Friday, May 29, 2009

Some Common Mistakes on Finance Resumes

The resume review response has been overwhelming! Thanks for participating. We noticed many common errors and hope that these tips can help all those tweaking their resume writing.

What to avoid:
- Merely describing what you did
- Adding awards without explaining them
- Not demonstrating how non-finance activities translate into skills necessary for finance
- Not having attention to detail (spacing, general look)

Most undegrads do not have bulge bracket finance experience before junior summer recruiting or even full time recruiting in senior year. But if you think like a banker/trader/consultant in describing your past experiences, it comes through that you understand the nature of the job. Recruiters will be confident that you've done your research and will know how to add value to the team from day one. Writing this type of resume tremendously increases your chances of getting an interview.

A college friend, Tom, was looking for a junior summer internship in investment banking. He encountered problems getting an interview because his resume had the common mistakes mentioned above.

Tom had a 4.0 GPA at a target, biology major, no finance internships. Despite an impressive academic background, he did not receive any interview offers in his junior year. When he called alumni to understand why he did not make the interview cut, they said that alumni and recruiters did not see a real interest in finance with his resume.

After he re-wrote his resume from a banker's point of view, he avoided the common mistakes above. Tom was a research officer for an investment club. He included numbers and ratios demonstrating how his stock selections had a 37% annual return (above the 20% average of the fund). He completely made his resume finance material, even though he didn't have professional finance experience. He added value and could talk confidently about his contributions off his resume in the interview, which helped him land the job.

Lessons from this:
- An impressive academic background alone will not guarantee you an interview selection.
- You need to demonstrate genuine interest in the field SOMEHOW. You don't need to be a economics/finance major, but you need to show involvement and enthusiasm for the position you are applying for. You cannot just be a participant in 10 activities and not know how to speak about how they relate to finance.
- Use finance-speak and terminology in describing your activities. This shows that you are familiar with how bankers think and communicate. It becomes implicit that you know what position you're applying for.

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