I get a lot of questions on how to structure your resume, how to write about your experience, what to focus on, and how much to write.
Rather than writing a giant Q&A on all these topics, I’m going to give you a resume/CV template that you can just copy and modify for your own experiences.
But I’ll Have the Same Resume as Everyone Else!
No, because only 0.1% of those who see this template will actually download it and use it. Don’t overestimate the competition.
And even though this site is well-known, only a tiny fraction of those interested in investment banking have visited it.
If you are worried, just modify the formatting and use different fonts, spacing, or margins.
Now let’s get on with the template and video:
Note: You should always submit your resume in PDF format unless they tell you otherwise.
Here’s the tutorial video:
(For more free training and financial modeling videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel.)
And if you don’t like to watch or can’t watch, here it is in text:
Notice how this is very compact – investment bankers only spend 30 seconds reading your resume, so you want to hit on the key points rather than overloading them with irrelevant information.
Avoid 0.25″ margins and size 8 font unless you absolutely can’t fit everything – try to use 0.5″ margins at a minimum and preferably at least 0.75″ (like you see here).
Decreasing the font size is better than decreasing the margins if you need to fit more information on the page – but again, you should make sure everything you include is both necessary and useful.
We have 4 main sections: the Header, Education, Work & Leadership Experience and Skills, Activities & Interests.
All the entries are right-aligned for the dates and locations – to do that, you go into “Styles” in Word and create a New Style with right-aligned tabs (just watch the video to see how to do this, it’s really hard to explain in text).
1 Page Only, Please (With Some Exceptions…)
Before anyone mentions it – yes, I know Australia is an exception to this rule and resumes there often go on for 2-3 pages even for entry-level positions.
For the rest of the world, however, it’s a much safer bet to stick to 1 page unless you are applying to Managing Director-level positions (and if you’re reading this website, that is probably not you, though I’m sure some MDs do read).
Center the header, make sure your name is in bigger font than the rest (so they remember who you are), and write your address, phone number and email address right below that.
There’s not much more to it than that – keep it short, don’t include stars or symbols, and please, keep photos of your pet rabbit off your resume (I’ve seen all of the above before…).
There are some regions where it’s acceptable to include your own photo here, so go ahead and do that if it’s common practice.
Note: Never include your picture on your resume in the US, even if one of your “interests” is “professional modeling.”
If you’re still in university, this should always be at the top – I can’t think of a good reason why it would be anywhere else.
The key points: where you go to school, what your major is, graduation date, and GPA/SAT score. Honors, Relevant Coursework, and Research are actually all optional, but they’re good to include if you have something business/finance-related to write about.
You absolutely need to include your GPA, even if it’s “bad” (below 3.5) – otherwise they will think it’s “really bad” (below 2.0). SAT scores are more optional, but I would leave them in if they’re over 1400 in the old system or over 2100 in the new system.
If you’re outside the US, you would write your grades in your own system here – in the UK, for example, you might write “Earned 2.1 cumulative average.” Class rank is also fine if you don’t receive official “grades.”
If your GPA is poor then you can “hide” it by also listing:
- Major GPA
- 2nd/3rd Year GPA (this is more of a stretch and only works if you can show a strong improvement trend)
You can also list study abroad or summer program experiences here – these should be included as separate education entries if you have the space.
Don’t include high school unless you just got to college and have no real experience yet – or unless you went to a top school with a lot of alumni in finance (Andover / Exeter in the US).
Don’t include clubs, activities, or certifications here – those should be in one of the 2 sections below this instead.
Work & Leadership Experience – The Rule of 3?
You should aim for between 2 and 4 major work experience entries. Don’t make a laundry list of all 27 different clubs you’ve been in, because there’s no way you had major accomplishments for all of them.
Think about what a banker reading your resume would want to know – here are a few examples:
- You had an internship at an asset management firm and then at a hedge fund – and you also started your own business fraternity. Each of these should be an entry, and you should devote most of your space to the internships.
- You worked at a boutique bank over the summer, and have spent 20 hours/week on a Varsity sport at school – these should be your major entries (yes, sports are fine to list under “Work & Leadership Experience” but in this case you definitely want to focus on the boutique bank).
- You were in 4 clubs at school and also had an internship at Goldman Sachs (in any group). DO NOT write about each of these as if they were equal – Goldman Sachs is exponentially more important than your clubs, so spend half your resume on GS, pick the 2 activities where you contributed most, and write a few lines about each of them.
Together or Separate?
You’ll notice I grouped “Work Experience” WITH “Leadership Experience” here – that’s because you probably have a few internships and also a few activities you spend a lot of time on. Grouping these together under one heading saves space and makes your activities seem more like “work experience.”
But let’s say you had 4 investment banking internships (summer and part-time) – in that case, I would probably just call this section “Work Experience” and focus on the 3 most recent ones.
If you’ve had absolutely no real internships or other work experience, you should still call this section “Work & Leadership Experience” to give the impression you did.
Structure of Each Entry
There’s this idea floating around that you should have 3 work experience entries, and then 3 bullets within each one of them – in principle this sounds reasonable, but in practice it can be difficult to include exactly 3 bullets for each entry.
The better way to approach this: decide on a Project-Centric or Task-Centric structure for each entry, and then write everything based around one of those.
In both cases, you start out with a Summary Sentence stating what you did and the major results of your work (if you know them).
For an investment banking internship, the Summary Sentence might be “Worked on 3 live deals and created valuations using public company comparables, precedent transactions, and DCF analysis; worked with clients to develop management presentations and Executive Summaries.”
For a marketing internship, the Summary Sentence might be “Worked with 2 major clients in media & entertainment industries and developed advertising campaigns to promote new seasons of top-rated network TV shows.”
The Project-Centric structure starts off with the Summary Sentence and then goes into “Selected Project Experience” (or “Selected Client Experience” or “Selected Transaction Experience” or “Selected Investment Experience”).
Use the Project-Centric structure for:
- Investment banking/private equity/hedge fund experience
- Consulting (any kind)
- Anything else involving specific clients or companies – equity research, wealth management, law, accounting, etc.
Pick the 2 or 3 best projects (for internships, these will likely be the ones you did the most work on) and then give a single bullet or two describing what you did for each one (more on that below).
Listing just 1 project or client looks weird – but don’t list 8 different projects either, as you want to focus on the most relevant ones.
If you’re listing these for an investment banking internship, you should use titles such as:
- Pharmaceutical Company’s Potential $150 Million Acquisition of Biomedical Devices Company
- Technology Company’s $250 Million Initial Public Offering
For anything on the buy-side (PE, HF, VC), you might use:
- Potential $1 Billion Investment in Manufacturing Company
And for experience outside finance, you would use similarly descriptive titles and avoid naming specific companies unless whatever you worked on was announced to the public.
The Task-Centric structure is not that much different – we still have a Summary Sentence at the beginning, but we separate the work by tasks and responsibilities rather than by specific projects or clients.
This format is best for part-time jobs (you worked as a sales rep at Radio Shack one summer – not your “part-time job” at Lazard), activities, and anything else outside finance – like research or engineering.
If you can re-position what you did to make it sound like specific projects then you should definitely do so – but if it’s a stretch, don’t bother.
Kevin said this doesn’t work as well for management consulting, but it definitely helps with finance because bankers look at it quickly and say, “Aha! It looks like they worked on deals!”
Ready, Fire, Aim: How to Properly Structure Your Bullets
Each bullet you write on your resume needs to do 2 things:
- Say, specifically, what you did. Numbers are good, as is the proper lingo. “Valued client using DCF, liquidation analysis, and public company comparables” is better than “Valued companies.”
- Give the results of what you did – and yes, I know that you don’t always have them. Numbers are good, but even something qualitative like “Resulted in private equity firm proceeding with additional due diligence” is better than nothing.
The order here doesn’t matter that much, so go with whatever sounds more natural – if you give the specifics first you should use a semicolon to separate it from the results.
If you go with the results first, you should use “by” to separate each part, as in “Supported senior bankers’ effort to negotiate 5% lower price for client by creating merger model to analyze best-case, average, and worst-case scenarios.”
If you have an extremely lengthy description, then it’s fine to include the specifics all on one line and then make a separate line for the results.
Skills, Activities & Interests
Surprisingly, this is the one section where you see the greatest number of mistakes and outright silly writing. Let’s start with the list of common mistakes:
- Leaving it out entirely (only do this if you’re much older).
- Going on for too long (10+ lines).
- Failing to list useful/interesting Skills, like Language abilities, and instead listing every single club you were in since age 5.
- “Fluent in English” – Except your resume is already in English, so I’d be really concerned if you didn’t know the language…
- “Proficient in Microsoft Office/Excel” – This might have been impressive in 1992. Not so much today.
Keep this section simple and list any language proficiencies first, followed by technical skills (real ones, like programming languages), and then you can list your financial modeling/CFA courses next, followed by a line or two on more minor Activities, and then your Interests at the end.
This is a more subtle point, but when you’re picking your Interests try to list interesting Interests. Don’t just write “Running” – write that you “Competed in marathons in 13 countries across Europe and North America.”
Even though this isn’t “work experience,” the same strategies hold true – be specific, focus on what’s memorable, and try to go in-depth with only a few areas rather than giving a laundry list with minimal details.
If you’re not a university student, don’t despair: just look these other resume templates and tutorials:
“But wait,” you say, “this resume is too [boring / narrow / insert other negative adjective here].”
That’s nice, but the purpose of a resume is not to show off your artistic skills or creativity.
It’s to win the attention of time-strapped bankers and land interviews.
Yes, the design above may not be “stylish” but it’s effective and makes it very easy for bankers to quickly assess you.
As mentioned above, there are regions such as Australia where resumes / CVs are more personal and go on for several pages.
I don’t want to get in a debate about cultural differences – it is what it is, and the template above works great for the US, Europe, Asia, and most other regions outside of Australia.
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