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How to assemble an English CV if you’re a Japanese banker

Forget interview skills and track records, the first hurdle facing Japanese bankers hoping to land a position at a foreign bank is putting together a compelling English CV. Fortunately, Tokyo’s recruiters have a few pointers that might help make the difference between the CV slush pile and getting a foot in the door.

Kevin Naylor, team manager of the financial services division at Wall Street Associates, says Japanese candidates sometimes undersell themselves by not including enough info about their experience and achievements in previous jobs. He says many people leave out crucial details like the products they have covered or the duties they had in their current and past roles.

And that lack of data often includes a shortage of figures, too. “People in finance like numbers; they catch a resume reader’s eye as something quantifiable in a sea of qualitative information. This will cause the reader to stop, look and analyze. This is valuable ‘eye time’ at a time when resumes are still plentiful and get skimmed over quickly,” Naylor says. Quantifying such things as sales records, cost savings and volumes processed can give candidates an opportunity to compare themselves favorably to others.

John McCrohon, director of financial services at Robert Walters Japan, says grammatical errors and poor spelling are a common sight on Japanese candidates’ English CVs. And he adds that the Japanese often list their work experience in the wrong order, with their earliest rather than most recent work experience on the top page.

Then there is the issue of stretching the truth too far. Naylor says many candidates-often on the advice of recruiters-distort dates, company names, position names or responsibilities to try and snare an interview. “Misrepresentation in experience and responsibilities will easily be found out by a decent interviewer and lies on a resume will be caught by any big bank’s background check. Marketing is good; misrepresentation is not and will get you a bad name in the market,” he says.

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