The Complete Private Equity Resume Guide (With Free Downloadable MS Word Templates & Examples)
We’re going to continue our series on investment banking resume templates and go through how you should write about investment banking experience in this article.
You can actually use a similar template for anything in finance, whether you worked on the sell-side or buy-side.
But you can’t use it for everything.
Who Should Use This (or a Similar) Template:
- Students who have had banking / finance internships (you will need to make some modifications, e.g. put Education at the top instead).
- Current Analysts and Associates.
- Anyone in other front-office finance roles who is now looking for something else within finance.
Who Should Not Use This Template:
- Anyone applying to business school – for that you want to present a more “balanced” picture of what you’ve done.
- Older, more experienced people – if you have worked on 20+ deals you will need a separate page for listing everything. This usually only happens at the VP-level and above.
- Anyone working outside finance or anyone interested in moving to something outside finance – the Peace Corps doesn’t care if you know what EBITDA means.
The Template, The Video, and the Tutorial
As before, here’s the template in Word and PDF format:
And here’s the overview video:
(For more free training and financial modeling videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel.)
And here’s the same tutorial in text format:
What’s Different In This Version
Actually, a lot of this is the same as in our university student template: the area at the top with your name and contact information, the overall format of the resume, and format of each work experience entry (name and position left-aligned, location and dates right-aligned, summary sentence, etc.).
- The Order – Work Experience on top, Education below that and Skills/Activities/Interests below that. Note: If you were an intern and are still in school you should keep Education on top.
- The Focus – We are focusing much more heavily on your investment banking experience and have cut back on the rest.
- For buy-side recruiting, or even moving to another bank, this is all they care about 90% of the time.
- If you’ve had a banking internship, your full-time interview questions will be either technical or focused on your internship – or both.
Yes, you can include previous internships and jobs as well but you should make your banking experience take up most of your resume.
If you’re an intern returning to school, it’s fine to leave in previous internships but I would not devote as much space to them.
About the Banking Experience
You should give 1 or 2 summary sentences, and then go straight into your deal experience (or if you worked on the buy-side, “Investment Experience”).
The summary sentence should:
- Give the number and types of deals you’ve worked on.
- Say that you completed valuations, models, due diligence, research, and client presentations (or anything else – add and subtract from here as needed)
Research and qualitative items are OK to include but try to focus on clients / deals / technical work because those are what interviewers care about.
If you didn’t work on deals (if you were an intern) or didn’t do much substantial work, there are ways around it – which we’ll get into below.
Picking Deals / Clients to Write About
Once you have your summary sentence, you need to decide WHICH deals / clients / investments to write about.
If you were an intern, this is easy: take what you can get. Unless you were a miracle summer analyst and somehow worked on 10 transactions, you can usually point to a few major projects.
For those working in banking full-time, it’s more difficult to decide what to write about.
- Aim for between 2 and 4 deals total – just 1 looks strange, and more than 4 is excessive to get your points across. In THIS template there are more than 4 deals, but that’s because I wanted to give you examples of how to write about different deal types.
- Try to have a mix of “high-profile” or larger deals that catch recruiters’ attention (e.g. Microsoft / Yahoo) and deals where you contributed something more substantial (this one is more relevant for full-time bankers).
- M&A / Restructuring deals are better to write about than IPOs or other Equity-related deals. Debt Financings can be ok depending on what you did. Anything “unusual” like divestitures, distressed sales, etc. is also good to write about and talk about in interviews.
It’s not the end of the world if you’ve mostly worked on IPOs. Despite rumors to the contrary, you can get into PE without having M&A or Leveraged Finance experience.
Whether or not a deal was officially announced doesn’t matter: just replace company names with industry descriptions (“Biopharmaceutical Company”) for unannounced transactions.
What to Do If You Don’t Have “Real” Deals
If you don’t have many “official” deals, you should turn whatever you did during the summer into “pending” or “potential” deals.
The more that happened, the better, but as long as you did something you can write about it as if it were a potential transaction.
Were you doing research on companies for a client or prospective client? Sounds like a “Potential” Buy-Side M&A deal to me.
Did the CEO approach you and ask your team to pitch for the business? Did you do a valuation and research potential buyers? That’s a “Potential” Sell-Side M&A deal, even if you didn’t do much more than the pitch book (if you’re paranoid, you can label this type of experience a “Pitch” instead).
You don’t need to list “deals” if it’s too much of a stretch – in that case, just go with a summary sentence and a few more descriptive bullets on what you did.
Writing About Deals
Within each entry, list the dollar/Euro/other currency amount – estimating if you don’t know for sure – and list the company that you were representing first.
“Media Company’s Acquisition of Software Company” would imply that you represented the Media Company on the buy-side.
Use “Potential” or “Pending” for deals that haven’t been announced or closed yet, and only give the names if it’s publicly known.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This advice assumes that you actually have some closed deals. If you have worked on several deals but nothing has closed yet, it’s best not to draw attention to that fact – so you should leave out this “Pending” or “Potential” language and act as if everything is “ongoing” (and be ready to outline the next steps in the process).
Aim for 1-2 bullets for each deal – if you can summarize it with 1 bullet, do that, but if you need more than that you could split up what you did into “qualitative” and “quantitative” parts and use a 2-bullet structure.
I’ve mentioned the “Specifics; Results” structure before and the same applies here – but you need to be careful about what you write:
- Focus on modeling or valuation work if possible in your “specifics” segment – due diligence or other qualitative work may be ok as long as you can make it sound good in an interview. Try to link anything qualitative to how it was used in the transaction.
In the template here, the banker is using the buyer list he created for the Restructuring deal as the “specifics” and then giving the “results” by writing that it was used in Chapter 11 proceedings to show that the price was fair.
(“Fair” may sound ridiculous to you if you haven’t worked in finance before, and it would take me about a page to explain the term here – but for now just keep in mind that the work he did was used in court proceedings, which makes it good to write about.)
- The level of detail for each deal depends on how much space you have and the rest of your resume. If this is your first and only full-time work experience, be as detailed as you can, but if you have lots of other solid entries then you don’t need to write a Wikipedia page about each entry.
In this template, the banker has gone into detail on some deals and hasn’t written much about others – which is fine.
- Be very careful about your “results” for each deal. If you write something like, “Negotiated 10% lower purchase price,” you’re going to get called on it in interviews because Analysts and Associate don’t “negotiate” anything (except for food prices at closing dinners, maybe…).
If your work impacted the deal, that’s fine – but be careful with your wording and make sure that you frame the results as you having “supported” the senior bankers.
Also, don’t feel pressured to include false “results” – if all you did was create a presentation, just write that rather than pretending you made $10 million for your firm.
What to Do If…
Here are answers to some other common questions:
You’ve Had Multiple Investment Banking Internships
You can still include the other internships, but cut back on how much you include, and keep the focus on your current or most recent one.
Still include a summary sentence but write about “Selected Investment Experience” instead and list the investments / potential investments you worked on.
Focus on modeling, due diligence, and how your work impacted the deal process (if that’s what happened).
See the video for more detail and an example of how to do this.
You Can’t Fit Everything On One Page and You Don’t Live in Australia
Decrease the font size, cut out experience, or do whatever it takes to get it on 1 page. 2 pages is still not appropriate in most regions, unless you have dozens of deals and need separate page(s) for them.
You Didn’t Have Any “Real” Deals
The Rest of the Resume
Again, it’s fine to leave in other Work Experience but you shouldn’t focus on it quite as much – which is why this section has been reduced here.
Education should be shorter if you’re working full-time – no one cares that you were on the Dean’s List. GPA and standardized test scores are fine to keep in. If you’re still a student, you can keep this section more detailed.
Skills, Activities & Interests should also be shorter (it’s named differently here as well) because people care even less what activities you were in once you’ve been working for awhile.
Again, students can keep this section more detailed but don’t go overboard.
So that’s a quick overview of what’s in this template and how to use it – please do not just copy this blindly unless you want to get a lot of questions you can’t answer in interviews.
Use the basic format and style and adapt it to what you actually did.
Note: Also, I assume no liability in case this template does not, in fact, get you into KKR.
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