MODULE 5: STRATEGY
All those years ago when we were hauling ass through some serious recruiting clusterfucks, we always felt overwhelmed.
And no matter how much whiskey straight up, the gnawing anxiety remained.
Why? Why the heck would a bunch of guys who knew more about recruiting than any other student, be anxious?
The answer…Information overload and it’s close cousin paralysis by analysis. Meaning, we were never quite sure what to do, what we had done or what was coming up.
So here’s the 80-20 actions checklist – the list we wish we had all those years ago!
It outlines all the things you have to do to get recruited into IB; from the very first thing (resume writing) to the last (hauling ass through your internship), it’s all here.
- Put down the pen. The very first action you need to take with your resume involves reading…reading the Live Resume Review Coaching Feedback tutorial that is. By studying this ‘before and after’ module, along with the detailed scrutiny of the original resume and subsequent feedback, you are going to get an MBA in banking resumes. Literally. You will know all the mistakes to avoid and exactly what little things impress bankers to no end.
- After that, download the sample resumes. Don’t try and create your own resume from scratch. Get these templates. They are formatted perfectly, from the typography to the paragraph spacing to the amount of text dedicated to each section. Armed with these you will create a world class investment banking resume in the next hour!
- But before you start editing these perfect resume templates, open up a blank word document. You are going to write like crazy in this word doc about your education, work experience and interests/activities. Long winded is the idea…a full outpouring of info. We want to capture all the info here. So think long and hard.
- Go to your 2000-3000 word document next and start 80-20ing your education notes. What are the highlights? Degree, grades, awards, relevant coursework etc. Work it out and fill in the template resume accordingly.
- When working out your GPA – both cum GPA and major GPA – don’t be afraid to round a little. Don’t get crazy though!
- Next, select your 3 big work experiences; one can be a leadership role at college if need be. And hey, a good college leadership experience kills some 2-bit internship you did 3 years ago. So yeah 2 work experiences + 1 college role = perfecto.
- Determine the 3 biggest results you achieved for each work experience and calculate some metrics to make them each sing, whether that’s dollars, time, percentage, whatever! Seriously…don’t you dare write about these experiences without showing why they mattered…ie what you achieved. (Bankers will love you if you do!)
- Coming to your interests/‘other’ section don’t be afraid to inject some personality into it. Something that bankers can relate to and go “Hey me too”. Something that suggests you are not a mindless study-fiend. Sports, hobbies, traveling, whatever. Just get it in. We want to know that you’d be fun to have a beer with remember. And to make the points come to life mention something specific about them, eg Trail Running (completed the 50m Death Valley course).
- Proofread your resume 20 times (literally) and get 5 friends to proofread it too. Look not just for spelling and grammar mistakes, but also ‘meaning’ problems…ie how a point reads and whether it is communicating what you intended.
- Do not move onto your cover letter unless your resume is now perfect and restricted to just one page.
- Think. Who is the cover letter for? Has the bank given specific pointers on what to include? Or is it a standard cover letter? Each bank has a different approach and you really need to write a cover letter specific to their requirements.
- First para – who are you, what are you studying, where, what year, and what are you applying for
- Second para – what makes you good for them and for this specific spot; making sure to reference your education and work experience
- Third para – why you are attracted to IB and most importantly to them; throw in a story about you & IB, and about who you’ve met from their bank and what they have shared – we’re talking love story here
- Finishing line – “Thank you for taking the time to consider my application and I look forward to hearing from you.” Anything else and you are douche bagging it up!
- Pimp your cover letter up – meaning specifics and examples. Eg I want to work here because I met xx and he said xx.
- Once again, proofread the shit out of your cover letter. Really!
- If you’ve got interviews coming up or are even mildly curious to see one play out, then your first action step is to jump over to the technical mock interview transcript and the fit mock interview transcript; or start with the Interview Q&A tutorials. Read through them to see the type of Qs you should expect and the quality of the answers you need to rise to.
- Hugely important, stick with the mock interview section of the BIB System and zero down on the feedback to each answer. You’ll see what really impresses a banker. This is insight you can’t find anywhere else and it’s freaking priceless!
- Now clear the confusion a little and learn about the types of interviews you will have and what the difference is – ie how serious, with who, about what etc. There is a huge difference between a first round on-campus interview vs a 2-1 head office interview! So don’t gloss over the first few tutorials in the BIB System Interviews Section.
- Fire up the Excel and plan out all your interview dates (both locked-in dates and potential dates), along with preparation time before the interviews. In doing so really look for the birds eye view here; ie so you effectively plan out the next few weeks or months such that nothing gets in the way of your interviews…ie the interview day or the preceding 48 hours.
- Literally grab your iPhone, Blackberry, HTC, whatever, and schedule every interview in now with a 24 hour alarm and a 2 hour alarm. You would be blown away by the number of students that miss interviews! Seriously. When recruiting season gets insanely busy its kind of understandable.
- Get your story sorted ASAP – 5 dot points with some sub-dot points. That’s what it has to boil down to. So you can think large to begin with, but you need to boil it all down into something super short. And you need to write out a 10 second, 30 second and 90 second version. PS most likely you’ll be going with the 90 second version in your interview.
- Buy some index cards and write down every interview question; ie one per card. Now using our suggested answers and tips think about what your answer will be; what your answer will be. Meaning, think about specific examples to backup your answer. We’re talking stories here. Scribble 3-4 dot points on the back of the card. These cards are now your nightly review. It’s your freaking Bible Study x 1000.
- Enter your bathroom. Pull out index card number 1. Ask the question. And answer it dead straight to the mirror. Like you were in an interview. You’re not just aiming to remember your answer here, but also to practice your body language! The latter is almost more important than the former. We want to see your face cool, calm and collected, but also oozing a bit of personality and warmth, without being all cocky looking…this balance is t-o-u-g-h! Practice.
- Study up on your technical knowledge – focus on the market-business-industry side of things a lot. Bankers love to ask these types of questions. You want to be eating bagels and coffee every morning with the WSJ. Make love to it.
- Break out some brainteasers now and again – the idea here is simply about gaining confidence. Seeing a few and seeing the answering process, breeds comfort, which breeds confidence. And trust us, that’s what you need. Because a confident candidate can answer any brainteaser…because they simply give it a go, talk through it with confident body language, explain their assumptions, show working out etc. You don’t need the right answer every time, but you do need the right approach.
- Call up your friends – it’s time for some mock interview practice. First, practice interviewing each other over the phone. This is an entirely different art to in-person interviews. Plan 10-minute phone calls with each other and focus on asking the About You questions mostly. Ie imagine HR asking questions like “So tell me about your school, do you…”.
- Go for coffee with your friends – it’s in-person interview time. Do NOT go easy on each other, but at the same time don’t go nuts with the questioning…nothing is worse than damaging confidence close to a real interview!
- On the interview day arrive to the area (ie within 500 m of the interview) with 30-60 minutes to spare. Hang around, gather your thoughts, relax (have a fun conversation with a friend on the phone to get your mood and energy levels up and your stress levels down). And then go to the interview point 15 minutes prior to the start time. Ie balancing over eagerness with needing to be on time.
- After your interview is over give thanks and be done. Don’t be one of those fektard students who email 20 minutes later to the personal email addresses of the interviewers saying some sycophantic shit about “thank you thank you I love you”!
- Go out and meet a lot of bankers now, however uncomfortable the idea makes you – try to understand the worldview, the personality and the tastes of our species. Sure, there’s diversity in the ranks….but. This exercise will help you immensely in learning how to gain rapport with bankers. Hint: confidence + smile + good listener whilst not being overeager or sycophantic = winning / tiger blood.
- Start reading the WSJ, Fortune and Businessweek – whether its online through a college subscription or in the local bookstore, just do it! And just as importantly, enjoy it!
- Go through the BIB System again and again – everything is here, so you shouldn’t need to look much further. The real key is internalizing the info here, which is difficult given how much info we’ve packed in. But do it!
- Wander over to Mergers & Inquisitions for a little more study if you like. Especially with the technical Q&As work.
- Don’t go nuts trying to learn financial modeling back to front at this stage.
- Feel free to read some investment banking blogs, but for fun moreso than anything else. There is nothing worse for education than unstructured masses of information…it simply confuses. You need to be sticking to well ordered bodies of knowledge…hello IIB.
- Create a ‘Deals’ word doc – you see, you really want to start following the major deals sooner rather than later, so that you have things to talk about come interview time. The key is to know a lil about a lot, but to then also focus on 5 or so deals, which you know back to front. So yeah, list info you’re picking up in the media about your favorite deals in the Deals doc. Simple enough, but requires a bit of work.
- Visit the websites of all the banks you are applying for – watch the poorly produced videos, read the BS-riddled ‘graduate experiences’ profiles, try to hunt out what makes each bank different and of course what they’re looking for in grads (good luck spotting the differences!).
- Sign up to Vault – it will help with your bank profile research. Just watch out for any advice from Vault when it comes to interview answers or even interview dressing come to think of it.
- Speaking of interview dress, go out now and secure your sheeeeet! Your wardrobe should be sorted well before you think you need it. Nothing is worse than going to a networking event, impressing the heck out of some associate from Credit Suisse and then getting their business card along with a “Come in and meet the team tomorrow, around 10”, whilst you have a Costco suit sitting at home next to your freaking fancy dress costume.
- Try to secure an email contact at each major bank you are applying for – from alumni to friends to friends of family to someone you just met at an event. An email contact doesn’t need to be that close, just close enough that you can send them say a 3-sentence email now and again with 1 or 2 important questions.
- Although it’s early days, start thinking Plan Bs – if traditional recruiting channels don’t work out, what’s the alternative entry strategy for you? Work out 3-4 logical Plan Bs.
- Get work experience ASAP – whether it’s processing financial data at a boutique IB or an accounting internship at KPMG, take it! These are the stepping-stones you need.
- Before you hit up any banking networking events, attend a few in other industries or for other groups at college – these dry runs to borrow some drug dealing lingo are all about practicing without any risk of consequences. It’s training wheels for baby bankers in the making!
- Learn about the type of student bankers actually want to meet whilst networking – hint: it’s all in the BIB System and the 80-20 version = confident, but not cocky, interesting and a good listener.
- Have a handful of fun stories to share when asked “So tell me about yourself”. Most of all, break these stories up into 2 parts, a 15 second teaser introduction and a 45 second extended cut. Ie after the 1st 15 second part you pause and the banker is excited to ask, “and so what happened?” or some other follow up question which leads to the extended cut. Keeps the conversation fluid and 2-way…keeps the ADD banker awake compared to some 3 minute rant.
- Hunt down all the networking events open to you – the on campus ones, the bank HQ ones, the club ones etc. This research takes a lot of work. Start with careers office or faculty websites and also pick up nuggets of gold at all the information sessions. Move onto club info next. And then the banks. Start early! You will be surprised how quickly early stage networking events creep up. Commit them all to your iPhone calendar too!
- Get together with 2-3 friends to form a networking rat pack! Apart from drinking martinis together Dean Martin style, your rat pack is for 1) sharing info with each other about all the events and 2) having a crew to go to the networking events with. As a pack you can achieve so much more, especially when at the events. You can feed of each other’s confidence and energy, you can take a banker to yourselves for a group chat, you can interact in unison together with the banker (no awkward group dynamics) etc. And you can block stalker students!
- Contact everyone you know in banking for an informational interview – make it very clear in your email that you just want 15-20 minutes of their time over coffee to ask some questions about banking. You are as chilled as the Fonze.
- Start throwing out some hail marys too! Ie make all your friends and family aware of what you’re trying to do (get a job in IB) and wait for the invariable “Oh you should speak to…”. 6 degrees style!
- Super smart is the student who then also embraces online networking. Simply jump onto Facebook and Linkedin and start looking at your friends and connections; work out who might be able to help you setup some informational interviews, or even answer a few innocent questions about banking. Linkedin is particularly good for this since you can see what industries people are in. Be careful with your privacy settings with Linkedin though, otherwise you’ll leave a trail of stalking for all to see. PS the virtual hail mary = a cheeky Facebook post out to all your friends asking if anyone knows anyone in IB who could answer a few questions.
- Hit up the careers center and your on-campus clubs to see who can put you in touch with some alumni in the industry. All you need is names and emails. And then it’s time for some non-threatening 1-2 simple question emails. If they get replied to, then you can make the ‘ask’ and see if they’d be willing to meet you for a 15 minute coffee at some point.
- Carry pen and paper whenever you go to networking events – a little notepad will do. Use it to scribble down details of bankers you meet. Names, contact details, what you talked about, etc. This will be essential when it comes time to follow up and when it comes time to write your cover letter. (PS try to keep the furious scribbling out of plain sight…hello cubicle!).
- Spend the weekends leading up to your internship preparing – focus on whatever you feel anxious about, eg comps. But don’t go nuts, because no one is expecting you to be anywhere near competent when you walk in Day 1…you’re brand new! Ie don’t feel obliged to enroll in a $5000 financial modeling course or some fucktard bootcamp prior to your internship!!
- On your first day concentrate on meeting people – sure you are there for orientation and to learn about not touching Jenny from Oil & Gas on the ass during lunch (yes sexual harassment presentations do happen!), but focus on the most important thing…meeting your fellow interns, your team and anyone who comes to meet ‘the summers’. Nothing makes an internship easier than friends.
- Have a bias for socializing – to repeat, make sure you accept just about all invitations for drinks, coffee, food, whatever. Even if the invitations push your work back and have you staying till 2am to finish.
- Do not spread yourself too thin though as you want to make sure you impress the shit out of your team, your group. They’ll be the one deciding whether to hire you or not!
- Get yourself a mentor or two and treat them like kings; do whatever they ask for and also self-initiate some tasks if you’ve got spare time and it could help your mentor out, especially when it’s getting close to midnight. Focus on analysts and maybe associates for your mentor role.
- Be an amazing listener and a fucking rabid note taker – whenever you get tasks assigned, sit on conference calls etc, you need to make sure you get what’s going on and you’ve written down your to-dos. Make a banker repeat themselves and you be getting a face slap.
- Avoid the classic intern mistakes; arrogance, MD-leg-humping, getting too drunk, hitting on intern Betty Bettyford, etc.