Getting a development role in an investment bank is tough. But securing a role as a programmer in a major financial centre in the age of offshoring is a super-human feat.
With Goldman Sachs creating more tech jobs in Poland, and even front office development roles heading to nearshore locations, proving your worth as a technologist in banking is harder than ever.
Creating a resume that will impress recruiters is not simply a case of stuffing it with key words about your technical prowess. Knowing how to programme in Java, C#, C++ or Python - the key development languages in banking - is not enough. You must also prove your value to the business.
This is how to structure your CV for a development role in banking.
Talking about a skills matrix is passé, suggest the recruiters we spoke to. However, given that the first line of defence in a job application is often the applicant tracking system (ATS), it’s still important to outline your technical skills. Be wary about simply about listing every programming language you’ve ever worked with. Paul Elworthy, director of IT in finance recruiters Ikas, says clients often deliberately test on every programming language listed in order to trip up candidates with inflated claims of technical knowledge.
“It’s about demonstrating your tech stack,” says Andrew Keene, managing director of recruiters Thomson Keene. “If you’re a Java developer, you need to have Scala or skills around Java Middleware. A lot of banks are replatforming around Python, so developers have had to adapt to that.”
If you want to demonstrate how you’ve been defeating coding problems on Github, apply to a fintech firm – they’re far more likely to be impressed by this sort of innovation than an investment bank, says Keene.
The main way any developer can prove that they’re worth hiring by investment banks in London and New York is by demonstrating an understanding of the business, says Paul Bennie, managing director of IT in finance recruiters Bennie MacLean.
“You want to be the person understanding and creating the spec, not following it,” he says. “Understanding fixed income products, equity derivatives or regulatory issues is the best way of standing out from the competition. Demonstrate this on your CV.”
The fact that investment banks have embraced Python on a large scale over the past five years is an example of how things can change relatively quickly in tech.
“You need to focus on the skills developed and jobs you’ve had over the past three years,” says Elworthy. “Too many people outline skills that they’ve developed over the past ten years, most of which are irrelevant now.”
This advice can be applied to just about any CV, but the need to specify tangible personal achievements is just as valid in a technical role as elsewhere. Investment banks are still looking to poach technologists who have worked on prominent projects in competing organisations, so showing you’ve worked on a successful project and detailing your specific role on that project is very important.
“It’s about showing the business benefit,” says Elworthy. “We interviewed someone recently who reconfigured a settlements platform to be 13 times faster. Show what you've achieved”
Knowledge of programming languages is one thing, understanding financial products is another. More important is being able to show that you have a full understanding of so-called ‘front to back’ development programs and how the platform you’re developing fits into the whole trade life-cycle.
“Showing that you’re a developer who can understand the full software development life-cycle is key to impressing with your CV,” says Bennie.
Tech candidates are more guilty than most of trying to liven up the look of their CV with unnecessary graphics, says Bennie. “Keep it black and white and keep it simple,” he says.