want this job and this is the value I’ll bring to it.”

List qualitative and quantitative results

“The fact that he’s listed both qualitative and quantitative business results shows an understanding of the part he played in the tasks, as well as an intellectual curiosity to understand the rationale for the projects,” says Reid.

Get specific

Too many graduate CVs leave hiring managers confused as to what the candidate actually achieved during their internships – this one doesn’t. “I can see that he put a lot of thought in to the details of each job. Being specific about your work leaves an impression on the reader by putting your experience in the right context,” says Alex Wong, a Hong Kong-based graduate CV expert and careers coach.

But prioritise

Try to be more detailed about the internships that matter the most to your potential next employer. “Being specific is great, but because he tried too hard to be very clear about everything, the CV ended up losing focus slightly,” explains Wong. “His experience at the major European bank is the most relevant, recent, fruitful, and the longest, but the other jobs on the CV take up the same space.”

Don’t dwell on year-one

While the work experience you clocked up during your first year at university is worth mentioning, don’t overdo it. “I’ve seen far worse examples, but he’s reluctant to trim the less important insurance-internship section – he was there in year-one and the things that he did then are likely to be less impressive to employers. The database and analysis skills could have been covered off in other roles,” says Wong.

One-page works wonders

This CV is one page. [efc_twitter text="If you’re applying for a graduate banking job, your CV should also be one page"], say all our experts.

Forget the fluff

You may be up against other high-achieving, global-trotting graduates in your job search, but that doesn’t mean you should clog your CV with too many personal achievements in order to stand out. “Too many grads include irrelevant information that can distract an employer. By contrast, there’s no ‘fluff’ in this resume – which is great,” says Craig Brewer, a director at recruitment firm FiveTen Group in Singapore.

Show you’re a team player

When deciding which personal achievements to include – prioritise those that are likely to impress banks. “I like his ‘other information’ section highlighting the team-player experiences and the backpacking adventure,” says Brewer. “The human element is often the deciding factor if two job applicants cannot be separated by education or experience. In the end, people tend to hire the person they felt they had something in common with.”

Focus on finance

“Even the extracurricular activities in this CV are very finance focused. This illustrates a clear passion for the industry, which is potential X factor that will make this CV stand out,” says Brewer.

AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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