by Brian DeChesare Comments (157)

How Investment Bankers Read Your Resume

Investment Banker Reading a ResumeThere 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 whoever “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 centers 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:

Those links should answer 99% 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.

M&I - Brian

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys memorizing obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, traveling like a drug dealer, and defeating Sauron.

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  1. Adham Madi

    Hi Nicole,

    I’m a rising sophomore in Columbia University majoring in Statistics and I interned in a big Financial Services firm in Egypt in the Asset Management division.I’m also on a Varsity Team (Squash) and I have some athletic achievements internationally.In addition, I’m going to join the Columbia Multicultural Business Asociation , which is a Business/Finance club that plans/hosts events and info sessions for Big Banks. I will also take Financial accounting next semester along with a Financial Modeling course in NY (Investment Banking Institute) . My GPA is currently 3.31, but I think it should be somewhere around 3.4 after next semester and hopefully above 5 at the end of the year! Do you think I have any chances to get an Interview/Internship in a decent Investment Bank next summer?


    1. Potentially, yes, but you would still be at a disadvantage with the biggest banks because they generally want GPAs above 3.5, even if you’re at an Ivy League school.

  2. Hi,

    I come from a target school that recruits dozens of students this year for investment banking. However I am a non-business major with a 3.1 GPA and a lack of experience. If I was referred by an employee at a BB, will that improve my chances of receiving an interview? Thank you so much!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Your GPA and lack of experience may be an issue, but I wouldn’t worry too much about it. If you get an interview, perfect your story and be able to talk about why banking.

  3. Christian


    I come from a lower end target school (top liberal arts college that does decently well with IB recruiting) and I have a 3.8 and decent experience. However, I am a sophomore. Is it okay to put down an early graduation year? I actually intend to graduate early, so it is not a lie. I just don’t want to get an offer and have a background check ruin everything (since I am still class of 2018 instead on 2017 in the system). If so, should I put “Expected with Early Graduation 2017” rather than “Expected 2018” on my resume under the education section? How else would you recommend I do so? Would this be a big turnoff for an IB? Thanks SO much!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I don’t think it matters too much. I’d just put Expected 2018 (Potential Early Graduation 2017).

  4. Michael Smith


    I come from a target school and have a 3.5 GPA. Unfortunately, my experience is terrible. Last summer, I was a research assistant for a month and did a study abroad. This summer, I am working in the customer education department for a mid-size company in my area. I’m essentially a secretary getting coffee everyday.

    None of these experiences will stand out to a banker. How do I make myself look competitive on my resume?

    Btw, I was forced to take the secretary position for financial aid reasons.

    1. Probably the best idea is to do your own self-study on the side or during downtime and then spin that into sounding like it was part of your real job… e.g., research stock pitches or potential investments or something like that and spin a story about how that’s what you did. See:

  5. I have an investment banking internship offer for this summer at a regional boutique. I currently don’t have any brand names on my resume (did a marketing internship last summer at a well-known cell phone company, also did an asset management internship at a small firm on Sand Hill Road).

    In order to prepare for next year’s internship recruiting for Bulge Brackets and passing the resume screen, is it a good idea to cold call and try to get a PWM internship at Morgan Stanley? Or is that not necessary?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes you can try connecting with people on LinkedIn and email first. I’m not sure if cold calling is necessary assuming you have a decent response reaching out to people online.

      1. Thanks, Nicole! What I meant to ask is, is it necessary to have the Morgan Stanley PWM internship during the school year if I’m going to do IBD at a regional boutique this summer? How helpful will the Morgan Stanley PWM be to my resume, if I want to pass the resume screen for Bulge Bracket IBDs next year?

        Also, if I to best set myself up for getting IBD offers at Bulge Brackets next year, what’s a better internship after sophomore summer: IBD at a regional boutique, or PE?

        1. M&I - Nicole

          Yes it will be very helpful given MS’ name, especially if you don’t have other experience on hand. Unless it’s PE at say Blackstone, Carlyle or KKR, I’d say IBD at a regional boutique.

          1. Hi Nicole,

            Thank you very much! By next year, I will already have had an asset management internship and regional IBD boutique internship. For right now, should I still invest the time to try to get the MS PWM name? Or is my IBD boutique experience already so much better than MS PWM that MS PWM would only add marginal benefit to my resume?

            Thank you!!

          2. M&I - Nicole

            Yes the MS PWM name would be useful, especially if you want to branch out into PWM, AM down the line. I think having both would be useful because you’ll then have IB as well as PWM experience (at a BB). But if you just want to do IB, perhaps the boutique experience is sufficient, though the MS name can potentially help you open quite a lot of doors.

  6. If I transferred from UW-Milwaukee to UW-Madison, should I include by UW-Milwaukee GPA on my resume.? UW-Milwaukee GPA is a 3.8 and UW-Madison is a 3.0.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes you can to make your current GPA look better.

      1. Wouldn’t banks look down upon that because it is a lesser school?
        Also, If I am an Econ major and my goal is to break into investment banking, am I better off to taking accounting and finance courses that could hurt my GPA, or should I focus on easier Econ/liberal arts classes that could potential increase my current GPA.

        Thank You!

        1. M&I - Nicole

          Perhaps. As long as you can get your GPA above 3.7 it doesn’t matter. If you can’t, I’d choose Econ/liberal arts

  7. Is it worth applying if I go to Univ. of Miami and have around a 3.6 but have solid internships?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes it can help, but you’ll still be competing against people from target schools with high GPA and solid internships. If you get an internship from a BB then I don’t think the school matters as much. Otherwise, I think it does matter to a certain degree.

      1. From your experience, do I have a fighting chance of getting an internship from a BB with the aforementioned credentials and some early on experience at a middle market IB firm? Thank you for the quick reply btw. I just stumbled upon this website and am really enjoying it.

        1. M&I - Nicole

          It is hard to say because I’ve not met you before but based on what you said you should have a chance. It really depends on how you interview etc etc.

  8. Hi, I am about to graduate with an Msc. in Finance from a non target French school (equivalent to GPA of 3). I have accumulated two years of internships (4x 6 months) in Equity Research (notably at a large French investment bank) and in PE (largest fund in France). My long-term objective is to work in PE and I don’t know the better way to get there between M&A, leveraged finance or TS at a Big4.
    What would you recommend?

    With my background do you think I have a shot at landing an M&A or leveraged finance position in the City or NY despite the fact nobody there has head of my school and my GPA is low compared to what they expect (eventhough french grading system is harsh and the french equivalent to a GPA of 3 is pretty good)? Will my experience be an advantage?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d say leverage financed and M&A are the best bets.

      Are you based in France or NY? I think you’d stand a decent chance at French banks given your experience so I’d focus on those. If you need a visa to stay in NY, that maybe an issue.

  9. Hello. I´m a german student, currently enrolled as undergraduate at a new japanese university, called ritsumeikan asia pacific university. The university is roughly 10 years old, thus in no rankings. I went there because i wanted to learn fluent japanese and mandarin, not only because i want to break into IB, but also because i love both languages. In school i was lazy and it was during my last year that i realized that i want to get into IB. Currently my GPA is around 3,7. I had 1 exchange year at a chinese university and consider doing a internship at nomura holdings.
    Im also in the universitys investment club.
    Do i have any chance to get into an IB like Goldman or JP? (i´m studying business administration with accounting and finance as major).

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d say your chances are less than 50/50 so I’d really focus on networking and yes, if you can get an internship at Nomura that will most definitely increase your chances.

  10. Hi M&A,

    I have a rather low Undergrad GPA, but am now pursing a masters degree and have a considerably higher GPA (both from “targets”). Would it be ok if I left my undergrad GPA out of my resume, only showing my masters?

    Best Regards.

    1. I am currently networking and also applying online, will the low undergrad GPA 3.0~ get me an auto ding? I have a 3.5~ Grad school GPA. Also have very decent co-op work experience

      1. M&I - Nicole

        It depends, though your grad school GPA can potentially help you compensate for your low undergrad GPA

    2. M&I - Nicole

      Yes I think so.

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