You’ve sent your CV off for a gazillion jobs and you’ve had an equal amount of automated responses. Something tells you humankind is overlooking your job applications. Why? Speaking strictly off the record, petulant recruiters reveal the reasons why they delete your resume without a millisecond’s hesitation.
1. It’s written in the third person
Recruiters hate this. Don’t say, “John is a top ranked equity researcher” if you’re referring to yourself.
“I can’t stand it when people put their personal statements in the third person,” complains one finance recruiter. “They say things like ‘Tim is a highly motivated person, a tenacious individual, a delightful character. It just makes them look like an idiot.”
2. You’re qualified to be a binman but you’re applying to be a rocket scientist
This is a big thing too. “We get a lot of people who are shelf stackers but who want to be traders,” says one finance recruiter.
3. It’s in a weird format
Recruiters convert your CV into their own format. If it’s weirdly formatted, you’re making their lives hard. “We had a resume in Excel once,” one recruiter recalls. “We get CVs in PowerPoint – especially from consultants,” says another. “Recruiters like CVs to be in Word,” he adds.
4. It’s a manuscript
Your resume will not be read it if it’s 8 pages long. “You get these people whose career started in 1973 and they’ve just added and added to their CV without editing any of their old jobs down,” says one recruiter. “They end up full of irrelevant stuff. It’s an indication that the person can’t write a concise document, which is a bad sign in itself.”
Remember – finance resumes are one or two pages max.
5. Your photo is weird
Don’t send a holiday photo or a photo of you kissing your dog. Don’t send a photo of you in fancy dress. Don’t send a selfie. Recruiters say they also haven’t bothered with CVs where photos are very large and upside down.
6. Your personal statement bears no resemblance to the job you’re applying to
It’s no good saying you want to work in M&A if your personal statement says you want to work in equity sales. This happens.
7. Your resume contains the logos of all the places you’ve worked
People do this. Recruiters think it looks pretentious. They may turn against you.
8. Your resume states the blindingly obvious
“You get people who say they’ve worked for RBS, which is a global corporate and investment bank,” says one recruiter. “I know that. I find it patronizing.”
9. You left banking for a brokerage and now you want to go back
Not too long ago, it was a thing for out of work traders to get jobs in the inter-dealer broking industry. Now they want to come back. They can’t. “It’s very difficult to move back from broking,” says one headhunter.
10. You haven’t worked since 2011
Recruiters will also give you a miss if you’ve been out of the market for more than two years. Especially if you work in sales. “The market is still long candidates and short jobs,” says one headhunter. “You can call one year out a sabbatical, but anything more than two years starts to make you look desperate,” he adds.
There are exceptions: well-known senior bankers with a proven track record and rare skills (‘leadership ability’) might have their CVs perused even if they haven’t worked since 2009.