by Brian DeChesare Comments (259)

How To Write An Investment Banking Resume

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Note: For more detailed and up-to-date information on investment banking resumes please see the following articles:

99% of investment banking resumes I’ve seen fall into 1 of 2 categories:

  1. They are already impressive and don’t need much work aside from minor formatting issues.
  2. 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.

Common Problems

The two most common problems:

  1. Not being specific enough.
  2. 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.

And one way investment bankers distinguish themselves from lawyers and other professionals is getting paid for results rather than hours.

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.

Results Oriented

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.

Formatting Issues

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:

  1. Use one of the resume templates listed below to fix 90% of the basic problems.
  2. Once you’re done, let your resume “sit” for a day or two before editing it.
  3. 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.

Resume Templates

To get 90% of your questions on resumes answered, check out and use the resume templates and tutorials below:

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. Hi Brian and M&I Team,
    I have a resume based question. I’m a recently retired professional athlete, currently 4 months into my MBA. During my career as a professional athlete I brokered deals between other athletes and companies like Nike, Oakley, etc.. I was also brought on board by one of the largest sporting good manufacturers in the world to advise on Brand Mgmt. My question for you is if it’s okay to include a brief (1 or 2 sentence) summary in an MBA level resume (for both full-time positions and summer associateships). The reason is that my experience section is extremely diverse for someone targeting banking, and also the experience timeline can look a bit odd because I was maintaining a professional athletic career while brokering athlete/brand deals and running brand mgmt. The other option is just to let the dates in my experience section be self-explanatory
    Thanks!

    1. Yes, you could do that if you’re coming from a very different background. But you should also consolidate your Work Experience section and simplify the timing so that it doesn’t look like you jumped around too much.

      1. Much appreciated.

  2. If I had an internship at a company and then it turn into a full time offer, do I show both positions on my resume or just the full time position? Or if I was running out of room to do I just show the full time position?

    1. Just the full-time position if you need the space (and maybe add a few words saying that you interned there first).

  3. Brandon Singh

    I’m currently a Private Wealth Management and Research Intern. Just curious how I can relate experience here to an IB directed resume for an internship. Also, would IB firms (boutiques mostly as i went to a non-target w 3.1 gpa) laugh at wealth management experience when looking at resumes?

    1. https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/last-minute-investment-banking-recruiting/

      “A: Bankers did not care about my PWM experience at all, so I made it sound more relevant by pointing out my exposure to M&A deals there.

      I said, “I was very interested in working in finance and advising clients, so I accepted the PWM offer. When some of the companies we followed were involved in M&A deals, I became a lot more interested in transactions and began learning all I could about investment banking.

      I’ve now analyzed several companies in Industry X, and I’m particularly interested in your bank and group since you’ve worked on a lot of deals in that industry.”

  4. I have a question in regards to what to include on my resume. I have a different background than most people going for an IB job. I started with an undergrad in design followed by two years of random job unrelated to my degree or business, then got an mba degree as a fulltime student followed by a year and a half of accounting experience and soon to be starting a summer internship as a business valuation intern.

    I have not updated me resume yet to include the upcoming internship and currently I have an M&A project on my resume I did while I was in the MBA program. I will be running out of room to include everything on one page but in interviews I frequently get asked about my work experience in between undergrad and grad school. Right now i have short listings of a couple of those random jobs I did in between school. Should I get rid of these when adding the internship to my resume or keep them as a single line item with just the job title company and date without any bullets?

    1. My thought is either get rid of the m&a project info from the resume to free up room and keep the random jobs in between school on there or just take out the random job line items. I am not sure if employers would still care to ask or focus on my experience in between degrees as i add more current experience to my resume.

      Is it bad to include jobs with no bullets on a resume just to show what you did during a time rather than have people think there are random gaps with no work experience?

    2. I would just consolidate the experience in between undergrad and business school into 2-3 lines and use just 1 line for the actual description. You don’t want a gap of 2 years, but you also don’t want to go into too much detail on random/unrelated experience. The M&A project is useful to include, so leave it on, but maybe shorten it a bit.

      1. Thanks for the help. One last question. What would you say is smallest acceptable font size to go down to on a resume?

        1. I would not go below 11. And 12 is better so it’s more readable. Cut and simplify to make everything fit.

  5. Hi Brian and Nicole,

    I’m currently doing an MBA (not a targeted school) and hoping to get an summer analyst role? Would banks consider MBAs for an analyst role? Also any tips and idea where I can use this to my advantage? Many thanks!

    Sam

    1. Banks won’t consider MBAs for Analyst roles, but you can get in from a non-target school:

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/sales-to-investment-banking-mba-level/

  6. Hi M&I team,
    As to the format, how would adding “Relevant Coursework” to the Investment Banking resume template do? Surely after providing certain skill set and experiences in Financial Modeling, coursework should be redundant. However, is it ok to include them on a resume if they’re sure to shed a fair impression in certain unique skill sets applying to other areas of the IB business, such as Risk Management, Volatility Modeling or Actuarial Science … Do you think they are unessestial per the norm?
    Thanks …

    1. You can add it, sure, but that type of section mostly helps if you don’t have much real work experience yet. I don’t think the others would help unless you apply to risk management roles.

  7. Can this also be used as a universal template?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’m not sure about universally but it can be used for other industries I believe.

  8. Hi Brian/NIcole,

    Is it acceptable to put school project (for school credit) for a major bank under my “experience” column? We didn’t work in the office and proposed several ideas to MD regarding to his research interest.

    Thanks.

    Best,
    Gavin

    1. M&I - Nicole

      If you don’t have other work experience, then yes, I’d include your school project under experience and spin it to make it sound more “professional.”

      1. I do have some other descent work experience, but in smaller firms. The capital markets group of this commercial and investment bank is the most respected one locally. I was wondering whether putting a school project for the group (only 4 students were selected for the project) would more likely hurt or help for my application. Some people say I was not actually an employee for the bank and putting the project under experience will look very unprofessional. What would be your idea?

        1. M&I - Nicole

          Yes I’d include the school project and just list clearly that you have only been involved in the project and is not an employee at the firm.

          1. Thanks for your advice. To clarify it is a project, should I add a “project” after company name or use “School Project Student” as my title under experience? (assuming that I want to include it under experience).

          2. M&I - Nicole

            Yes this maybe helpful.

  9. Hello BIWS, great article!

    In regards to article point # 1 “not being specific enough”, is it always appropriate to include a deal transaction price? For example, I was exposed to a acquisition deal where company A acquired company B at $XXX price. Is it appropriate to list the “$XXX” into your resume as a bullet point? Or should you leave the “$XXX” price out?

    The reason I ask is because these deals actually happened, but it seems to not be publicized much at the PRIVATE company I work at. If one were to “Google” it, articles such as WSJ do have it online and it has a transaction value on it, so it is technically “public” information if you search for it. So, I am not sure if including the actual transaction price would reflect negatively on me to potential i-banks looking to hire (perhaps a violation of company code ethics; aka employee revealing company “private” information)?

    Thank you!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes you can include such information as long as the info is public.

      1. Thank you! :)

  10. Hi Brian/NIcole,
    1. Is it acceptable to put your GPA/Degree Class (in the UK) into the same line as the qualification one is obtaining?
    E.g.: BSc Economics: First Class (currently XX%) ?
    2. Is it recommended to bold the word “scholarship”, which I list directly in education, or does bolding seem to pushy (in the UK)?

    Keep up the great articles.
    Michael.

  11. Michael Smith

    Hello,

    I go to a target school, and I have a 3.5 gpa. However, this summer (I’m a rising junior) I only have a secretary position (getting coffee and the like). How do I make myself competitive for recruiting next year?

    1. We have some tips here:

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/bad-summer-finance-internship/

      Long story short: learn a lot on your own, turn independent projects into “deal/client experience,” and network during your downtime.

  12. I have shadowed an investment banker for two months. I learned a lot. But can i title this experience as intern or summer analyst training program on my resume?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Intern perhaps if you had an official intern title? I’d ask the firm/the banker you worked with for his suggestions. But I’d think intern is a fine title.

  13. Hi I’m going for IB analyst positions during this recruiting cycle. I started an investment banking internship at a boutique about a week ago. I’m wondering how soon I can put that experience on my resume as deadlines are fast approaching. I don’t have another IB internship experience and I think it would help my chances significantly. I feel like it would appear dishonest to put it now as I wouldn’t be able to talk about my experience extensively at an interview, but if I do, it would really increase my chances of getting the interview.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes I’d list your current experience on there and the tasks you’ll be doing for the firm. List it as “Set to perform XX”

  14. Hi,

    Should specific monetary values related to the bullet points on the resume be included? For example, instead of:

    “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,”

    should you add something like:

    “In preparation for a $100MM acquisition, researched over 100 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”?

    Thanks,
    -Matt

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes its useful to include the monetary values

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