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The art of the finance CV in a crowded market

If you're looking for a new banking job in 2023, you won't be alone. There are already thousands of people on the Street, people from Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, Nomura and BNY Mellon, and their numbers are only likely to swell further in the next few months. 

When you're assembling a banking CV now, therefore, it will need to be special. At the end of last year, there were over three new people chasing each new finance job in London. In 2023 that ratio is likely to move, and not in a direction that's good for candidates. 

There's no difference between putting a banking resume together for a market that's full of jobs and for a market that's full of people, says Mary DeLuca, a New York-based finance resume specialist. It's just that in a candidate-heavy market, your resume will need to be even better than usual. 

What makes a good finance resume? "It should highlight achievements and immediate value offered," says DeLuca. "Quantified results," are the differentiators between the CVs of people who get hired and people who don't, she adds: it's not only about what you do, but how well you do it.  

In other words, don't talk about what you did, talk about what you achieved. Focus on the achievements that were the result of your own actions, and if you're applying for a job in a different area, DeLuca says you should specify your areas of expertise and how they overlap with the area you're applying to. In a market where banks are cutting costs to match lower revenues in some areas (eg. M&A and capital markets), stress how you can either add to the top line or takeaway from the bottom (or both). 

Make your banking resume results-based, not tasked-based

A CV that stresses what you achieved is task-based. Both senior bankers and HR managers want the same thing from resumes, says Lisa Tyshchenko, a career consultant for millennials and resume writing coaching. "They all say that they want to see achievements and results on CVs," she says.

CVs that simply list the tasks you fulfilled are meaningless. - Hiring managers already know the tasks associated with jobs. "You could be perceived as a 'doer' instead of an 'achiever,'" says Tyshchenko. "Employers want to know about your previous contributions and how they've helped make a difference. They want to know HOW you will make a difference at their company. Companies need to see high achievers and not just 'good employees.'" 

Use action verbs

High achievers don't use generic and insipid words. Tyshchenko says you should avoid words like "conducted", "helped" and "worked" because they're too boring.  You need words with energy. 

This is the wrong way to write a phrase in your CV, says Tyshchenko:

“Organized data in a database to help maintaining and getting new contracts from clients”.

And this is the right way:

“Developed internal databases for 50+ clients to maintain contract negotiations, resulting in a 13% increase in demand to $5M a year.”

"Developed" is an action verb. "Developing internal databases" is a hard skill.  And 13% and $5m are quantifiable results.

The six-second rule 

When candidates proliferate, recruiters will have even less time than usual to look at CVs. As well as highlighting your achievements, your resume therefore needs to be easy to digest.

Banking CVs need to be concise and informative rather than innovative and different. "During a downmarket, people will be looking at your CV for around six seconds," says Tyshchenko. 

Remember that your resume is primarily a marketing document, says DeLuca. It's looked at only briefly and it, "must deliver enough information to prompt further consideration."

Yes to the executive summary

Aside from quantified achievements, what else should go into your finance CV? This will depend partly upon the area you're applying to. In M&A, for example, you'll need to append a deal list, including a synopsis of the deals you've worked on and the fees they generated for the firm. 

Resumes also have points of commonality, though. In a difficult market, an executive summary at the top of the resume can be helpful, says De Luca. This summary should tell the reader, "who you are, what you do, how long you have been doing it, and how well you do it." 

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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