A winning finance resume template
How to get a perfect finance resume?
Over the past years I’ve met hundreds of people applying to finance jobs. They had much in common: all were smart, enthusiastic and ambitious. And they all had one problem: writing something at least close to a good-enough finance resume. The one that won’t be tossed in the bin immediately.
I worked hard with them on creating resumes that would be perfectly in line with what recruiters are expecting. Those that would highlight their achievements and appeal to the reader. And today I decided to release all of that work in a perfect finance resume template. The one that over the years has helped me to land jobs in top investment banks and finance institutions (think JP Morgan, Lazard, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, PwC and so on). If you are planning to get into finance – I seriously encourage you to see it. It’s already optimised for the right formatting, language, structure and so on. You can download the template here.
I have actually written a full 42-page Insider Guide on how to fill it in, what words and formatting to use and how to optimise it for the finance job. In this post I will give you a quick summary. 10 must-do rules from the Guide. Get prepared to perfect your CV.
Finance resume: 10 commandments
1. Keep your formatting boring.
When it comes to resumes many candidates really want to get creative. Understandable – such kind of resumes draw attention. Smiling photos, crazy designs, gigantic fonts and a complete rainbow of colours. All of this is a definite no. Finance is an old-fashioned field. Stay on the safe side. Black font colour, white background, 10-12 font size, bold or italics for highlighting achievements, print-friendly fonts. I cover more in the post on top mistakes made in the resumes.
What Insider Guide says: Bankers can be extremely quick when it comes to rejecting your resume. And formatting is usually the first opportunity to do so. Don’t let it slip – make sure your CV looks professional and formatting is consistent.
2. Never include your achievements in the Education section.
Because everyone does it. Extra academic achievements can be a huge differentiator in the resume selection. Make a separate section for it. This way the reader will immediately get an impression you are a candidate with excellent educational background. Remember that 50% of applicants who were not eliminated on the basis of under-achievement will all be academically brilliant. That’s why you need to make as much noise as possible about any supplementary academic accolades you’ve earned.
What Insider Guide says: Many students tend to think they don’t really have much to boast about. But with a certain degree of creativity I am sure you can find a dozen of examples that will distinguish you from other candidates. Just some of those mentioned in the Guide:
3. List your achievements rather than duties.
The biggest mistake most applicants make is writing up the duties they had at their job.
Was responsible for sending daily updates.
Helped seniors to gather information.
This does not convey a message on why the firm should hire you. If you want to get the job – you need to show the impact of your work. It is understandable that during one or two internships you probably had little chance to achieve something impressive. But you have to frame your experiences in the way that shows you are able to deliver results. Work in a team, oversee tasks and deliver tangible outcomes.
What Insider Guide says: Think of it this way. You didn’t just do an industry research. You scanned over 100 market players assessing strategic options and proposing tangible solutions. And you were not a usual assistant in the sales department. You were ranked as the top sales assistant in your internship class.
4. Quantify experiences whenever possible.
Bankers respond well to numbers. Besides, it just looks more impressive when instead of writing “constructed new business development strategy that resulted in sales increase” you put in “constructed new business development strategy that resulted in 30% sales increase”.
What Insider Guide says: Quantify your work whenever possible, even for jobs outside of finance field. Show how much audience was reached, how many sales you made, how much money was raised etc. Don’t use vague terms such as “large” or “many” as they leave the reader with questions on exact numbers.
5. Use action words.
Words like “grew”, “doubled”, “exceeded” will immediately grab the attention of recruiters. Write in active tense rather than passive one: the active voice indicates you were in charge. Never use the word “tried”. Try to avoid the word “assisted” – it implies a more passive role, so “directed”, “led” or “executed” are preferred whenever possible.
What Insider Guide says: use a few of these 70 recommended action words on your resume.
6. Use Extracurriculars section to compensate for your weaknesses.
Use your Extracurriculars and Interests sections to compensate for possible weaknesses in your application. Try to pick a diverse set of activities to show the different angles of your personality.
What Insider Guide says: Think of it this way. If you have a particular strength – let’s say a strong GPA within your field of mathematics – you might want to show experiences that would counter that, like public skills or team management skills (think university debate team, leading volunteer projects etc). If you come from an unrelated background – demonstrate your dedication to finance (finance or trading club, attendance of finance-related conferences etc).
7. Always tailor your resume to banking.
Your resume should fit perfectly with what banks are looking for. Good university and suitable degree, finance-related experience, interesting and engaging personality and strong interest in banking – and particularly the firm you are applying to.
What Insider Guide says: getting all these right can be difficult – but always manageable. Just takes some creative thinking. I have a full guide on how to turn around bad grades, wrong uni or lack of work experience. Spend some time on making your resume look catchy for the bankers.
8. Show motivation on your resume.
What Insider Guide says: this is the hardest part of your finance resume. Most banks are quite vague about their values – and after all they are quite similar. Highlighting your motivation is also much easier done via cover letter. Nonetheless, you should at least try to tailor your resume. Have a look at the bank’s website (why choose us or why work with us sections), read profiles of people working at the firm, network and try to find out more information offline. Look for specific words or skills and then try to incorporate them in your resume.
9. Don’t neglect the bottom of your resume.
Carefully think about what interests to list. Many take this section as an opportunity to showcase again their academic excellence or interest in finance. Don’t. Interests section should be dedicated to your hobbies outside of work or studies. The worst you can do is writing that your interest is Excel (which, trust me, none of the bankers I knew ever said), creating a portrait of a complete nerd (which, trust me, rarely gets hired).
Second worst is listing common, boring hobbies. Avoid mentioning reading, travelling, sports or watching movies. This is something everybody does. Dig in on your hobbies. Be specific, and list a few that showcase your diverse interests. If you say your hobby is jogging or fishing it will be very difficult for the interviewer to connect with you. If, conversely, you tell that you ran London marathon twice or launched a small online business – the conversation will flow naturally and easy.
What Insider Guide says: check the selection of the most common cliche interests and some examples on how you can turn it around, making them more captivating.
10. Always check before sending.
50% of resumes submitted have typos in them. 97% of hiring managers reject on the basis of 2 typos. You can’t afford to let this slip – proof, proof and proof it again. There is a decent chance that by now you know your resume so well you probably won’t even notice another mistake. Just to be on the safe side – give it to someone to check.
What Insider Guide says: print your resume. Quite often resumes looks entirely different on paper than on the screen.
If you follow these commandments – your resume should be close to perfect. Download the template, fill it in and apply online. If you need more examples and actionable rules – check the full Insider Guide. Or just shoutout for help. We do provide tailored advice on writing and ibifying your resume and cover letter.