If you're going to get a job in banking, then you're going to need excellent qualifications. But you’ll also need a CV that can make it past banks' applicant tracking systems (ATS) that check for keywords and phrases to help HR pre-filter thousands of candidates down to a management number. This is an art in and of itself. If you're going to get past them, then you'll need these words on your CV.
Include terminology from the job posting you're applying to
“When we work with candidates in banking or hedge funds, the first thing we ask for is the job description of their ideal role so we can clearly capture the skills and experience in that person's background on their CV,” says Francis de la Cruz, the founder of The Write Resume and The Private Placement Group who has worked at UBS, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan and BlackRock. Don’t throw around keywords to the point that your resume is clunky, but make sure to include those to match a specific job posting, as long as you have the experience, of course.
Positioning is important
“Talk to a recruiter and write down the language that they’re using…and make sure that when you’re creating your resume, you’re putting your strengths and experience at the top where it aligns with their criteria,” advised one J.P. Morgan recruiter in a recent video post. You also want to keep your formatting simple so that ATS software can effectively scrape your CV. Some recruiters suggest removing any “objective” section from the top of your resume as that should be communicated through your cover letter anyway.
Include lingo that shows you know the industry
Candidates should search for job postings of similar roles across the industry and make notes of what keywords other similar roles are using.
"If everyone says 'analytics,' then don’t say 'analysis,'" says Jane Cranston, the president of ExecutiveCoachNY.com. "Every sector of every industry has its own lingo, and you have to sound fluent by using it in the right way so that the hiring manager says: 'This person gets it.'"
Include action verbs that illustrate your skills and achievements
The one thing you always want to clearly convey through your resume is your tool chest of analytical skills. Action verbs that suggest these skills include analyzed, assessed, synthesized, valued, quantified, calculated, audited, reconciled and priced, says Janet Raiffa, a former recruiting manager at Goldman Sachs who currently works as a career coach and resume reviewer.
But don’t just list your responsibilities. You should also strive to include clear, active and descriptive phrases in your CV that show tangible achievements. “We tend to favor words like ‘generated,’ ‘delivered’ or ‘achieved,’ followed by a succinct description of what was accomplished by that individual,” de la Cruz says.
When communicating past successes, use measurable numbers whenever possible. "Everything that can be enumerated or dollarized – that is, expressed in terms of numerals, percentages and dollars – should be," Cranston says.
Include positive performance evaluators
If you've worked for a large bank, then the hiring manager or recruiter knows that you’ve been through a number of performance reviews. You can thus differentiate yourself positively by showing top-quartile rankings or inclusion in programs for high-performers.
Keywords included mentions of rankings, ratings or terms like ‘selected for’ or ‘tapped for’ when mentioning performance-based programs.
“If you're a long-term banker sometimes just showing survival in down markets is impressive when others have lost jobs,” Raiffa says. “It thus makes sense to add words like ‘retained by’ and discuss the environment and the percentage retained if you know it.
“You’ll want to make sure to list all titles on your resume, not just your last title, and highlight if any promotion was fast or unusual,” she says.
When in doubt…
One thing you want to avoid is repeatedly using the same words. It suggests a lack of attention to detail. Rather than right-click and pick a synonym that doesn’t quite fit, check out our complete list of over 200 banking resume action words, separated by role and meaning.
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