Welcome to the latest in our (semi) regular ‘CV Clinics’ in which we ask our top CV doctors to give their verdicts on whether your resume will get you the job you want in financial services.
This week, we’re dissecting the resume of a UK student who's looking for a summer internship in a financial services firm. You can see a copy of his resume if you click the following link: UK Top UK Student's CV. We've also embedded a (blurry) copy below.
Will this CV get its owner the kind of job he wants? We asked three banking resume experts: Peter Harrison at Harrison Careers, Victoria McLean at City CV, and Iain Beaumont, founder of Interview My CV.
Their opinions and advice are below. Do you agree with them? Leave your comments and advice for the resume’s owner at the bottom of this article.
Iain Beaumont's verdict:
Personal statement: Absent from the top of the CV (your personal statement should be the first thing they read, it’s your initial sales pitch). It appears that you have tried to convey your talents within the finishing comments but they are very difficult to read (over flamboyant and unnecessary language) and comes across as slightly arrogant. Recommendation: Create a 50–70 word impact statement that tells the reader who you are and what you can bring to the company. Remove the finishing comments and use a covering letter to go into more detail about why you want the role and how you can add value to the organisation.
Key skills: Good to see proficiency in MS Office but ensure that you can back up your claims about being an expert, especially with Excel (know your VLOOKUPS and how to work a pivot table like a pro if you want to impress at a bank). Your language skills may be tested at an interview so ensure that your skill level is accurate.
Qualifications: Strong academic background. A predicted first in economics and econometrics will be viewed favourably in most front office roles. Well written, clear and concise.
Work experience: First impressions suggest that you have been proactive in securing experience but your descriptions are incredibly difficult to read (suggests that you have copied and pasted from another source or are trying to be overly clever with your language). What experience have you had post 2012? Recommendation: Tone it down and keep it simple. Write about what professional exposure you’ve had, what you learnt and how you have incorporated it into your university studies. Fill in the gap between 2012 and present.
Hobbies and interests: I would omit amateur bodybuilding but emphasise that you are a keen sportsman (or similar). Currently using U.S. spelling of traveller – not a big issue but using the UK spelling demonstrates attention to detail. Good selection of activities and all relevant. Where possible add details of any achievements and responsibilities.
Layout & aesthetics: A below standard effort for someone applying to the financial sector. The formatting is sloppy and shows a lack of attention to detail. Little impact. Recommendation: Standardise bullets, justification and indentation. As you mention that you are an expert in MS Word you need to ensure that your CV looks sharp. Remove Curriculum Vitae 2014 from your header (everyone knows what the document is) and don’t underline titles.
Our summary: A strong academic background but the CV is let down by a poor use of language, unnecessary capitalisation of words and below standard formatting. Attention to detail is critical, particularly in the financial sector. You have evidently got a lot to offer an employer when you graduate but your CV is currently not going to get you noticed for the right reasons. I would recommend giving it a complete overhaul to make it easier to ready, pithy and condensed down to just 1 side of A4.
Victoria McLean's verdict:
A CV needs to convince the reader (very quickly) that you are better than your competition and meet/exceed the criteria for your target role.
Before we even look at the content, your CV needs to be visually slick and professional; well-written with zero typos, correct grammar and a corporate look and feel. As a hirer, my view would be that if you can’t get your CV right then what kind of work will you produce for me?
The format of this CV is quite odd. A mix of bullets, square (black and grey) under education, followed by round bullets that are misaligned under the work experience section. Some of the bullet points are justified to the left and others are centred – they should always be consistent.
The language used is over-elaborate (lots of adjectives), frequently ungrammatical (misplaced commas etc.) and some tautology (eg. prerequisite necessities). Parts of the CV just don’t make sense (eg. generate ultimately drive alpha). There is also a mix of UK and US English, which needs to be addressed. Overall the level of written English needs to be improved. The whole CV needs to be reformatted to fit neatly (and smartly) on to one page (the normal requirement for a finance CV).
I can’t see usage of the right keywords here – you should do some research into your target role and specifically the types of language, phrases and words the recruiter is likely to be searching for. By this I am referring to hard skills and knowledge in addition to the softer skills, which you have touched on.
If possible you should also evidence a proactive desire to work in the finance sector.
In terms of content:
Education: you should only include the year of the qualification (e.g. 2015) rather than the whole period of study. Was this an Honours degree? If so then you should specify this.
Work experience: each bullet point should contain an action – what did you actually do? Rather than describing the skills used, it would be better to demonstrate how you used those skills in the job – detail activities and where possible include a challenge overcome or an outcome / result. Did you work on any projects and if so what did you do, and how did that help the organisation or team?
Finishing comments: I am not quite sure what this section is doing here, it seems inappropriate – any comments should go in a covering letter – beware of being OTT and please proofread your work – even better, get a professional to proof it for you.
Peter Harrison's verdict:
- A-levels are fine although I might have expected 5 rather than 3 only.
- Economics and econometrics looks impressive, and we like quant candidates.
- Two excellent internships, but they are both in 2012!
- Badly worded descriptions of both 2012 internships. I cannot understand what the candidate really did on either internship, making me think they were not proper internships.
- It’s a really bad sign that there is no 2013 and 2014 summer intern experience. It tells me this candidate is not that great.
- The pretentious and grammatically incorrect description of the Finance Society activity “pooling of young academic minds to generate ultimately drive alpha” tells me the candidate really doesn’t understand what we are looking for.
- “Conversational/business fluent German” means to me that candidate is not fluent in German. That’s disappointing and makes candidate less attractive.
- Good IT skills which, a bank will test.
- Weak “Interests” section which does not make me want to meet candidate.
- ‘Finishing comments” are also pretentious and inappropriate. A bank is likely to think the candidate will not fit into its culture.
- Resume cosmetics are poor and this inferior presentation makes the candidate seem less impressive.
- In summary, a bank is unlikely to select this candidate for interview.