How Investment Banks Read Your Resume

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There are plenty of resume tips out there – and even investment banking resume templates and tutorials for all levels, whether you’re an undergraduate, a current banker, or you’re at the MBA-level.

But one question that rarely gets addressed is who reads investment banking resumes in the first place?

Who actually takes time out of their day to read what you scribbled down? How much time do they spend on it?

And how can you get selected for an interview?

Who Reads Your Resume

If you’re applying for analyst-level positions, other investment banking analysts will review your resume.

If you’re from a “target school” that many banks recruit at – such as the Ivy League, Stanford, MIT, Duke, and so on – then analyst alumni from your school will review your resume.

Otherwise it’s more random and HR might just hand it off to whomever “has bandwidth” at the moment.

For associate-level positions – at the MBA-level and beyond – associates will review your resume and decide who gets an interview. Once again, alumni from your school will do it if they’re available.

Who Does NOT Read Your Resume

HR is rarely involved – they just hand off resumes to bankers. So when you’re networking into investment banking, go for the bankers rather than HR.

Senior bankers such as managing directors, vice presidents, and directors are also not involved – their time is too valuable to waste pouring over 500 resumes each week.

The Cold, Hard Numbers

How many resumes a bank receives and how many interviews they conduct are highly dependent on the bank, the region, and the specific group.

Financial centres like New York, Hong Kong, and London tend to receive more resumes than regional offices, and bulge bracket banks tend to receive more resumes than boutiques.

As a rough estimate, banks might grant 20 interviews for every 100 resumes they receive. The odds may decrease at larger banks and may increase at smaller firms.

Large banks might hire anywhere from 100 new analysts per year on up.

If you assume that only a few of those 20 interviewees actually land offers, you can get a sense of the rough numbers: Large banks receive thousands of resumes each year, conduct hundreds of interviews, and then give offers to a small percentage of those interviewees.

Timing, Timing, Timing

There are 2 questions here:

  1. When do bankers read your resume relative to when they receive it?
  2. How long do they spend reading it?

#1 is easy: At the last-minute.

In investment banking, everything is done at the last minute and bankers rush around hours before the deadline to select interviewees.

#2 is also easy: 30 seconds.

As Anna writes on her Investment Banking Resumes blog, you have a golden 30 seconds to impress the analysts reviewing your resume.

With thousands of resumes received each year, no one has time to spend scrutinizing every last detail.

The analysts and associates who read your resume do so in sleep-deprived states when they’re behind on other work – so they focus on the main 2 or 3 points that you convey.

What Bankers Look For In Resumes

There are numerous resume templates and tutorials on this site already, so I’m not going to repeat everything here – take a look at the links below for some inspiration:

  • How to Write an Investment Banking Resume
  • University Student Investment Banking Resume Template
  • Investment Banker Resume Template
  • MBA/Experienced Investment Banker Resume Template
  • Investment Banking Resume With No Finance Experience

Those links should answer 99 per cent of your questions. But since we’re talking about how bankers actually read your resume, I’ll add the following points:

They Scan For Names, GPAs, and Interests

When a sleep-deprived banker is looking at your resume, he wants to make things as easy as possible.

If you’re an undergraduate, your university name, employer names, and GPA all stand out because you usually make them bold or use larger-sized text.

So having a brand-name university and brand-name internships helps a lot – as does a good GPA.

Bankers also pay attention to your interests because it’s at the end and therefore easy to skip to – and because they’re often bored themselves and want to interview “interesting” people.

Don’t Revise Your Resume 537 Times

Resist the temptation to edit your resume hundreds of times – it’s just not worth it because bankers spend so little time reading it.

Use one of the templates I linked to above, then make 2 or 3 rounds of edits to create a finished draft.

Your time is much better spent networking.

… But a Second Pair of Eyes Is Always Good

On the other hand, you do not want typos or other mistakes because those stick out like a sore thumb.

Bankers are trained to catch tiny mistakes – it’s what they do all day.

So before submitting your final version, print it out, let it sit, and have a friend look it over.

Closing Thoughts

Bankers spend barely any time reviewing your resume, but you need to have a good one to get interviews.

So use one of the templates offered on this site, focus on the 2 or 3 key experiences you want to highlight, and get another pair of eyes on it before you submit anything.

After all, you only have 30 seconds to impress.

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