Module 1: Resumes
Live Resume Review
You’re about to step behind the scenes and see exactly how bankers judge resumes AND how they would write a perfect resume from start to finish.
This insight into the resume screening process will allow you to avoid the mistakes 90%+ of students make – and which ultimately see them miss out on interview invitations.
Plus the resume rewrite will give you all the insider tips you need to create an application that grabs bankers attention, impresses them in just seconds and makes them say “I have to interview this kid!”.
To illustrate the review process, we’ll be tearing apart a real student’s resume below (name and company names changed for privacy) and then rebuilding it back up from scratch.
And as we go through it we’ll explain in great detail exactly what we hate and love, and how it can be improved.
After you read the review below, make sure you 1) download the word doc of the finished resume (this will be your A+ resume template) and 2) apply every tip and trick below to your own resume.
The Original Resume
Hi Louis, before getting into the first round review, we just wanted to say well done!
You have amassed a terrific track record of achievements and most of all you have many A+ brand names on your resume.
For an aspiring intern, you have kicked ass!
Questions For You
Louis here’s a list of questions we’d love you to answer to ensure our rewrite is A+!!
- Do you have any awards, honors etc? PS not a big problem if you don’t
- Why did you include your school (St Pauls) on your resume? Is it very prestigious or well known? Normally we’d say no to high school listing, and instead use the extra room to wax lyrical about your much more recent and important achievements (National Rail, Pepe Black Shoes etc)
- Is your degree expected by May?
- Can we put the A-Levels and As-Level on the same line? Free up room for your impressive work and leadership experience.
RE National Rail
Great experience here Louis. Bankers in your home country will appreciate this! Just as a banker knows McKinsey rocks the consulting world, they’ll know National Rail rocks the engineering world.
But you haven’t talked about it as well as you could.
You need to get more specific, more focused on what you did, what you achieved etc.
For example, your work on local water mains…how did you measure/regulate them?
When you get more specific and say mention a software program for example, you make your achievements sound so much more real and believable. Wishy washy statements on the other hand like “responsible for…” won’t make bankers realize how impressive your work was.
Another example, say the “work into weekends” point…
..I get why you are making it (to show you can do the hours in banking), but the point is very hollow. It’s not an achievement, a tangible project, or anything specific. Just general commentary really. But the underlying quality is great. So let’s try communicate it in a different way.
Questions on National Rail
- What did you literally do there day to day?
- What did you specifically achieve over your summer there? Give us your top 5 achievements.
- How did you go about achieving these results? Get specific for us and we’ll work out how to boil it down into a potent and efficient brew!
- Note: load these answers with as many numbers ($, time, %, amounts etc) and specific details as possible – this is hugely important! Huggggely important!
RE Pepe Black Shoes
- Awesome experience!
- Did you co-found this 50-50? Because co-founder would stick out better than brand manager
- Would you describe your role as Head of Sales & Marketing? Because this salesy/business title sits better with S&T bankers than brand manager
- Normally we wouldn’t suggest an opening dot point outlining your day to day responsibilities/tasks, but it is worth it here as the experience is unique…can you possibly break out the roles you’ve written in point 2 and get more specific, eg managing finances can become “bookkeeping, liaising with our bank (Barclays) and accounts receivable” as an example. You’ve already done this well with say “writing interviews”; that’s nice and specific (less BS sounding).
- How much would you say the publicity in the book by Madden Inc guy will be worth? How many people might read it, say 20,000? Guestimates are fine here.
- And like with National Rail experience, can you just list out more metrics, $, amounts, tangible results achieved to date etc in your reply email to us. Eg when you say you did research…how much…what did you research…what tools did you use (databases, info services etc)…who did you speak to (scuttlebutt styles!)
- Do you have an exit plan for this company? I mean, bankers will want to know you are ready to take the leap into banking and won’t have one eye on this company. Bankers want ALL your attention, and then some…
RE Oxford University Equity Fund
I want us to scream this one out LOUDDDD!
It’s more important than your H&M experience because it’s more recent, more bankerish (that’s now officially a word) and just much more Baby Banker style!! It rocks, especially within the context of S&T.
So can you answer the following…
- What did you literally do there day to day?
- What did you specifically achieve?
- How did you go about achieving these results?
- Note: load these answers with as many numbers ($, time, %, amounts etc) and specific details as possible
- We really want you to talk about everything here; how much you invested, how much the fund was worth, how you guys valued & selected stocks (trading strategies etc), what sectors you went into/why etc. Go nuts in your reply email and once again we’ll pick out the goodness and make it shine.
RE Skills and interests
- Is your french conversational? For business?
- What basketball team are you in? eg Oxford University 2nd Division Basketball Team? And what’s your position?
- What campaign did you help with for Reporters Without Borders? And in what role? Eg Social Media Consultant for the Save Darfur campaign
- Why did you buy your property? What research did you do? Think like a banker here, and offer up some metrics, etc
- Can you give us locations for all your achievements?
Speed Read Test
(Aka ‘THE’ most important resume test)
8/10. Your resume can be deciphered in about 10 seconds. This is because you’ve got a smart lay out, good use of bolding and very strong dividing lines.
But (and this is a big but!!) there is so much room for improvement here.
As a banker receiving your resume, I’m ONLY going to look at about 5 things. Your school name, score, company names and at one or two of your EAs. And unfortunately the way you have sculpted this resume falls a little short here.
Obviously when we rewrite your resume from scratch you’ll see how it should be done in order to captivate and sell a banker within the 10 second window.
But for now, let me just give you an example.
Say your shoes business Pepe Black. On a speed read of your resume (and remember most bankers only give resumes a speed read) I wouldn’t realize how impressive this experience was. I’d be thinking ‘brand manager’, okay, and Pepe Black, never heard of it, what is it it, like a clothes store on the high street? I wouldn’t bother reading about it.
By contrast if you write “Co-Founder, Pepe Black Shoes” I would stop…dead…in…my…tracks. I would want to read that. And even if I didn’t, I’d still be left with a distinct impression of you.
I know this point we’ve just made may sound minor, but it’s so far from minor when you realize how bankers screen resumes. With say 100 resumes to go through in 30 minutes, bankers aren’t giving resumes much time to stand up and sell them.
So how you perform in a speed read test is essential. We’ll make sure your resume rocks at this!
What to Include vs Leave Out?
Amy emailed us with your comments on this topic, so we thought we would address it early on.
RE University Equity Fund & Property
There needs to be more emphasis on your University Equity Fund (and on your property buy). Period.
I say this with force, because apart from these 2 and your Economics study, there is almost nothing in your resume that screams “I want to be a banker, I have been wanting to do this for a long time and I have 100% relevant experience (finance)”.
You see, although banks love hiring engineers (truly!), they don’t like hiring engineers without anything suggesting passion or some experience (however minor).
Also, when we put emphasis on the UEF, that will include pushing it up into the “relevant experience” section, which we’ll rename “Work & Leadership Experience”.
RE Pepe Black Shoes
As for your own company, you already have more than enough.
When we rewrite this section of your resume we’ll actually trim it somewhat because you can communicate these points with much greater efficiency. PS when we tighten it up, you’ll see that less ‘conversational’ writing and more ‘business’ style writing will in fact magnify your achievements 10 fold.
On Banking & Entrepreneurship
Finally, I’ll just make a quick point here to you about starting up your own company and applying to banks.
Say I have just received your resume, and I’ve spent a few seconds reading about your company, do you know what I would be thinking?
Oooh, this student is in the middle of starting up a company. It looks like it is starting to make money. Some great press. Why the f**k would they want to give that up to come work 100 hours a week for an hourly rate of like freaking $12?!
Now you may have been thinking this as well, and maybe that’s why you wrote “Brand Manager” instead of “Co-Founder”.
But you might need to take a different approach to help clarify that this is a start up you’ve been involved in, but not one that’s of any competition to a banking job.
You could ease a bankers concern, by possibly stating July 2012-End 2016 or something that shows you have a time line in place for ending your involvement there due to starting graduate job.
And/or you could add onto the final part of the first dot point how you are due to finish up there End 2016 in anticipation of starting internship/grad job. Ie your exit strategy.
Probably the best idea will be for us to say something like “Transitioning to Chairperson May 2016” – or something…we’ll brainstorm this one.
The Little Things
This is when we lay out the things bankers actually care about…the little tiny no-one-else-cares-about-but-we-do things on your resume.
These are the oh so minor points that students rarely think about, but which bankers spot from a mile away and which they can justify throwing a resume in the bin for.
If you have heard bankers are anal/OCD, wait till you read the following pointers.
PS don’t forget we will be fixing all of this up ourselves when we rewrite your resume. So this is more about showing you what’s going on and explaining why, rather than anything else. Enjoy!
Stuff That Isn’t Quite Up To Scratch
- Name is a bit small
- Use “telephone” as if bankers need help deciphering what +44…. Would be. I mean it’s just symptomatic of inefficient writing. But it’s not a big one. The thing more annoying about it is that you use it for your number, but then not for your email, eg Email: louis@…. Consistency is key in banking. Interns and analysts can spend an entire night poring over a pitch book to see whether the footer font is consistent in sizing, typeface, spacing, etc across 100 slides! Welcome to the land of nuts!
- 3 lines for your contact details, when 2 or even 1 could have done…and trust me, 1 is enough
- Divider lines are too thick (annoying clutter / attention getting for wrong reason)
- Divider line above education and below EAs unnecessary (clutter)
- Capitalization of “EDUCATION” but no corresponding capitalization of the other two sections – once again inconsistencies that stick out to bankers
- Student year level comes before school name – it looks sloppy and is an incorrect ordering
- Details about schooling between 2003-2012 included (keep only if it’s a very prestigious school)
- Line spacing for work experiences is too fat, such that it makes the lines and paragraphs almost indistinguishable…hard to read and ugly (pitch book crime!), and why is there a different paragraph spacing after Site Engineer heading, compared to Bran managers and store assistant headings?
- Position for work comes before company name – no good, because company name (the brand name if you will) is what bankers want to see first…eg an intern at Goldman Sachs is more respected than an associate at Bucktooth Joes Investment Bank
- Capitalization of company names – it’s good to draw attention, but capital letters are too ‘in your face’ and look ugly…if you really want to draw attention to them we can bold them. But I don’t think it is necessary, because you already have enough brand names popping.
- Style of writing is too conversational…far too conversational. If you were applying for a marketing gig at Procter & Gamble, fine. But in banking lines like “I have a strong interest…” on a resume are deadly mistakes.
- Descriptive words like “significant” or “very” are used – you need to be much more specific and metric driven. Eg instead of “significant” you say “4 months” – this sounds less BS and sticks out to drive the point home.
- Dates – most are abbreviations eg Dec, but then there is that “June” (ie full spelling) sticking out…inconsistencies like these can enrage even the most relaxed banker because they show a lack of attention to detail (this being the #1 skill junior bankers need to have)
- Location is missing for all your work experience spots
- Starting EA dot points like you were talking to someone at the pub
- Generally bloated writing – needs to be much more efficient. Naturally, we’ll take care of all of this for you Louis
- Generally lack of enough metrics – $, %, fold, amounts etc. These are so essential Louis if you are going to be able to catch the bankers eye and make your rocking achievements comprehensible within seconds!! And the thing is you have nailed it in some sections already, eg H&M store theft system “8%”…your resume is very good…let’s keep going and make it freaking great!!
- Far too general descriptions, that come off sounding like you achieved nothing other than showing up; eg “I have been involved in charity work…”…What did you actually do? What results did you achieve? Which countries did you campaign for? What campaign in particular? Etc etc
- “References available on request” is there – it’s not necessary, every banker knows this and they will ask for them at a later stage in the recruiting process when you make it there
- Justified formatting – the inconsistent and often very wide spacings this leaves between words is a no go. It’s okay for newspapers with thin column text, but not on a banking resume.
- Squashed sections – some sections are loosely spaced (eg work) and then others are cramped to the point of gasping for air (eg EAs)…we need to make this all consistent
- Big spacing between say the Pepe Black Shoes and H&M experience, but then end of H&M is jammed right up against EAs
- The line spacing of your dot points under work experience differ to line spacing in EAs section, and worse line spacing differs between your first 2 H&M dot points and your 3rd H&M dot point. Consistency is our goal. And well as superficial bankers hellbent on presentation perfection, beautiful design is also our goal.
- Page margins are slightly too small at top/bottom, and perhaps underused when it comes to the sides. It can look better.
- Poor grammar at points, eg “leading us to regularly surpassing our targets” or eg “at a time where”
- Poo poo commentary, eg “as well as work alongside likeminded individuals”, or “in order to improve my conversational abilities”
The Classic Before Shot
The Beautiful After Shot
In v Out
Thanks for answering our questions with so much detail.
As you can imagine we are only able to include the highlights in your resume and we are looking to showcase your results here, moreso than day to day activities. That should explain why certain things are in and others out.
But probably the most important thing you’ll notice above, is that we’ve shaped your achievements as much as possible to ‘talk’ to Sales & Trading, your preferred destination. ie to impress quant nut jobs!
You can see we’ve made an engineering internship sound closer to a banking internship than before…same tools, analytical approach, etc as a good lil banking intern.
H&M is completely gone because it is an old experience and not a particularly interesting or relevant one – especially when compared to your OUEF experience!
I should explain why we took your school out.
The answer is simple…not enough room. And compared to the other achievements here it doesn’t stack up. At your age bankers will judge your smarts based on your university, scores and work experience. And trust us, they can see your smarts standing out with this resume! (You’ve racked up a nice record).
On the EAs section
In your EAs section you’ll see the Reporters Without Borders experience is out – because no results, seems like you may have gone to one meeting and that’s it, and well it sounds so freaking cliche.
Finally, no room really for your CFD EA – I read your email, but it is a very minor point compared to say your property buy. And you already have so much ‘I love banking’ stuff now going on in your resume.
You need to use this section of your resume to convey a little information about YOU, about your personality.
Download the Word Doc Version
Now you’ve seen the resume review process unfold from start to finish, its time to take action.
You can download the editable word version of the beautiful “After” Resume here. Start copying and pasting within seconds!
Use this Word Doc to easily copy and paste from the A+ Sample Resume immediately above. This is the smartest and most efficient way to craft a killer banking resume today.