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It’s not you: it’s your CV

Banking CV problems

Banking recruiters are CV traffickers. At this time of year, good ones will see huge numbers of CVs every day. So, who can blame them if they develop foibles? If they cultivate semi-rational dislikes of candidates who claim to be “innovative”, or whose online profile includes a photograph of themselves with their offspring?

For this reason, it’s advisable to give your finance résumé a health check before sending it out. Is there anything in there that’s likely to repel recruiters before you’ve even started? To give you a few pointers, we asked a selection of recruiters and banking CV specialists for their pet hates. Eliminate anything on the list below, or risk CV death.

1. Don’t start with a profile that bloviates about your great personality 

If you’re stuck for what to write, you might warm your CV up with one of those italicised profiles saying what a great person you are. Best not: recruiters hate them.

“Please don’t say you’re self-motivated or dynamic or a self-starter in one of those personality profiles,” says Tom Stoddart at recruitment firm Eximius. “These are all just clichés. What we’re looking in an opening summary is something that describes your skill-set, not your personality traits. We want to know your key achievements, not that you’re an entrepreneurial person who can build relationships.”

2. Don’t bang the drum for your experience when you’re 23 years-old

In the same way, don’t big-up all the work you’ve done when you’ve only just started. “There are a few junior people who will say they’ve accumulated “extensive experience at a market leading bank”, or that, “I’m world class,” or, “at the top of my game,” or, “I have proven leadership ability,” and when you look they’ve been in the industry for two years, or are still at university,” says Logan Naidu, CEO of recruitment firm Dartmouth Partners. “Stick to the facts and don’t over-inflate,” he advises.

3. Don’t just list what your job(s) involved

“The worst CVs are those that say, “my responsibilities included,” says Victoria McLean at CV writing company CityCV. “I don’t want to know what your responsibilities were, I want to know what value you have delivered in the past and what value you will deliver in the future. Your CV needs to say how good you are at your job, not just what your job is.”

4. Don’t state the blindingly obvious 

“People will say they’re entrepreneurial, or dynamic, or that they work in a fast-paced environment,” says McLean. “But often this is a given. If you work on a trading floor, of course it’s going to be fast-paced and high-pressure. If you work in M&A, of course it’s going require attention to detail and stamina. These things are a given.”

5. Don’t use dynamic words to describe yourself when you should be describing a process 

“Don’t use the word innovative if you’re talking about yourself,” says McLean. “You can call a process or system you’ve introduced innovative, but it means nothing if you’re just describing you.”

6. Don’t reach for clichés

Lastly, avoid stuffing your CV with twaddle. Extensive experience, proven track record, motivated, results-orientated, team-player, problem-solver are all devoid of meaning. McLean suggests you take them out. So do we.


Contact: sbutcher@efinancialcareers.com


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