What do the two most prestigious banks on Wall Street want to see on a resume? Impressive professional accomplishments, a blue-chip degree, and terrific grades and extracurricular activities, just to get started.
But plenty of people have all of the above and fail to earn interviews at Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan. There are several tips that can help your chances at either bank. The information below was taken from the career sites of Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan, podcasts that they’ve produced as well as interviews we’ve done with the two banks over the last year or so.
Most of the advice is targeted at junior bankers, but many of the tips can translate for more seasoned bankers as well.
- While Goldman recruiters prefer one-page resumes for students, they do stress the importance of including all pertinent information, even if it may not be directly related to financial services. “We want to see school and work experience, but we also want to see what you are passionate about outside of work and academia,” said Kate Martuscello, head of MBA recruiting for Goldman’s private wealth management division.
- It seems extracurricular activities are particularly important. They can even trump terrific grades for entry-level candidates. “If we look at someone with a 4.0 GPA but with no extracurricular activities and compare that person to someone with a 3.6 GPA but who has other skills and commitments, to me, that is a more well-rounded candidate,” said Sandra Hurse, global co-head of campus recruiting at Goldman Sachs.
- Recruiters on a recent podcast recently reiterated this point. Having a diverse skillset is critical. In fact, one of the hosts suggested that if you have a particular strength – perhaps, say, engineering and a strong GPA within your major – you may want to gain experiences that would counter that, like public speaking and people skills, Identify your strength and build upon what may be perceived as a correlated weakness.
- Like other banks, Goldman is on the lookout for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) majors. But experience and training outside of financial services tends to build a different vocabulary. When applying to Goldman with an atypical background, avoid buzzwords and jargon that are commonplace in other industries that recruiters at the bank may not know, internal recruiters stressed in a recent podcast.
- Don’t just list your responsibilities. It’s more important to document your achievements. This is the number one mistakes candidates make on their resume, according to a CV expert. What did you do that separates you from others with a similar role?
- Formatting matters. Your resume should appear as a “professional business document,” with sections clearly defined with proper bolding, fonts and capitalization.
- For undergraduate and MBA students, your resume should never be longer than one page.
- That said, a concise resume is no excuse for leaving out critical information. “For example, if you took a year off to focus on other personal goals, you should include that experience in your resume,” Joanna Lee, an investment banking MBA recruiter at J.P. Morgan, told us last year. Also, avoid unexplained employment gaps and missing GMAT scores.
- Quantify whenever possible.
- One size doesn’t fit all. Structure your resume to highlight skills and experiences that fit the job in question.
- Don’t just write your resume – know your resume. Come in prepared to talk intelligently about everything on your resume.
As for cover letters, don’t send in the stock “To Whom it May Concern” note that could be aimed at any bank. Show you’ve done research on J.P. Morgan and explain why your experience and background is a fit for the bank and how you would apply it in the role in question. And, again, brevity isn’t a bad thing.