It's a new year. Banks are hiring. Things seem to be looking up. However, before you rush into sending out your CV in application for all the financial services jobs you want, it's worth making sure it will have the desired effect. Is your resume really as good as it can be?
We asked financial services recruiters and specialist finance resume writers for quick fixes that will maximize a CV's effectiveness. This is what they said.
1. Get your generic CV straight first
Every CV you send should be tailored to the job you're applying to. However, before you can tailor your resume, you need to get your generic resume right.
Nicholas Mark Byron, head of banking at City CV, advises candidates to start by creating a generic resume that details every job they've done and then explains i. what they achieved, ii. the difficulties they overcame to achieve that and iii. what they personally delivered in quantifiable terms.
"If you work in financial services, it will mostly be about the bottom line," says Byron. "What revenues did you generate? How much profit did you make? How did you improve processes to generate cost savings?"
2. Systematically tailor this generic resume to the jobs you're applying to
Once you've got your generic CV right, you can set about adapting it for particular roles. Byron advises combing through each job description and identifying each particular skill the recruiter is looking for. The easiest thing to do is then to match this wording exactly in your CV - adding evidence to show that have each of the particular skills required.
For example, says Byron, if a job is asking for someone who 'has experience of dealing with real money clients in the UK,' you should state that you have experience of dealing with real money clients in the UK on your CV - and then provide a list of the clients you've dealt with and the revenues you've generated.
3. Write an excellent personal statement (for each job you're applying to)
Nadia Capy, senior account manager at Graduate Solutions, which hires graduates into finance jobs, says an excellent personal statement is the key to first getting noticed by recruiters. Byron agrees: "A CV is simply designed to get you through the filtering process. You need introduce yourself clearly and in a way which makes it clear that you're suited to the job you're applying to."
What's the secret of the personal statement? Capy says it needs to provide concise evidence that you can do the job in question: "If you're an experienced person applying for a quantitative risk job, you might write that you've got 'Eight years' experience in quantitative risk roles at leading investment banks.'"
4. Cut the guff
Is your resume full of self-aggrandizing waffle? Be brutal if so. "People have become too verbose," says Capy. "You read CVs and they're full of words like 'dynamic, team player, entrepreneurial.'
Don't use these words unless you have solid examples to back them up.
5. Cut the flab
Editing your CV isn't just about cutting verbiage. It's also about cutting in general. Shorter is better. Use bullet points instead of full sentences. Use sentences instead of paragraphs.
"You want your CV to be as short as possible," says Capy. "Use bullet points to describe your experience and achievements and make sure they cover all the key skills that are specified in the job spec."
6. Demonstrate a superior understanding of the job you're applying for
If you work in M&A you might be hoping that 2014 will be the year you move into private equity. Maybe it will, but for the move to be successful you'll need demonstrate a "holistic understanding" of what working in private equity involves says Logan Naidu, chief executive of search firm Dartmouth Partners.
"It's not good enough just to have excellent academics and a big banking brand name on your CV - the successful candidates also show that they have an understanding of what it makes a good manager of a business and a real interest in the sector they're applying to," Naidu says.
How can you show this on your CV? Naidu says it's quite hard but one way is to invest in the sector you aspire to work with - either in the form of a dummy portfolio if you're restricted by your current employer, or a genuine portfolio if you're not.
7. Eliminate company-specific vernacular
If you've spent years working in finance already, you might be accustomed to referring to yourself as a 'wholesale banker' even though you're an investment banker, or a 'solutions professional', even though you're an FX-structurer.
Company-specific job titles can cause confusion, says Naidu - particularly among line managers who tend to have less patience with such things. Try to ensure that your resume only uses industry standard terms. That way you're more likely to get picked up.
8. Be ambitious
So you want to be an M&A analyst, but you have no direct M&A experience? Byron says there's nothing wrong with headlining your resume with the words, 'Seeking an M&A analyst role in investment banking.'
"You can lead your CV with an impressive job title - it doesn't have to be the job you're doing now and can be the job you really want," he says. "That way, at least recruiters know that they're in the right place."