HOME How to Bankify Your Resume

How to Bankify Your Resume

In The Banker Blueprint, I gave you a few resume templates that you can use for your own resume.

But you might run into a small problem: sometimes you don’t have work experience that sounds banker-esque.

Maybe you’ve been day trading; maybe you’ve spent all your time at the lab; or maybe all you did in your last internship was play Facebook games.

When this happens, you need to spin your experience and bankify your resume so that it sounds relevant – so let’s look at a few examples of how to do this.

The Templates

First, just in case you lost the links here are the investment banking resume templates you should be using:

Now let’s get started with the spinning.

Example #1: How to Spin Your Own Trading Experience

You’re writing your investment banking resume but you have no real business or finance experience to speak of.

Rather than admitting this on your resume though, you need to spin what you have into sounding relevant – and there’s a complete example and tutorial for that one right here.

One common case where this comes up: you’ve done a lot of trading on your own, and you want to write about that as if it’s “work experience.”

Here’s what you don’t want to write:

Day Trader

  • Traded own portfolio and managed money for family and relatives over 2 years; assisted with stock selection and asset allocation

First off, don’t write “Day Trader” as a job title or “company name” on your resume – it sounds like an infomercial.

Next, don’t say you “managed money for family and relatives” – that makes it sound like a hobby rather than work.

Finally, you either need to give more details about your performance, or details about how you picked stocks so you can make it look relevant.

Here’s how we might bankify this entry:

Independent Investing

  • Managed portfolio and selected US and foreign stocks to invest in; earned 11% average annual return over 2 years
    • Oil Stock
      • Analyzed market fundamentals and invested 5% of portfolio in company due to planned expansion into deep ocean fields and hedging strength relative to competitors
    • Biotech Stock
      • Compared company to competitors in similar niche market and found that pipeline was weaker; shorted stock and earned 10% return over 6 months

This entry is much better now – there’s more detail, it sounds more professional, and it almost sounds like hedge fund experience rather than day trading.

Example #2: How to Spin Your Geeky Science Background

If you’ve done scientific or mathematical research, you can also spin this into sounding relevant to finance – if you do it the right way.

Here’s how not to do it:

Clean-Tech Research Group
Research Assistant

  • Worked directly with professor to perform data collection and analysis of clean-tech industries, including ethanol, solar cell, module and wafer manufacturers

This shows me that you learned a lot about solar cells and ethanol, but how is this related to investment banking?

You need to make it sound like you researched markets rather than technologies.

You should also focus more on the broader applications of your work rather than the technical details.

Here’s the makeover:

Clean-Tech Group
Market Analyst

  • Analyzed ethanol and solar companies’ performances and reported on key financial and market characteristics
  • Collected financial performance data on solar cell manufacturing companies and concluded that post-IPO companies missed earnings expectations in 50% of cases due to overly aggressive forecasts
  • Tracked individual ethanol producers based on management teams, strength of intellectual property, and rounds of venture capital funding

This entry now looks like an investment banker’s experience rather than a science geek’s.

You’re throwing around finance-related buzzwords like IPO and venture capital, and it sounds more like business.

Even if you only spent 1% of your time on these tasks, that’s OK – as long as you actually did them, it’s not lying. It’s just re-adjusting the focus.

Sometimes changing your title like this is dangerous (see below), but otherwise the entry above is fine.

Example #3: How to Spin Grunt Work Into Sounding Like a Deal

If you’ve done an investment banking internship, you might have bullets that sound something like this:

Goldman Stanley
Investment Banking Analyst

  • Analyzed companies, performed financial modeling and valuations, and assisted senior bankers with research on potential acquisitions and potential buyers
  • Prepared briefing books, pitch books, and market updates for senior bankers and clients

There’s nothing wrong with that, but it could be a lot better.

Rather than leaving these “potential acquisitions” and “potential buyers” as-is on your resume, you should turn them into “potential” deals:

Goldman Stanley
Investment Banking Analyst

  • Analyzed companies, performed financial modeling and valuations, and assisted with marketing and client work; worked on potential sell-side and buy-side M&A deals
    • Technology Company’s Potential Acquisition of Internet Company
      • Researched list of potential targets for technology company and narrowed down list from 100 to 10 based on geography, market cap, and product line
    • Mining Company’s Potential Sale
      • Assessed best buyers for mining company and created list of 30 based on acquisition proclivity, financial wherewithal, and product overlap

This is significantly better, and we haven’t lied: in banking everything is a potential deal.

Clients fall through all the time, plans change, and there’s no way to tell what really happened – your boss can’t even disclose that information due to confidentiality.

And When You Don’t Know What Else to Do…

Be a consultant.

Almost any type of IT, sales, or research experience could be labeled “consulting” because it’s such a vague title.

All you have to do is link what you did back to business or finance.

You do have to be careful of your title, because sometimes there’s no wiggle room – so always check first before you change an “official” title to something completely different.

Words of Warning

Whenever I write something about spinning your experience, I always get a lot of “But you’re telling us to lie!!!!” comments.

But that’s not what I’m saying at all – I’m telling you to present your experience differently, not lie.

If you did not do something then you should not list it on your resume – end of story.

Making something sound like it was more important or took more time than it actually did is fine, but fabricating experience is not fine.

In example #2 above I changed the person’s job title – sometimes you can get away with that, and sometimes you can’t.

I strongly advise you to check with your team before changing your title like this – it’s a bad idea if you had an “official title.”

Even if you didn’t have an “official title,” you still want to run it by your former boss to make sure he’ll back you up.

Spinning Your Way Into Interviews

So now you know how to plan your recruiting strategy, tell your story, ninja your way into the industry, and write a resume that will get you interviews.

Up next, I’m going to teach you how to ace your interviews, point out  some common mistakes, and show you how to land investment banking offers.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you again in a few days.

Talk soon,
Brian

Mergers & Inquisitions
Breaking Into Wall Street

P.S. Get here from an email forward, a friend’s link, or a random Google search?

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