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CV Clinic: Can I get a financial services job in another country?

CV review

Can you bust into financial services out of school?

This is the latest installment of our regular ‘CV Clinics’ feature, where we analyze a real student or financial professional’s resume and assess their chances of scoring a job in banking. We ask recruiters and career coaches to dissect their resumes, both from a structural and qualitative perspective, and provide some transparent tips along with a verdict of sorts.

We look at a Canadian graduate with a blue-chip degree but with some other holes in his resume. He’s not particularly picky, looking for a job in financial services (which may be a hindrance). We talked to a Wall Street careers coach, a Canadian financial services recruiter and a U.S.-based headhunter in case his goal is to jump the border. Here’s what they had to say. If you are looking for an entry-level job in financial services, these tips should help, particularly for those who may need sponsorship.

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(Click to enlarge)

Roy Cohen, career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide

As a recent graduate of McGill, he has already established an impressive track record. He has spent two summers as an intern, he has received a number of awards, and he has demonstrated a commitment to philanthropy and to global community service. But his resume does not do enough to promote his strengths and qualifications and to convey a sense of career direction and intention.

First, stating at the very top that he is available immediately suggests a sense of urgency. And that may, in fact, be the case. But it also implies that there may not be much interest by prospective employers. It is also not clear what kind of job he is looking to pursue.  A goal or objective statement before “Education” would help the reader to focus and to know what to look for.

Sitting for CFA Level I suggests a buy-side focus, but his coursework is all over the place. Did he pass level I since he sat for the exam sometime in 2014? If so, that success needs to be stated explicitly as follows “Passed CFA Level I” or, alternatively “Preparing to sit for CFA Level 2,” which implies that he passed the first exam. If he failed, and he should know the results by now, then either scrap it or present the date as 2015 when he will retake the exam.

Under “Education” his GPA is noticeably absent. Is it because his academic performance was mediocre or did he perform well in his major but not overall in his other coursework? If the latter, by all means highlight his major GPA which may be sufficient to impress potential employers.

Regarding his work experience, what is the Aldo Group? Is it a private equity firm? To work for one for the summer is impressive. The nature of the business is unclear and made more so by describing it as an “International Business.” In addition, if he received a full-time offer why was it rejected? This is confusing to the reader and may be viewed as arrogant or imply that it was not good enough which indirectly insults and diminishes both the firm and the experience. No need to point it out on the resume, but by all means explain the decision not to join the firm in an interview.

One additional point. It is not clear if he is a Canadian national or if he will need to be sponsored by a future employer. This question is an important one to address since eligibility restrictions will add another layer of complication to his job search.  However unfair it may be, companies tend to avoid candidates who require extra paperwork. Perhaps leaving off locations for his summer internships – like Pakistan for Coca-Cola – will highlight the terrific experience and not the destination.

Connie Stamper, regional manager of Robert Half Management Resources in Toronto

This resume is trying to cover all bases – it is kind of saying “I can do this, and this, and this, and that…” – to be clear on what career path the candidate is looking for, he could benefit from a more focused resume that highlights his goals.

Perhaps it would be beneficial to develop a couple of variations of the resume: one tailored to more of an FI focus, while the other is more for analytical opportunities.

In addition to the specific resume feedback, the candidate should leverage personal and professional networks, make sure social media profiles (especially LinkedIn) are up to date and professional in order to move their career forward.

Based on experience and education, this candidate would be “placeable” in the Canadian market.

Technical feedback

Actual formatting is on legal paper – creates an inconvenience for the person who needs to read it – people generally like to make notes and there is not enough white space. Improper formatting can run the risk of having the resume being tossed.

For the work history, this is a very ‘full’ document – the pages are busy and not enough white space, making it difficult to absorb the information that is most relevant.

Content feedback

Needs a ‘value’ statement or work goal – something that helps the reader ‘frame’ the candidate. A profile like this gets hired on potential, not the extensive work history, it may make sense to treat the value statement as fluid, adjusting it to each job application the candidate responds to.

Direction: CFA implies an interest in FI (as does personal trading), but his work experience suggests analytics work/focus. This candidate needs to clearly state what he wants to do.

General rules of thumb

One or two task related bullets per position, tied to a department/team/company mandate.

One or two bullets of “brag” spots – this is where the recognition, accomplishments, etc. would be appropriate.

Keith Feinberg, director of permanent placement services at Robert Half in the US (Note: Keith was asked to comment specifically on “placeability” in the US based on experience only)

The resume is strong enough to attract the interest of U.S. firms. The person has a good education, presented his qualifications well and worked in good internships. To further set himself apart, the individual could add his GPA or class rank.

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