6 rules for creating the CV that will get you a first job in an investment bank
If you want to get an internship or a first full-time job in finance, your CV will need to be exemplary. You need to think about a CV as a photo taken by a professional photographer. It only shows the parts of you which are the most attractive to the viewer. This is what to include.
1. Personal information
Only include your last and first name (same font size as the titles of your CV), email and phone number using the international format (e.g. +33 6 12 34 56 68 for French cellphone).
Don’t include a photo. Don’t include your age. Don’t include your mailing address.
Provide the name and location for each of your schools. If your school is not well known, provide its ranking from a reputable provider (eg. The FT, the QS ranking.) This line should be in bold. The line below giving the title of your diploma should be italics. Only include the year of beginning and end of study (not the months).
With regards to your current school, do not preface it with “current” but write down the year of end of study. Banks need this so that they can establish which intern programs you’re eligible to apply to.
Below the title of your degree, indicate your GPA and - more importantly your ranking if you have it. Put this in brackets after your GPA. Eg. (Top 5%). Also indicate if you belong to the “Dean’s list”.
Below the GPA, you can mention courses you’ve taken that are relevant to investment banking. However, only include 3-4 max.
At the end of this section, include any other qualifications like the CFA. Only mention GMAT if your score is stellar.
3. Work Experience
For each internship, start with the name of the company on the first line, in bold. If the company is not well known, add in the sector it works for and the size of the business (eg. Employees, revenues). Add the month your internship started and the number of months it ran for.
On a second line, add your job title in italics. Eg. M&A intern. This doesn’t have to be your exact title as an intern, but a title which will explain what you did succinctly to someone reading your CV.
Add the country location on the far right. You do not need to put country and city.
Below these two first lines, only include achievement-based bullet points. – You do not want a job description, a recruiter wants to know what you achieved personally, not a general description of your role.
• Use action verbs in the past tense only.
• Each bullet points should be a maximum of 1.5 lines (ideally only 1 line).
• Use the STAR method to fill in each bullet point. Each point should explain which skill you proved.
• job description (i.e. the recruiter wants to read what you have specifically done and not a general description of the role)
• You can include more bullet points for more relevant and/or recent experience
4. Extra-curricular experience
This section can also be called “additional Information,” or, “extra-curricular activities” and/or, “leadership experience.”
The structure of this section should be the same as for work experience. Instead, of company name, give the name of the association you’ve been involved with. Then specify the size (e.g. budget, number of students involved) and the area in which the association is involved.
Only include experiences where you had an active role (e.g. VP communication, President). Don’t say you were a “member of the finance club;” it does not show any real involvement.
5. Language & IT skills
Keep it simple. Provide one line listing languages in which you are either native, fluent, or intermediate (write the level of proficiency in brackets). Remember that you may be tested in interviews.
Add any programming languages relevant to the position you are applying for. Do not mention here the fact that you know how to use Datastream, Factset or any other database – it only takes a few hours to know how to use them.
Recruiters want to know whether you are a person with whom they would like to work. You need to show you can talk about things other than finance, and that you are a « fun » person to work with.
Recruiters want to see that you’re interesting. They also want to see that your competitive and resilient. For every sport, activity you mention, put in brackets the length of practice and the length of competition if relevant.
Ferdinand Petra is affiliate professor of Finance at HEC Paris and a former banker at Barclays and J.P. Morgan. Ferdinand-Petra.com.
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