by Brian DeChesare Comments (161)

How Investment Bankers Read Your Resume

How Investment Bankers Read Your Resume

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 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:

  • 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% 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. Hello, I’m currently entering my junior year of a dual Accounting/Finance degree at a semi-target and am actively seeking IB internships.
    Up until this year I had been working full time as a air traffic controller at a major international airport.
    Q: Do you think my experience will give me an advantage over my peers who have not yet had an IB internship (or anything even closely related)? or since it is not finance related experience it wont be valued by recruiters. There are obviously a few parallels between the two, namely the long hours, stress and extreme attention to detail

    Any thoughts?

    Thank you

    Dan

    1. In theory, yes, your experience should help as it’s highly relevant in terms of hours, attention to detail, etc. In practice, IB recruiters are stupid and tend to use tunnel vision to find candidates, so you’ll be at a disadvantage vs. students who have IB internships. I would recommend finding some kind of part-time internship at a local firm ASAP.

  2. Hey Brian,

    I am a big fan of your website and I would just like to thank you for taking the time to write great articles.

    I come from a non-target business school (JMSB, Montreal) and my GPA is only 3.3…however I am absolutely certain I can raise it to a 3.6 before the 2017 summer. Should I put 3.3 or 3.6? I am majoring in finance, with a minor in mathematics and statistics. I recently interned at Bell Canada (telecommunications company) and I was a financial analyst manager. What are your views on this?

    1. If you’re certain you can raise it to 3.6 by the time you apply to banks / by the time they possibly request transcripts, then yes, you can list it as 3.6.

  3. Avatar
    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?

    Best,
    Adham

    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.

  4. 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. Avatar
      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.

  5. Avatar
    Christian

    Hi,

    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. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

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

  6. Avatar
    Michael Smith

    Hello,

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

  7. Great post.

  8. 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. Avatar
      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. Avatar
          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. Avatar
            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.

  9. 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. Avatar
      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. Avatar
          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

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

    1. Avatar
      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. Avatar
          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.

  11. 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. Avatar
      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.

  12. 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. Avatar
      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.

  13. 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. Avatar
        M&I - Nicole

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

    2. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes I think so.

  14. Hi M&A, I are looking for landing a summer internship in IBD. I’m concerned about the listing of work experiences on my resume. I attended one of those one month “IB training programs” at one of the BB’s in NY freshman yr summer. I didn’t get any work to do – it was just numerous training sessions followed by networking events. I guess the only thing ibd related is the final case comp we were assigned to and my team did win the 1st place out of…6 competing teams. Should I list this under experience on my resume and if so, could you give me some advice on how to embellish it a little to make it seem more… legit?

    This past summer I decided to try markets so I interned with a small trading firm in NY and honestly I couldn’t see myself as a trader so that’s why I’m switching back to the banking route. I know trading is far from banking but since I want to list my trading intern experience on my resume anyways, is there anyways I can make my internship looks more “banking-attractive”?

    My last question is (and thanks for the patience!), I am currently working on campus as a computer consultant for school’s computer lab. I’m not sure if I should list this under “experience” but I dunno where I should put this. If I list it under experience chronologically, then at a first glance my past finance related experience wont seem that obvious since the first one listed is a campus job. What’s your take on this?

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments in advance;)

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes you can list the final case comp, what you did/analyzed there, the outcome of your analysis, your recommendation and result – 1st place out of 6

      Yes, focus on the analytical work you’ve done in your trading role.

      If you have space on your resume (max. one-page) I may list this experience under Professional & Leadership Experience, but I may not list your experiences chronologically. I may list this experience below your finance experience. Or you can even create a separate section titled “Other Experience” below “Finance Experience”

  15. Is it possible to send in my résumé via higher-ups (SVP/Director/MD) @ some BB for an internship without the usual route via HR if you know them via someone such as college professors or ex-supervisors?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      You can send your resume through seniors, though they’ll likely forward your resume to HR/you may still have to go through the standard application process. If you were to apply for boutiques/smaller firms, there may be an exception because the process may not be as “rigid”

  16. Would you please take a quick review of my CV and covering letter? I am looking for analyst roles within IBD.

    CV: http://www.razume.com/documents/31158

    Cover Letter: http://www.razume.com/documents/31159

    All constructive comments are welcome.

    Also I recently applied for a long term internship in a bank. I have been in communication with my contacts in HR and it seems my application has not been forwarded for 1st round interview by the business teams.

    But there is still one week to go for CV reviews. I got in touch with an alumni at MD level in a different department and here is our correspondence, please tell what to make of it, I am not sure what to do now;

    Me:

    Greetings…..

    I hope you are well, it has been a long time indeed, I hope you remember me. The holidays were great, I spent some time working as a Quant for a small Hedge Fund and prepping for IBD applications and interviews.

    I hope all is well with you at Credit Suisse? I noticed quite a few people at other firms no longer appear on the employee register (and were made redundant), in some cases after 15 to 20 years with their respective firms, so IBD must indeed be a tetchy space right now. I either must be a glutton for punishment or it must be the fact that I really cannot imagine doing anything else because i still have a laser sharp focus on a career in IBD.

    In fact I am applying for the autumn internship this September with Credit Suisse. I know you must receive a tsunami of applications, so I enclosed my CV here with the hope that if you believe it to be good, you could bring it to the attention of recruitment for me.

    Let me know?

    Kind Regards

    His Reply:

    Hi ………,

    Thank you for your email. The business environment is, indeed, challenging although opportunities do present themselves as our competitors cut capacity.

    Your CV looks very impressive and I wish you luck with your application.

    I hope to see you at Credit Suisse in the autumn.

    Regards,

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thanks for your email. Unfortunately, we aren’t able to review your resume and cover letter on this comments page. You may want to refer to our resume editing services if this resonates with you.

      You may want to shorten your first paragraph (no need to talk about how you’re prepping for IBD apps). I’d delete the 2nd paragraph. 3rd paragraph – I’d ask him if he has any suggestions on how to increase your chances versus what you wrote

      He is a very patient and graceful person for responding to you. Please thank him for his time and response. I don’t think many bankers would respond to your last email, and I may be wrong. Good luck!

      1. Hi Nicole

        what do you think about this email to follow up:

        Dear ……..

        Thank you very much for your kind response, HR informs me that there is still one week of CV reviewing to go although i have not been selected for round 1 interviews at this time. I wonder if you could suggest ways I could improve my chances?

        Kind Regards

        ………….

        1. or this version:

          Hi ………

          Thank you for your kind response. I hope everything goes well with CV reviews this week, Credit Suisse seems like a fantastic place to work.

          I wonder how do you think I could imptove my chances

          ………

          1. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            The prior one is better.

        2. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          This sounds better.

  17. hi would you have a quick review of my cv, i’m loooking for entry level investment banking jobs

    http://www.razume.com/documents/31157

    all constructive commens appreciated, thanks

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thanks for your email. Unfortunately, we aren’t able to review your resume on this comments page. You may want to refer to our resume editing services if this resonates with you.

  18. Do you have any advice for making the most of a PE internship this year (origination role) with an aim to apply to IBD next summer as an analyst?

    If I put knowledge of Java, PHP, Perl, VBA on my CV, is it likely that i’d be tested going for an IB role?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I don’t think its likely they will test these skills. However, if you list such skills on your resume, there may be a chance that an interviewer who happens to have such knowledge may throw you one or two questions you on these topics.

      1. Thank you! And is it a bad idea to put interests with an element of gambling (horse racing, poker)?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          No, it may be useful for sales and trading roles because sales & trading has an element of gambling

  19. Two quick questions:

    1. My GPA is a 3.6 on a 4.0 scale, which is OK but definitely not a stand-out GPA. Would it be OK to just say GPA: Cum Laude, or is it important to include the actual value?

    2. I am very recent college graduate (I’m poor), so in lieu of trading my own money, I enjoy mock trading. Does it just sound juvenile to include that as an interest, or would it be valuable to list it?

    Thanks so much!

    1. 1. Include the value, 3.6 is good enough and if you leave it out they’ll assume you had a 2.5 or something.

      2. You can include it, but if you have real internships / work experience it’s better to focus on those.

  20. Hi,

    I was able to network with an MD of a MM bank and had a informal call about the firm. The MD forwarded my resume to their HR department, so since my resume was sent in by an MD, does that give me any better chance of being selected for 1st round interviews based on network or will be just be kept with others who apply online? Thanks.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes it does. Good luck!

  21. Hi, How can get a job in investment banking if you graduate from a obscure school?

  22. I graduated from a top Big10 school, and managed to land a job in the M&A team of a consulting firm in an emerging market. My GPA is a 2.0, and I feel that this will still kill my chances into moving into PE or getting into a top B-School.

    I’ve been working for 5 years, and have some solid work experience.

    Any thoughts?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Not necessarily since you’ve been working for 5 years already. As long as you have good recs and solid work experience I don’t think your GPA should prevent you from moving into PE or top bschool. Try to get a higher GMAT score if you want to compensate for your low GPA on bschool apps

  23. Thanks so much for all of this, really!

    I am currently a rising sophomore at Brown University, which is not necessarily a target school but still has some name recognition. I am currently pursuing economics (my school does not have a finance or accounting track) and political science. Up until this summer, I was more interested in politics but had an economic development internship in my local government which got me interesting in finance. Do you think my background and political interests will discredit me to possible internships? Thanks again!

    1. No, but you need to have a good story that explains how you got interested in finance or they’ll be skeptical next to people who already have internships / people who have taken accounting or finance classes.

      1. Morgan Stanley has a public finance internship program which is very relevant to what I am doing this summer in economic development (issuing bonds, refinancing businesses). I will be between sophomore and junior year next year – do you think it is a waste for me to do that internship as a way of breaking into the industry for a possible investment banking internship the following year? Another possibility is a global economic/investments research internship. What are your thoughts on that?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          No, I think having MS on your name will help you. Having global economics/investments research experience can help you esp if you want a job in research or buy-side

    2. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Not necessarily though its best if you can demonstrate your knowledge of finance and passion in the industry.

      1. Morgan Stanley has a public finance internship program which is very relevant to what I am doing this summer in economic development (issuing bonds, refinancing businesses). I will be between sophomore and junior year next year – do you think it is a waste for me to do that internship as a way of breaking into the industry for a possible investment banking internship the following year? Another possibility is a global economic/investments research internship. What are your thoughts on that?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          I’ve responded to this comment earlier. Pls refer to my response.

  24. I was wondering if doing internships in other jobs (accounting, actuarial, IT, …) in addition to banking internships is a good idea. I have enough time (and opportunity) to do both, but will it seem as if I am unsure about a career in banking? Or will this varied experience improve my chances?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes you can do another internship outside of banking if you want to experience what being in other industries is like. I believe this could broaden your horizon. If you’ve had great experience there, you can leave it on your resume. Otherwise, you can leave it out so this won’t make you look “distracted.” Not sure if this experience can improve your chances and bankers tend to prefer candidates with relevant skills

      1. Thanks for the quick reply! One more thing, I have a high GPA, but my grades from first year are 10-15% lower than other years (admittedly because of excessive partying). Banks here (in South Africa) ask for all academic transcripts with your resume and I have a feeling this is the reason I didn’t get an internship with any of the big banks. What can I put on my resume (or anywhere else) to ‘explain’ these grades?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          I don’t know how useful it is to explain your grades on your resume, though you can put a * beside your GPA and explain your grades if you really want to
          To get an internship with the banks, I’d suggest you to network a lot so hiring manager will know you before you submit you resume. If the hiring managers like you, you may be able to pass through the resume cut-off and get an interview.

  25. I am a junior majoring in Economics and Mathematics at a non-Ivy League target school. My interests in the investment banking industry have grown exponentially in the past year. Recently, I have been having some difficulty obtaining an internship for the summer. My GPA is average but am involved in a variety of clubs and organizations around campus. I hope to obtain an internship for the summer but my main concern is breaking into the investment banking industry without having an internship relevant to banking. What can I do to insure an interview with a middle market or bulge bracket firm with a not so strong GPA and mainly pure knowledge about the technical aspects of the industry?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Network a lot, know your story – why IB, your strengths & weaknesses & how you can add value, rehearse your pitch and broadcast your pitch to people around you

  26. M&I,

    Fantastic site, great insights into even the smallest details.
    I received a couple of bb interviews for their entry level summer IM analyst positions (I go to a target school). But, I had to take the spring semester off due to certain unforseen circumstances back home in Dubai due to which I was not able to interview with them. Do you think it would be appropriate to ask banks if they could defer my interview till Fall (when fulltime hiring happens)?
    Also, I have internships in a big mngmnt consulting firm and a series of prominent engineering names as I am an engineer by my undergrad (No finance bkground! Just plain interest in IM through lots of reading) I am now doing my masters (MS in Engineering Management). Is it worth the shot extensively preparing for a career in IM? Thanks

    1. Sure, it’s worth it to ask. Not sure I understand your second question but IM interviews are not that much different… if you’re interested I would prepare.

  27. M & I,

    I recently received an investment banking offer and am about to undergo a background check. After reading one of the articles on this site about GPA rounding, I rounded my 3.43 to a 3.5 to meet the minimum cut-off. Now, after getting the offer, I am a little nervous about this. Am I completely in the clear in this aspect? Could I have my offer rescinded because of this? I would really appreciate your input. Thanks.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Hm, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. You’ve already got the offer and rounded your GPA. If they ask then you can explain. There isn’t too much you can do at this point. Can’t say if they will rescind the offer or not, but I think you may be thinking too much cause of your “guilt”

  28. I would like to first thank everyone at M&I for the great site, tons of valuable information. My question is this: I’ve been cold calling some local boutique firms and I’ve had a few bankers tell me to email them my resume. Is there anything I can say in the email that might really stand out or increase my odds of getting an interview? (other than please and thank you)
    Thanks M&I!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Brief intro of who you are, where you studied and what sort of work you did. Tell them you are v interested in what they do and was wondering if you could ask them for advice in breaking into the industry etc (or if you really want an internship this summer, make the ask) Attach your resume.

  29. Hello,

    Great article. I was wondering if it would make sense to attend NYU with student loans for undergrad instead of going to a school more within my price range. Are the advantages worth a loan? Thank you.

    1. To go into investment banking after undergrad, I meant. I’m not sure if I made that clear.

      Thank you!

    2. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      NYU is a target school so that would increase your chances of getting into banking. Advantages with a loan? Your call.

  30. I’ve been reading the site daily and have really enjoyed learning various tips and information that you provide.
    I have recently decided to pursue finance after a graduation project sparked my interest in particular sectors. I study the industry and have been expanding my knowledge of modeling and other banking fundamentals in hopes to show prospective banks that I know my stuff. How can I list my knowledge on my resume if none of my knowledge has come from formal training or banking positions?
    Thank you!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Have you had any internship experience? If so, list that. If not, I think you’ll have to list your knowledge on your cover letter instead. You can also list your graduation project if it is finance-related

      1. Hi, Brian.
        A quick question:
        are Colgate University and Georgetown University target schools?

        Thx.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          G’town is – I went there! Not sure about Colgate.

  31. If you won the National IBD Competition, should you list it above Education, if your GPA is not strong?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Normally, I’d list it under awards at bottom of resume. However, if your GPA is not above a 3.0, perhaps it is a good idea to list it under your university name.
      GPA: XX/XX
      Honors: XX; Awards: XX

  32. I got six years experience in banking. I started out as a teller. Now I am a Personal Banker. This is my first job right out of high school. I don’t know anything else but banking. I want to change position like assistant manager or manager in a branch. How do I structure my resume and making it sound interesting within that 30 seconds? Please help…

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Focus on your leadership experience if you want to be a manager in a branch.

  33. Hi!

    I have two questions:
    1. Is BC(Boston College) a target school for IB?
    2. How can I use my CLOSE connection with someone at an IB firm at the application process? She is an associate-level at her position for almost 5 years. Is it even appropriate to ask for “internal resume dropping”?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1. Not a big target but I’d imagine some IB recruit there
      2. Yes, depending on how close you guys are, I’m sure she can help

  34. Brian,

    My apologies if this has been asked before, would you consider Rutgers a semi-target or a non-target?

    1. Non-target

  35. PS. Would an MSc Management from a target school offer any significant advantage for breaking into IBD? Should I wait 1 year and re-apply for an MSc Finance offer?

    1. More helpful if you didn’t go to non-target school but yes, MSc Finance probably better though do a search here for “Master’s”

  36. I’m looking to go into M&A/PE/Hedge Funds. My undergrad is in social science from a non-target uni. I have the option to do an internship with a mid-size VC firm-would this be at all helpful for getting to my desired roles?

    1. More helpful for M&A and PE and less so with HF

  37. Hi,

    First of all, this is a great website! Quick question: do you consider NYU Stern a target school for IBD MBA recruiting?

    Thanks!

  38. Hi M&I,

    I’m a 1st year analyst at one of the Top 2 investment banks in the middle east and was wondering if I should include one thing in my resume(I’m hoping to land a gig in London,New York,or Hong Kong, in that order of preference; Rothschild+BB):

    -My father’s family owns a large private corporation in the middle east(~USD$200 million), and I am regularly asked to attend board meetings and so on (I don’t have an official title).

    +

    I “represent” my mother’s interests in her family’s conglomerate (she has a stake as a part of her inheritance).

    How can I portray all of this in my resume?

    1. I would be careful about listing those kinds of things because it sends mixed messages (are you trying to insinuate that you can bring in those businesses as clients? Some bankers might take it that way). If you really want you can just say you attend board meetings for the private company but don’t play up the family connection part… some people might take it the wrong way and think you’re trying to use wealth/connections to get in.

  39. Hi Brian,

    Do you think it’s a good idea to put my resume in PDF format before sending over to a potential firm, or do you think I should just leave it in Microsoft Word document format?

    Thanks for your input.

    -Marc

    1. Resumes should ALWAYS be in PDF format

  40. Avatar
    kanishka

    hi… I have followed this site for some time and like it very much. I saw your coments about working in Indian captive KPOs. I have worked at one for last 18 months after my undergrad college. Now I want to break into front office (Bulge bracket, PE, or boutique). Can you pls guide me thru it

    1. Not sure there but there are some India-specific tips here: https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-india/

  41. Hi, I was wondering what your viewpoint on abbreviating in resumes is?

    I am currently editing my resume and am reducing some bullet points to one line, but used “&” once instead of “and” and am thinking of using “int’l” instead of “international”.

    1. Its ok if absolutely no other way but try not to use too much because it looks unprofessional

  42. I am currently a rising senior from Duke (will graduate spring 2012). I had to take a year off to work for my Dad’s property management company but I am now applying to IB firms for a summer internship (2011). I have a 3.0 and had heard conflicting views regarding leaving my GPA on my resume or not. Some friends have told me just to leave it off it is not higher than a 3.3. If I leave it off will firms just think it is really low? Also I missed recruitment in the fall because I was working so I am shifting my focus to more boutique firms. What is the best way to go about contacting them and trying to land an unpaid internship?

  43. I have been trying to find an answer for months and don’t know where to look or who to ask…

    I was reading this and hoped you would have an answer. I am graduating in May and am working on my resume so that I can start applying to jobs. I still do not know exactly what format to use in my case. I want to work in investment banking…eventually hedge funds.

    After reading this and other associated articles I am still confused. I do not come from a big “target” school and my GPA is only a 2.7, though I am a triple major, competed in NCAA division 1 Football as well as track and field, I also was president of my fraternity, Treasurer of the Investment club, and member of SIFE.

    My issue is I do not know how to make that my focus and show my rounded college experience as being more relevant than my GPA

  44. Hi Brian,

    Do I need to the relavent modules with marks in the CV? Quitely ironically, I have asked two HR from Barcap and Morgan Stanley about this issue respecially: one says absolutely yes, but the other says useless. What’s your comment on this?

    Thanks a lot,

    Eric

    1. Just keep it to 1-2 lines and it’s fine

  45. Hey Brian,

    Was wondering your thoughts on including a study abroad semester on your resume – it’s a renowned school for economics (University College London) and in a sense reinforces my listed interests (ie. travel). You think I should include it?

      1. I go to a top 15 business school and our career center recommends we use their resume template; what are your thoughts on using a school template (that presumably every other finance student will be using) vs the one on this site?

        1. Schools generally know nothing about banking so the one here is better… and pretty much everyone in finance uses these templates anyway

  46. Hi,

    I am a second year graduate student at Columbia (International Finance and Economics). Prior work experience: Summer Associate at a PE firm in China this past summer, and 3 years as an Analyst at Citigroup IBD NY.

    My question is in regard to how recruiters balance the wide range of inconstancy between schools when it comes to what a certain GPA indicates.

    For example, a 3.3 from many good schools could indicate that you slacked off, because if you had done the work you could have earned an A; however, from some other schools – in my case Columbia – the meaning is different. Columbia tends to curve almost every quant or professional school course to a B, so earning a 3.3 here generally indicates that you are slightly ahead of the curve, amongst a pool of driven and intelligent people who are definitely not slacking off at all.

    The required input to earn a B+ at Columbia could easily earn an A in many other decent schools — not necessarily because the work load is lighter but because of the difference in grading systems.

    I have no complaints, the experience here has been very good. I am just wondering how well this discrepancy is understood amongst recruiters? Assuming all else is equal, how would someone with a 3.3 from Columbia stack up against someone with a 3.9 from another good school — but one that does not curve to a B?

    Thank you, your blog and comments are insightful appreciated.

    //

    1. Most of the time recruiters select resumes from within specific university pools… so all Columbia resumes would be judged against one another, so it’s not really an issue.

  47. Hi,

    My GPA is otherwise terrible (below 3), but in one semester (out of 8) I worked quite hard and managed to end up in top 15% of the class.Should I have a CGPA = 2.6x, Final Year = 2.9x, Best Rank = Top 15%?

    Or should I just omit my GPA?

    1. Do not omit your GPA – what you suggested is fine.

  48. I would love some insight on where I should set my expectations and apply. I have a 4.0 in my MSF program but at U of Tampa(small private) and 3.7 from UF undgrd. 710 GMAT. Internship with respectable wealth mangagement firm.

    Do I have a shot at major city ibanking analyst openings or should I stick with smaller market or internship positions at top firms.

    1. Go for smaller firms unless you have killer connections at large banks – otherwise it’s almost impossible unless you have gone to a top school.

  49. Avatar
    Jim Wolfgangsson

    This site is AWESOME. I’m truely impressed and I’m loving all the articles.
    Is there some kind of personalized service, what I’m looking for is some sort of personal reviewing of my resume and additional tips and tricks that would apply to me personally.
    I’m starting a 2-years master at the London School of Economics and would really like to get an Investment Banking internship in the city for next summer.
    Thanks!

  50. I’m trying to update my resume and I currently have a position on there that I am thinking about taking off. It’s a part-time job as a tutor. Obviously it has nothing to do with banking, but it’s not like it’s a Best Buy job either. What would you recommend?

    1. I would take it off unless you need to fill the space

  51. Sorry one other point; would you happen to know how common it is for banks (or consulting firms for that matter) to keep a blacklist that auto-rejects previously unsuccessful applicants?

    1. It’s a myth, bankers are too lazy / HR is too disorganized to do this… only in extreme cases where someone actually remembers you would it happen

  52. Useful post, cheers.

    Are HR involved in any culling processes prior to giving resumes to bankers (based on the application forms/scores entered)?

    1. Rarely, other than maybe a very simple GPA cut

  53. Hi, you talk about ‘brand name’ Universities.

    I currently attend Imperial College London. It’s ranked 5th in the world and 3rd in Europe but the general public aren’t aware of this.

    It’s an all science institution and I’m wondering how well is it known in the states for say a banking job (As I want to apply for New york)

    Thanks for your time! :)

    1. It is well-known in some circles but less so than LSE / Oxford / Cambridge. Bankers will still be familiar with it though.

      1. Thanks for the speedy response! Makes sense I guess.

        Looking on Goldman sachs website, I see some of their current Analysts are ex alumni! :D

        Would it be a good idea to contact those people directly.

        btw I am getting ready to apply for an Investment banking analyst summer intern position.

        Any key tips, companies to apply for, networking advice..?

        I don’t know anyone in banking my only real contact is the Dean of Management at NYU… (family friend)

        1. Yes I would contact them directly. For recruiting tips see the “Recruiting” link at the top of the page – all the networking, resume, and interview-related articles are there.

          1. What’s the best way of getting current analysts to help you get an internship (or even higher people say VP’s)?

            I have joined the Alumni network at my university but I’m having problems with that (it’s not working! emailed tech).

            What can I google to get Analysts emails/no’s.

          2. They’re not on Google. You have to build a relationship with them to get anywhere… see all the articles on networking, The Banker Blueprint, Networking program etc. etc.

          3. Also, I’m a second year biologist so my financial knowledge is very basic!

            For the 2nd year undergrad Summer internships, how much financial knowledge is actually needed?

            If so, what core Finance books would you recommend?

            Thankfully I have a while to learn more!

          4. Just basic accounting and knowledge of valuation techniques

        2. So I guess that would be knowing what is on an income statement? some of the ratios etc.

          And for the models do you mean by ‘knowledge’ that I know of them and how they work…

          They wouldn’t expect me to know how to do model?

          I thought for a Summer internship and having a non-financial background they’d focus more on my background and why i want to do Investment banking..

          And I have read most of your site, it’s a brilliant help! :)

          1. Yes, just basic things, they would not expect you to build models for them in the interview.

  54. Thank you so much for your posts!
    I am curious though, is the resume reviewing process in S&T similar to what is described here for IB?

    1. Yes, though they may focus a bit more on your interest in the markets

  55. Avatar
    Jarrett

    I appreciate the reply and your site. Thanks!

  56. Avatar
    Jarrett

    I am curious if I am wasting my time in pursuing my dream of becoming an investment banker doing M&A work. Currently, I am a Process / Research consultant for an insurance company. At the same time, I am getting my MBA from a decent state school (Not top 20 though). I excelled in my undergrad and have been doig well in grad school. Also, I have been reading and focusing on all technical aspects to investment banking.

    I guess I am hung up on the fact that I am not in an Ivy League school nor live in an area that has a huge i-bank network (Southeast).

    So, back to my question, am I most likely wasting my time? I thought one thing that may be to my advantage was that I dont live in the Northeast with all the Ivy Leaguers…

    1. The problem is you don’t have a good avenue into banking recruiting right now – you need that to have a good shot. That will require either a lot of networking, a school that banks recruit at, or cold-calling, though cold-calling doesn’t work well at the senior levels.

  57. Hi there,

    Im working for big 4 in the Corporate finance team and we do quite a few smaller scaled M&A. Before crossing over to the advisory, i was in audit for 2 years (same big 4 firm of course). I wonder if big 4 CF experience would be an advantage for investment banking (specifically with large banks)?

    Thanks in advance.

    PS. Your site is very helpful!

    1. It definitely helps, though obviously it’s not as good as doing banking at a bank or something else related like PE.

  58. I am looking to get my resume “professionally reviewed” by an ex-banker as I will be applying to banks in the near future. Can you recommend any places/small, few-people firms that might be best to go to? It’s hard to tell via the internet who is really reputable.

    1. Yes – we recommend the services of Management Consulted, which you can sign up for right here:

      http://managementconsulted.com/finance-and-consulting-resumes/

      Although the site is consulting-focused, there are several bankers and former financiers helping out with resumes and they have an excellent reputation for quality resumes and cover letters.

  59. When a company posts a job on their website and you apply for that job, how long do recruiters wait before reviewing each resume and coordinating with the manager of the job?

  60. Brian,
    I hope you can answer my question;
    Do banks generally start reviewing applications as they come in before the resume drop period ends (4 January) ? I am able to update my resume or cancel my request at university’s career centre website, but it’s no use doing that if banks have already downloaded my original resume that I’ve submitted when the resume submission period opened up in the early autumn. But since they spend only 30 seconds reviewing each one, I reckon they do it in one burst.
    Thanks and I wish you wherever you may be a very happy new year!

    1. Usually they review them just before sending out interview notifications. But not sure when they actually download it, if you have something major you could try to add it.

  61. […] you’re interested in finance and investment banking, the best article on this topic can be found here. M&I does a great job explaining how the sausage is […]

  62. Do languages help?

    Do you recommend me putting:

    “Additional languages: Spanish, German, Pirate”

    (the last one as a way to stand out?)

    Ok i was kidding about ‘Pirate.’

    1. Yes, languages always help. Make sure you actually know them, though, or you may be surprised by an interviewer who catches you off-guard…

  63. I am a rising senior and am currently interning at a Big Four accounting firm. Though accounting is fine, I am more interested in finance. Will working at a Big Four give me any advantage (or a better chance, which may be a better way to put it)? I do not attend a target school like an Ivy or MIT, but I do attend a smaller, liberal arts college with a very strong accounting department as well as numerous alumni spread out across finance, from the bulge firms to the smaller players. I know that the easiest way in the door is an internship, but I was smart (stupid) enough to accept the offer from the Big 4 firm because… well… they offered it to me very early – plus, they were more than generous with the wage.

    Essentially – will working at an accounting firm give me a leg up, or will they toss me into the “non-banking experience” category?

    By the way, I just discovered your site and it’s pretty fixating – I have a bunch of shit to do today but I just can’t quit reading.

    1. Glad you like the site. Working at Big 4 gives you an advantage over someone with no business/finance experience (e.g. someone who just worked at non-profits or did technical work) but it doesn’t put you on par with those who have had previous banking/PE experience. Definitely still worth applying as accounting is actually more relevant to banking than “finance” is – most of what we do is accounting-related.

    2. “rising senior” sounds so cliched and dated. You should not use the phrase or risk having your resume pushed aside.

      1. I don’t think he was referring to using it on his resume…

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