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What NOT to include in your banking CV

We’ve spoken about what the perfect investment banking CV involves. We’ve told you what words to use in your resumes. People have put up their CVs for critique. Someone compared CV writing to a tinder profile. But now we’re answering a vital question: What am I doing wrong?

We spoke to spoke to Victoria McLean and Roy Cohen to find out what mistakes applicants are most likely to make when applying to some of the most in-demand roles in the world.

Victoria is the CEO of CityCV, an international careers consultancy based in London, and Roy is a New-York based careers coach and best-selling author.

You’re not making your CV financial enough.

“As a rule, broadly speaking, content unrelated to markets, finance, and economics are not very useful or relevant,” Victoria says. Don’t include “models” that aren’t relevant to your target role – or to financial services in general.

Your opinions about anything outside of finance are irrelevant, too. Your religious and political views have no business being on a finance CV, “nor extreme positions on anything that would make you appear intolerant or not open to difference. All banks are inclusive and multicultural, tolerance to other views is essential,” Victoria says.

It’s too long – or too short.

Brevity is worth mentioning. “When it comes to a CV, I always tell people, it’s got to be simple, it’s got to be short for Wall Street,” Roy says. “People who read resumes typically have short attention spans.”

Lists, Victoria says, won’t be read. “Bankers are busy.” Recruiters don’t have all the time in the world – you have to write tight. Something that could be seen as a waste of time will be skipped.

There’s an ideal middle ground, Roy says, no matter how junior or senior you are. “The idea is to hit the sweet spot - we're merging towards the middle. If you've had less, we want to build it out. If you've had more, we want to shrink it.”

You’re not making your CV focused enough.

“Stick to the facts and keep it lean,” Victoria says. “Avoid all hyperbole, self-aggrandisement… Be simple and to the point. The banks can see through superlatives and adjectives.”

Your school achievements also aren’t as important as you think. Unless you’re a junior in college (third year of university), or they’re directly relevant to your target competency area, you’re better off taking them off. “Only include achievements that clearly highlight [relevant] skills.”

You’re not selling yourself as a person.

Roy says that “everyone claims to have strong communication skills. What is it that you do to communicate that's better than somebody else? Bold, dynamic - words that people use are a big yawn, and it sounds like every other candidate.”

“If you sound like every other candidate, you’re not distinguishing yourself. If the whole point of sending a resume is to be selected out, then you can't use the same language that everyone else is using.”

Banks often want to work with interesting people – it’s not directly relevant to their ability to work on a deal, but it is relevant to the people you’re spending 80 hours a week with. They don’t want you to be boring – so don’t say you’re passionate about what everyone else is passionate about. “Almost everyone likes travel, food, and wine.”

You’re stretching the truth about something.

Banks know what interns do. They know what interns don’t do. “You didn’t originate or execute the deal, so don’t feel that you need to claim that you did,” Victoria says. “It’s okay to write about what you learnt and the skills you developed without feeling the need to claim that you were integral to the success of the transaction.”

Languages are another part of banking that are often exaggerated. Languages are useful – and banks are full of international employees who speak those languages fluently or natively. You will be tested on that language, perhaps at random. “If it’s not good enough for you to hold a client meeting in, it’s not good enough to go on the CV.”

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AUTHORZeno Toulon

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