Most resumes go through HR, and while you certainly want to make yours stand out quickly for an HR screener, distinguishing yourself quickly is even more important when you are in the investment banking hunt. That’s because it’s the bankers—not HR—who are usually reading the resumes, and bankers’ time is limited. Traditional wisdom says you have only 20-30 seconds to make an impression when HR reads your resume. You can cut that time in half for bankers!
Number 1, find a way to stand out.
A good school won’t do it, even if you went to Harvard (or better!) Let’s face it—half of the resumes in the pile are going to be from Harvard, and the other half are going to be from Princeton, Yale, Wharton, or Stanford. Instead, use your unique experience to stand out. Show how you did something special to work hard; show your ability to multi task—for example, if you started a company with multiple employees. The story gets even better if you managed a project across multiple states.
Number 2, show your knowledge of the industry.
Highlight industry knowledge and target those groups inside the bank. This has to be legitimate, however. You can’t say you worked at Blockbuster and claim to be a media expert. If you are going to claim to be a media expert, you need to have real industry knowledge—for example, you interned for a pharmaceutical company conducting research on new products in the pipeline.
Number 3, if you don’t have real work experience, highlight your relevant interests.
The key here is to make sure these interests are indeed relevant and not too fluffy. For example, you could highlight specific case studies that you worked on or talk about your investment portfolio. Using fluff here could hurt rather than help. For example, don’t say that you were treasurer of your fraternity or a cashier at Walmart so you are used to handling money. Don’t use anything that’s too much of a stretch, like working at your dad’s office, any fraternity position, any retail job or anything related to high school unless it is REALLY impressive.
And here’s something to think about. If you really don’t have any relevant work experience, start positioning yourself so that you can claim some. Advise others who know less than you. In other words, become a consultant of sorts—Amateur investing clubs, college business teams—who needs your words of wisdom?
Get yourself an internship, even an unpaid one. Call on local banks or brokerage houses. Offer to sweep the floors if you have to. In addition to having something to put on your resume, you might actually learn something!
Need resume help? Let our team of investment bankers build you the perfect Investment Banking Resume!
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