You don’t need telling that including the words ‘dynamic’, ‘team-player’ or ‘innovative’ on your CV will mean you’re embracing the world of cliché. Do you? Less obvious is when you’re applying to a particular business area and still manage to fall into hackneyed territory.
If you recognise any of the phrases below on your resume, it’s time to start editing.
1. Investment banking CV clichés
Investment banks work hard to attract and retain their deal-makers and the market for junior bankers is still relatively attractive. The key is to be specific about any deal experience on your CV, showing your contribution. If you’ve not been overly instrumental in many deals the tendency is to fudge it and become clichéd.
Victorian McLean, managing director of City CV and former recruitment manager for Goldman Sachs, and other recruitment sources, say the following often crop up.
“Decisive collaborator with proven success in building lasting relationships.”
“Able to conduct ‘deep dive’ financial and strategic diligence.”
“Forged strong relationships and facilitated discussion.”
2. Tired technology terms
Technologists should stick with programming languages, but in a world where IT experts must show their understanding of how tech hits the bottom line, the potential for cheesy phrases has never been greater.
“I’m the bridge between technology and the business.”
“I simplify technology and can talk to the business in a language they understand.”
“A technology visionary and evangelist who can bring the business on a journey of discovery.”
“I cut my teeth coding on a ZX Spectrum.”
Paul Bennie, managing director of IT in finance headhunters Bennie MacLean, adds: “A general frustration is technologists claiming to be all things to all men with their technology knowledge, only for it to become apparently clear during interview that they know very little.”
3. Traders floored
Traders know the score with their CV – you need to outline your PnL, sector expertise and track record. Anything else is filler, but inevitably traders feel the need to insert HR clichés into their CVs, says McLean.
“Strong core values, ethical, strong communicator.”
“Able to work well in a high-pressured, fast-paced environment.”
“Effective team member as well as strong individual contributor.”
4. Investment banking operations
It’s not enough to fulfil a function in operations now. Offshoring, nearshoring and process efficiency are the name of the game and being seen to add-value will ensure your job is not shipped off to a lower cost destination. Operations is arguably one of the divisions where clichés most frequently creep in, suggest recruiters.
“Created processes that significantly improve efficiencies and drive change.”
“Full ownership of strategic initiatives.”
5. Risk management adages
Risk management in banking has, of course, become a more desirable skill-set in recent years, as firms bolster their control functions in order to comply with more stringent regulatory requirements. It remains the case, however, that only the best, strategic-minded, risk managers can command a significant salary premium, so most candidates tend to overstate their tactical nous. Avoid the following:
“Strong ties to the risk team, partnering with them to ensure there is a joined up and forward view of risk management.”
“Driven change and efficiencies across the bank’s risk management functions.”
“Client-focused, resourceful and analytical.”
6. Project management pontification
Project managers manage new initiatives, they manage stakeholders, they get projects over the line. They’re also more likely to veer towards corny phrases, says McLean.
“Proactive team-player with a collegiate approach.”
“Positive approach to challenges, open to change.”
“Re-engineering processes to enhance the client experience.”