Candidates often wonder what makes a CV attractive to an investment bank. The answer will vary from one bank to another but here are some things that make a CV stand out.
1. Clear and concise descriptions of your jobs and what you actually did.
No one wants to wade through a page of text to figure out what you did at your last job. Three or four bullet points should suffice, even for the most senior jobs. If you have a deal list to show, put it in an attachment. And don’t overstate your role; it is unlikely that an associate actually “ran” an M&A deal, and recruiters who read this in a CV will be skeptical.
2. For more senior candidates, at least three-to-five years at one firm, in one role.
Recruiters hate job-hoppers. They’ve heard all the stories about downsizings and “differences over business strategy.” They’d like to know that you can hold down a job. Also the fewer chronological gaps the better. Recruiters read chronology carefully, and can tease out gaps even when you try to hide them. That said, anyone who was laid off for a year or two during the dot-com crash, or during the 2008- 2010 period, need not worry – they’re in good company.
3. A record of achievement outside your work.
This is particularly important for people at the junior level, where your work experience may not look like much on paper. Differentiators include athletic achievement, or personal finance, for example, running one’s own portfolio successfully. If you’re lucky enough to have won a Rhodes Scholarship or a White House Internship, you don’t need my advice to know you should put it on your CV. But lots of other achievements count; if you’ve mentored a youngster, or if you sit on a not-for-profit board, or had a show or your own artwork, or if you’re a fifth degree black belt, let them know!
One final tip: do not obsess about format. As long as the format is attractive, and conveys content quickly and accurately, it will be fine. By the way, many recruiters tend to skip an opening, summary paragraph of text – we prefer to go directly to jobs and educational background. We can figure out what your skills are from the jobs you’ve had. So feel free to leave that out.
David Schwartz is CEO at search firm DN Schwarz & Co. He is a former director of recruitment at Goldman Sachs.