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The perfect CV for a career in trading

If anyone needs a highly polished CV these days, it's traders in investment banking. Juniors are taking over the trading floor, and even recent increases in revenues haven't resulted in much more recruitment. The traditional jump into a hedge fund is becoming tougher as more look to train their own staff and increasing numbers fold altogether.

As an experienced trader, you'll need to adapt your resume according to the products you've traded and the risk you've run. But as a junior in an investment bank, or trying to get into the industry, there are some simple rules to follow regardless of the desk you want to end up on.

1. The perfect trading CV must be no more than one-page in length

You’ll be up against thousands of applicants and if your CV makes it on to the desk of the trading team, they’ll want to be able to see the relevant points quickly.

“Traders have very limited time and even more limited attention spans,” says David Hesketh, COO of trading simulation platform TradingHub. “Keep it concise and relevant.  Good punchy sentences are much better than long emotive paragraphs.”

2. The perfect trading CV will highlight brand-name universities and relevant coursework

If you’re up for a trading job, there’s a strong chance that you will have studied maths, economics or physics at university. You will have done this at either an Ivy League or Russell Group University and will demonstrate impeccable academics from school through to your eventual graduation. This is the reality of the competition.

“Many of the bank recruitment teams work off a list of the best (top 20) universities and business schools. This makes a big difference,” says Victoria McLean, managing director of CityCV. “But you also need to highlight any coursework that was capital markets, statistical, financial model related, in addition to anything that demonstrates your knowledge (and understanding) of the macro environment. You should also highlight any projects coursework or modules for which you scored a particularly high grade – especially if you led the project team.”

Hesketh says that you need to highlight education most relevant to the type of trading job you’re applying for – an FX spot trader should “emphasise anything relating to central bank policies and inflation” whereas, say, structured credit trading candidates need to make the most of their analytical skills. “Good candidates would have natural science or maths degrees and show a keen interest in programming languages,” he says.

“Try to portray that you are at least in the top 10% academically,” says Peter Harrison, an ex-Goldman Sachs trader who now runs Harrison Careers. This, unfortunately for the majority, means a first class (or at least 2:1) degree or a GPA of 3.7-4.0.

3. The perfect trading CV will demonstrate revenue-generating capabilities

Like any investment banking job, the quickest route into a trading job is to intern with the division you’ll eventually end up in. In fact, these days graduates securing markets jobs usually have at least two internships under their belt. But getting directly relevant experience isn’t the only thing to emphasise.

“Highlight any client experience and your ability to generate revenue – this could be in any sector,” says McLean. “If you have worked in any revenue-creating or client-expansion capacity then try to lead with the outcome and think carefully about targets you have surpassed, budgets you were set and volumes. Think achievements! What was the result and what role did you play in achieving this? What kind of volumes of calls or clients or products were you dealing with?”

The work experience section of your resume should not just be crammed with as much relevant experience as possible – you need to emphasise an interest and capacity for trading as well as evidence of leadership and teamworking experience. You could have taken part in a trading simulation game or competition that shows your prowess, or been part of an investment society where you can demonstrate your trading ideas.

4. The perfect trading CV will suggest some trading ideas 

"Mention your three best trading ideas,” says Harrison. “For example ‘I would short Tesco – in two years its market value will half.’ or ‘I would go long oil with a $X target because demand will be rise to X million b/d by end 2017’. Or highlight a successful call - firms that you discovered were undervalued and recommended investing in based on long-term earnings growth, for example."

5. The perfect trading CV will show an ability to handle pressure

You’re not shouting across a trading floor anymore, but the job is still loaded with pressure and requires quick-thinking and an ability to handle decisions that don’t go well. At a graduate level, the best way to demonstrate this is through extra-curricular activities.

“Mention hobbies that demonstrate the criteria the banks are seeking – for example the banks like sportsmen – they want to hire individuals that are competitive, aggressive, confident, disciplined and importantly believe in themselves,” says McLean.

6. The perfect trading CV will mention poker 

Poker skills are a big plus, says Hesketh: “Games like poker also show traders that the candidate is good at estimating probabilities and multiple outcomes in a short space of time.”


Image: Getty Images

AUTHORPaul Clarke
  • an
    7 August 2016

    1) 100% correct.

    2) 75% correct. There are plenty of non-Ivy/Russell group unis that banks hire from as core/target schools - Stanford, UChicago and Duke to name a few, but there are probably another 10-15 that belong on the list, in addition to Ivies and Russell group. The recruitment circle is much more like 40-50 schools than 20 when you count New York and London offices.

    3) 100% correct.

    4) 100% INCORRECT. That is the exact opposite of good advice. Trading ideas are expected in interviews. CVs are to figure out WHO to interview - and the who in this case are explicitly not the nerdiest guys in the room who are codifying their trading ideas on their CV.

    5) 100% correct.

    6) Never heard of this one. I can't imagine it would hurt, but, it is far from standard advice, and is nowhere near the status of being essential to a CV in the way that the rest of this list (minus 4) is.

  • Om
    21 May 2016

    Really why do you think that?? I thought that the only thing that the banks should be looking for is your profit curve. I thought that should be the only thing :o

  • an
    17 May 2016

    Terrible advice

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