Your investment banking work experience sucks

In Uncategorized | 5 minutes read

When I read the resumes of wannabe bankers 9 times out of 10 their work experience sounds absolutely p-a-t-h-e-t-i-c.

It’s usually filled with wishy washy general descriptions and unclear language; never mentions the actual results achieved; comes off very ‘me’ focused; and is completely devoid of any data to back up the claims.

I can’t help but think students are writing their resumes using some shitty template their high school careers advisor in Nebraska gave them when they applied to work at Chucky Cheese a decade ago!

“C-R-A-P-T-A-C-U-L-A-R” would be the technical term!

Now it’s really important for you to realise I’m not saying the actual jobs I read about are poor.

I’m saying the way they are described is.

The secret most students don’t know about writing about their work experience on their resume, is that this is the #1 section bankers look at when comparing applicants and deciding who to interview.


Most of the time, schools and grades are pretty damn fantastic across the board (or at least within the top 30-40% of the recruiting pool).

What then differentiates candidates is the work they’ve done AAAAND how well they’ve described it in their resume.

If you know how to write about your past jobs in a way that will appeal to bankers, you’ll stand out and beat the other 200 students applying for that one position.

I’m pretty sure you can now see why killing this section of your resume is crucial.

But enough jibber jabber…how the heck do you do this?

***Well, right now I’m going to show you how to write about your achievements so your work experience section goes from 4/10 to 10/10, even if the job wasn’t that impressive itself.***

The most important point for you to take on board here is don’t write so much about what you did in your past jobs, but rather what you achieved.

Let me explain…

Bankers are not increment fieeeends like lawyers.

MD Larry Larryson for example doesn’t get paid for hours, ie for the things he simply does.  No, he gets paid strictly for results, ie things he achieves – for making it freaking rain!

And so unsurprisingly that’s what bankers want to hear about from you too.

What you’ve achieved, not what you’ve simply done in past jobs.

When writing about your achievements make sure they are…

1. Real results

Although bankers aren’t expecting million dollar achievements from a 20-something student, they do want to see sizeable results so don’t be afraid to stretch the truth a little here.

To help you decide how far (i.e. whether bankers will believe you) we’ll take a look at an extract from an investment banking resume example tomorrow (**keep an eye out for that email**).

2. Extremely specific

Adding in details like numbers, dates, project names etc. will make your achievements look 10 times more believable than every other student who simply fills their dot points with Ben Stiller esque words like “a lot” or “for a project”.

But be sure to keep everything succinct per the ’15-seconds to bin’ rule.

Getting this balance right is part of the riddle of the resume.

3. Client or employer focused

Banks are in the ‘people as resources’ / ‘enrichment of stockholders’ business and want to see what return they would get on you; what value you would add?

So when you’re writing about results you achieved in past jobs be sure to hammer on about how you increased profits, turnover, morale, insight, strategy, ideas, or how you saved time, money, made things easier, more convenient, innovated, increased efficiency, brought in more business, new customers, or otherwise rocked the joint.

This way you are not simply telling them just what you did, but also why it mattered…ie it enriched your former employer’s clients or the former employer themselves.

4. NOT ‘you’ focused

No banker wants to hear about how you learned lots of ‘awesome lessons man’, unless it’s directly relevant to banking.  I mean can you think of anything more contrary to the previous point than writing “I learned so much, me, me, me”.

So just like any good car salesman slinging busted up Dodges on some highway near San Diego make sure you talk about “them, them, them” (former employer / client), not you.

5. Laced with banker-friendly and business-y terms

Littering your resume with terms like ‘the space’, ‘competitive landscape’, ‘return on investment’ and other financial dirty talk will endear you to bankers instantaneously.

You will subtly showcase insider knowledge, and probably above all that you are a student who actually cares about business.

But please avoid turning into a freaking management consultant who fires more BS lingo around than a CNBC talking head – ie don’t let your resume get too BS-dense!

6. Supplemented with metrics

Whether it’s $, %, fold, units or amount, you have to use numbers to quantify your achievement, because they are the language of bankers and also add further authenticity to your achievements.

To make the numbers ‘pop’ time frame them…

i.e. how long they took to achieve.

Numbers when used right will also hypnotically draw bankers eyes to your resume, which is crucial for gaining their attention and interest – and beating the ’15 seconds to bin’ rule.

Also numbers will help a banker understand your achievements even when they are in an unfamiliar industry (eg reading about your part time engineering job!).

It might be worth verifying ballpark numbers with your current or former employer in case the bank wants to ring your old boss as a reference.

P.S. This lesson was extracted straight from our very popular Inside Investment Banking Course.  If you’re serious about breaking into banking, check it out now.

Screw financial modeling…you only need 6 skills to break into banking

If you’re an over excited wannabe Excel Monkey then you’ve probably tried just about everything to break in…from studying financial modeling till 3am to trying to memorize 100s of complicated technical interview questions.

But here’s the thing…

You’re wasting your time!  If you want to learn how to impress bankers, get interviews and land job offers straight out of college you simply need 6 skills.