April 15, 2014

Application Tips

Tips for your CV
Investment banks receive thousands of applications each year, both during recruiting season and throughout the rest of the year. Your CV serves as an important tool for recruiters in the selection/elimination process. Investment bank recruiters are known to look for the following aspects in CVs:

  • Evidence of academic strength and analytical skills.
  • Demonstrate that you have team player characteristics and soft skills.
  • Propensity for leadership and confidence. Investment banks want employees with senior management potential. They see all hires as either future partners or future clients.
  • Accomplishments. Investment banks seek people who boast long lists of accomplishments that demonstrate reliability, tenacity, commitment, motivation, and high standards of excellence.
  • Distinctions. You’ve got lots of competition. However, if you can differentiate yourself on your CV – highlighting technical skills, foreign languages, publications, awards, notable public appearances – it will be to your advantage.
  • Demonstrate Work Ethic. No matter where you end up working within investment banking, notoriously long hours are part of the deal. Companies are eager to see experience of how you’ve previously handled extra-long workweeks.
  • Use powerful words on your CV. Analysed, managed, developed, projected, evaluated, researched etc. Words that make you sound like an investment banking analyst in the making.
  • Length and density. No matter what anyone tells you about CV etiquette, please keep your CV to 1 page. If CEOs of Fortune 500 companies can keep their CVs to 1 page, then you can too. There is absolutely no reason why your CV needs to run over 1 page. If it does, then you’ve included too much useless information or an inappropriate lay-out.
  • Perfect grammar, spelling, capitalisation, and punctuation. Your grammar, spelling, capitalisation, and punctuation needs to be absolutely consistent and impeccable. If someone reviewing your CV catches an error, your CV could easily get tossed out.

Beware that your writing style and structure of your CV says a lot about how you communicate with others. Make your CV as terse as possible, and make your layout easy on the eyes. No one involved in the recruiting process has enough patience to read through copious paragraphs, so learn to use bullet points and get to the bottom line.

Tips for your cover letter (required only if you have passed the first application round)
You can use these questions as a guideline for your cover letter:

  • Why do you want to become an investment banker?
  • Why do you think that you are a suitable candidate?
  • Why are you interested in the financial world?
  • In what specific area of investment banking are you interested and why?
  • How do your previous experiences prove that you have the qualities to become an investment banker?

Recommended reads

A CV template can be found here and an example of a perfect CV can be found here.