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Perfect your CV

Updated: Sep 14, 2019

Once you have familiarised yourself with the financial industry, it is important to get to know the application process. Landing a spring insight week, summer internship or graduate job in finance-related roles often follows a very similar process, one which you can learn and be better prepared for in maximising your chances of a job offer.

It is shocking to see how many applicants shoot themselves in the foot before they even begin the application process: not having a CV that is ready to submit. This is the single most important key to unlocking your future financial career! There are several steps to take in perfecting your CV: first, you need to make sure it is in the right format. To make life easier for you, we have attached an image of a CV template below which you will only need to copy and fill in with your details (file can be downloaded from https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/free-investment-banking-resume-template/).

Before we get into the CV content, make sure that as you fill in your CV the grammar is perfect, a standard font is used (Times New Roman, Helvetica, Arial), proper and consistent use of punctuation (full stops at the end of sentences throughout), perfect alignment of text and margins (use gridlines in Microsoft Word) and check spelling at the end. Any content such as work experience should also be chronologically ordered from top to bottom. I cannot stress the importance of these factors enough, as failing to abide by these can ruin a good CV and lead to an immediate rejection.

CV Content

Your CV should begin with a couple of bullet points that highlights your key qualifications and experience this can be broken into education, work and leadership experience, and then skills, activities, qualifications and interests. Your education section should firstly contain the degree you are currently studying, your predicted grade and perhaps one or two relevant modules. You then list your A-Levels or equivalent (subject and grade achieved) followed by grades achieved at GCSEs or equivalent.

Work experience is by far the most important section, which entails detailing previous or current employer names with a brief description about company, the job title and time you held that position and finally the responsibilities you carried out and results you achieved during that work experience. Try and quantify your achievements as much as possible (i.e. I helped X start-up company grow Y%, I made A sales in B weeks, I managed Z clients...).

The final section is showing your skills without explicitly listing these, in order to show why you are a good fit for the position. Do NOT include proficiency at Word, PowerPoint and Excel as this is expected of you, only include coding (Java, Python, etc.) if you are at an advanced level and most importantly do not exaggerate your level of skill at a particular activity, language or interest.

What Employers Look For and How to Build on Your CV

When employers look at CVs, they focus primarily on relevant skills and work experience. This is not to say that if you have never worked in a bank you cannot land an internship in investment banking - I have seen fellow interns who landed the position studying degrees in non-STEM subjects with no directly-related work experience. However, at the very least you will need CV content that shows you have an understanding and interest in the position for which you are applying. Being part of finance-related societies at university, reading the Financial Times regularly or finance-related books (see previous blog post) attending lectures and seminars by experts in the field are good examples of practice first steps that can be taken and then reflected in a CV.

A step further would be to organise informal work shadowing through reaching out to contacts. My partner is a perfect example of this: she met the Managing Director of Technology at Morgan Stanley during a lecture on campus and, after speaking to her about her job and what this entails, later contacted her on LinkedIn and asked to shadow her at her office in London. This two-day informal (non-paid) work experience gave her an advantage in the application process, and unsurprisingly helped her to secure a summer internship at Morgan Stanley later that year.

That brings me to my final point: networking trumps everything. At the end of the day, no matter how intelligent you are, how highly you scored in your degree, how many internships you have secured... if you know someone in the firm who can vouch for you, this will give you a HUGE advantage. I cannot stress this enough. Get in touch with alumni from your old school, university, sports teams, whatever you need to do to start building a network of people you can go to for advice and help as part of the application process.