In a world where job security and loyalty to employers are fading memories, it’s normally a given that you should have a well-written, up-to date, modern-recruiter-compliant CV ready to go. Strangely though, there’s one highly visible and successful vocational group whose CVs often look like relics from a bygone age. These are senior bankers.
“Bankers CVs tend to look very dated,” says Janet Moran, founder of The CV House. “You regularly see just a list of job titles and responsibilities, in Times New Roman type. They tend to be transactional and don’t focus on strategic skills or leadership skills.” They are, she explains, designed to satisfy the requirement of producing a CV and not much more.
But does this matter? Historically, perhaps not. Financial institutions are good at promoting from within and, if you are moving up in the same organisation, people know who you are what you’re good at. Moreover, even when moves involve going to a different firm, they are often done via networks and contacts. So again, the CV is there to tick a box, rather than sell a candidate.
Nigel Parslow, a director at Harvey Nash Executive Search says that banking is a highly visible industry. “People know each other and they see what deals are being done.” It’s a bit like being in the movie business: everyone knows what you’ve been working on and how you’ve performed because your work is out there for all to see. “Financial services,” he adds, “is a very open sector.”
However, for all this, the need for a half decent CV may be growing. Recruitment processes are becoming more robust and professional says Ms Moran. Moreover, she adds, if there is a Brexodus from the City (or indeed any other form of downturn) jobs may be harder to come by, competition could increase and CVs might go from being a hygiene factor to being a genuine differentiator.
Worth remembering too, regardless of the economic climate, is that if you’re applying to jobs which are some distance (either geographically or functionally) from your current role, your CV will eventually fall into hands of someone who doesn’t know you or inow of you. In this case, the CV will be all they have to go on. For this reason says, Mr Parslow, you want it to be more than just a perfunctory record of what you’ve done.
He adds that even a traditional banking CV (a page on your history and a transaction sheet) can be improved: “You should try and show that you’ve worked on a range of deals across a range of sectors and demonstrate deal ownership.”
Andrew Pringle, the founder of Circle Square says that CVs have an important role to play for those from certain backgrounds. “If you’ve come from somewhere niche like a tech boutique which is not known to mainstream recruiters or if your job is non-vanilla, you need to provide a description.”
Here, he suggests a brief synopsis of the organisation and your own role. “Give quantifiables. You might say that your boutique has five offices across Europe and closed X deals, of which you worked on Y.” You should, he adds, explain too how much the deals were worth and how big your role in them was. Again, it’s about making yourself stand out.
There are some situations where you really are likely to need to go above and beyond a banking CV. These are where you are either moving out of banking and into a sector that measures career progress more conventionally or into a management role in banking.
Here Ms Moran counsels that here you want to be thinking about a CV which shows how you’ve contributed to organisation goals or dealt with strategic issues. “I’ve worked with bankers who’ve been involved in really groundbreaking activities, led teams through really difficult times and made really difficult decisions,” she explains. “But they don’t show any of this on their CVs. “There’s no indication that they can manage people or persuade people.”
Even if you’re not thinking of moving, it’s a good exercise to write your CV out anyway. Doing so is a good way of forcing yourself to take stock of your achievements, charting your career progress and planning where you want to be in a few years’ time.
Finally, as Clive Davis, UK Strategic Accounts & Operations Director, at Robert Half says, particularly in a business environment where change is expected, you never know what might be round the next corner - and so it is always good to be up to date. “Any passive candidate should ask themselves, ‘If an opportunity presents itself do I have a CV ready – and how good is it? How well does it represent who I am and what I’ve really been doing?”
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