How to highlight your M&A deal experience on a resume without overkill

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If you’re an M&A banker is the best strategy to keep your resume as concise as possible or to pile in as much information on your deal experience as you possibly can? Actually, if you go too far in either direction, it could harm your application.

Donna Svei, an executive resume writer, interview coach and retained search consultant, recommends talking about deal highlights by picking two or three per job to feature on your resume as accomplishments. Another alternative is to feature a one-page "deal sheet" as an addendum.

“It’s important to understand that the resume is an implicit way to demonstrate that you can separate what's most important in a situation from what isn’t,” Svei said. “Pick the deals likely to be most interesting to your readers and feature those. Describe the client, the situation, your role on the deal and the outcome in two or three lines and without disclosing proprietary or confidential information.”

No more than two pages

Analysts, associates and recent VPs with around five years’ experience or less, the guideline is submitting a one-page resume, but for experienced investment bankers, either a management level or even an individual contributor with six or more years of experience, the resume should be two pages – no more, no less, according to Roseanne Donohue, an executive recruiter, resume writer and career coach who worked previously at J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup.

“I recommend not going over two pages – for an experienced person, either more or less than two pages could hurt them,” Donohue said.

For working bankers with a number of completed transactions, a deal sheet can be included with a resume, but make sure that you have enough information to present a deal sheet that isn't skimpy, said Janet Raiffa, investment banking career coach, the former head of campus recruiting at Goldman Sachs and the former associate director in the Career Management Center at Columbia Business School.

“If you only have a few deals worth talking about, or that you feel comfortable addressing, it's better to list them in the body of a resume,” she said.

Make it relevant

If you’re revising your resume specifically for one target position, then your bullets need to be your quantifiable achievements tailored to the job you’re applying for.

“If the job description calls for a specific type of deal, industry, sector or vertical experience, highlight relevant experience first, as well as examples of the best deals you’ve worked on where you had the most impact or helped to generate the most revenue,” Donohue said. “You want to showcase your most recent experience

“If you have 15 or 20 years of experience, you don’t have to list every deal you’ve worked on and every task related to each one – maybe only include a couple of examples from early positions, because hiring managers tend to look at what you’ve done more recently,” she said. “Reduce earlier positions and cut down on the details related to those.

“In fact, for some roles, depending on how long ago they were, you might not need any bullets at all – you may just need to include the company names and start/end dates.”

While it’s important to not go over the two-page limit for your resume, experienced investment bankers can come to interview bringing a hard-copy portfolio of work samples. That can be a good opportunity to showcase more work that you’ve done on various deals without clogging your resume with too much information.

While certain deals may be confidential, you can scrub out client name while still showcasing relevant samples of your work.

“This approach allows you to elaborate in a more detailed way to showcase what you’ve done,” Donohue said.

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