Note: For more detailed and up-to-date information on investment banking resumes please see the following articles:
- University Student Investment Banking Resume Template
- Investment Banker Applying to Buyside Resume Template
- MBA/Experienced Investment Banking Resume Template
99% of investment banking resumes I’ve seen fall into 1 of 2 categories:
- They are already impressive and don’t need much work aside from minor formatting issues.
- They are OK but suffer from common problems.
Most fall into category #2 – but the good news is that it’s not hard to fix these common problems.
The two most common problems:
- Not being specific enough.
- Not focusing on results.
Two of the pre-requisites for investment banking are attention to detail and being able to count.
So if one bullet on your resume reads, “Compiled information on acquisitions,” bankers reviewing it might think that you can neither count nor remember any detail about what you did.
So you need to focus on the results.
Attention To Detail / Are You Sure You Can Count?
Here’s an example of what NOT to write on your resume:
- “Researched acquisition targets in the construction and home-building industries”
It’s an improvement over what I wrote above – but we could still add a lot more detail here.
What criteria did you use for selecting the acquisition targets? Was it based on their revenue/market cap/profitability/valuation? How did you narrow down the list from hundreds to tens?
Beyond just the detail, there’s also the problem of counting. How many targets did you research? How many interested the buyers you pitched them to?
Here’s an improved version of the same bullet point:
- “Researched over 100 acquisition targets in the construction and home-building industries and narrowed list down to 10 companies using financial criteria such as revenue growth and EBITDA margins”
This is still not the best it could be, but it’s an improvement over the first attempt.
We’re still missing one key ingredient: the results of whatever you did.
Sometimes you just don’t have results: you don’t know what happened, or you left the company before anything took place.
If that’s the case and you really don’t know, it’s fine to leave them out.
But I would suggest “stretching” here and trying to come up with something to write about, even if it’s not 100% concrete or did not save or earn the company millions of dollars.
Here’s how we might add a result to the example of acquisition target research above:
- “Researched over 100 acquisition targets in the construction and home-building industries and narrowed list down to 10 companies using financial criteria such as revenue growth and EBITDA margins; resulted in private equity firm conducting additional due diligence on 3 companies“
Often there’s no real way to know how many companies they were really interested in – but conjecture is fine, especially if you’re not making any bold claims.
Again, it’s fine not to have results for every single entry, but try to use this structure wherever possible.
Usually if you “stretch” and think about the potential impact of your work – even if it’s small – you can come up with something.
I also see quite a few formatting issues with resumes. But if recruiters only spend around 30 seconds reading your resume, what’s the big deal?
Simple: the Analysts and Associates who review your resume can find formatting errors very quickly. Practically half the job of an investment banking analyst is to locate formatting mistakes in PowerPoint and fix them.
So when your dates are not aligned or you italicize text incorrectly or make a blatant spelling mistake, we can see it in 10 seconds or less.
If you want to fix formatting problems on your resume, do the following:
- Use one of the resume templates listed below to fix 90% of the basic problems.
- Once you’re done, let your resume “sit” for a day or two before editing it.
- Print it out, give a copy to a friend, and have your friend review it while you’re also looking at it in detail for mistakes.
To get 90% of your questions on resumes answered, check out and use the resume templates and tutorials below: