Investment Banking Resumes – Top 10 Tips

Would you want bankers like your resume over others? What makes them like yours?

These are important questions. If you know the answers, you’re one step closer to interviews and job offers even in today’s market.

There are students who are able to craft hypnotic resumes to get results. Is that you? Are there secrets in writing an investment banking resume?

In fact there are no secrets if you find the right people to help. Get someone from inside investment banking to tell you how they read resumes and how they choose candidate to interview, then you’re on the fast track to write a resume that bankers love.

Write Investment Banking Resumes that impress in the first 30 seconds

You may know that bankers spend as little as 30 seconds to read a resume. If you’re unable to impress them in 30 seconds, then your resume will go to the ‘no’ pile.

Before going specific, let’s go through the top 10 basic rules to make your investment banking resume stands out.

  1. Write for junior bankers.  To impress a tired, stressed out junior banker who is only going to take no more than 30 seconds to read a resume, the best strategy is to keep it short and easy to read – 1 page resume with a clear layout – this is the single way that makes it easy for the poor investment banking analyst to run through their checklist (school, GPA, internship experience, interests).
  2. Reviewed by insidersBefore submitting your resume, email it to a couple of your friends in banking – and perhaps one or two college friends who did an internship last year – and await their insiders’ opinion.  If you don’t have such resources from your own network, you may spend a little some money to get an investment banking resume review.
  3. Flawless Bankers are trained to pick mistakes. Same applies when they read resumes. One single punctuation, grammar or spelling mistake will get your resume end up in the bin.  So as nonsensical sentences, incorrect word usage …etc.
  4. Investment banking resume is all about 3 things. School brand, GPA score, work experienceInterest and hobby could be the 4th, if space allowed. Allocate the majority of your resume to pushing these 3 or 4 points.  That means eliminating the irrelevant or the less important, e.g. jobs worked outside of the corporate world.
  5. Write work section focusing on achievements racked up during client work / live deals.  Talk about how you built tables, designed decks and other deal related work.  This after all, is what bankers want to hear about.
  6. Be conservative. Yes, I mean it. Never apply creativity with your investment banking resume.  No borders, no artistic typefaces, no excessive divider bars, no multiple fonts, no weird font size, no colors.  Have a good understanding in banking conservativeness in presentation.
  7. List your SAT scores Bankers love objective measures of intelligence, and this hits their sweet spot.  But do not go as far as to list your GMAT scores on your investment banking resume, unless you were going for associate positions.
  8. No lies or exaggerations If you write wreck diving in the hobby section, be prepared to speak to someone with that same hobby at the end of the interview. Likewise, if you write fluent in a certain language, be prepared to speak with someone in that language.
  9. Use powerful words Analyzed, managed, developed, projected, evaluated, researched etc.  Words that make you sound like an investment banking analyst.
  10. Banker friendly terms  Dollars, percentages, amounts, folds, dates, and other metrics would appear.  Jargons allowed. Jargons are generally not recommended in business writing, but resumes and recruitment ads are exceptions. This is a way to tell bankers that you know the business and the terms… AUM / M&A / ECM / DCM / TMT / FIG / ABS / OTC 

Bonus Tip – Spend a couple bucks to hire an investment banker to write your resume or at least get a resume review service Remember resumes for investment banking jobs are not for a normal professional resume writer to write. You need people who know the business and know how bankers choose candidates.  Your ROI will be great once you land an investment banking job of $100,000. Inside Investment Banking is a website of such kind, providing insiders’ assistance to guide you through resume writing to interviewing.

Who Reads Your Investment Banking Resume

Want to write an investment banking resume? Before doing do, there are two questions you want to ask. (1) Who reads your resume? (2) How your resume is being read?

Knowing answers to the ‘who’, ‘how’ and ‘when’ questions will greatly help you write an effective investment banking resume.

How Bankers Read Your Resume

There are plenty of resume tips out there – and even investment banking resume templates, but are they really what you need? Well, banking resume is a unique type of resume that not a normal professional resume writer will be able to help.  You would need someone from inside investment banking to help.

  1. Who actually takes time out of their busy day to read what your resume?
  2. When will they read your resume?
  3. How much time do they spend on reading your resume?
  4. What bankers look for when reading resumes?

Who Reads Your Resume?

At the initial screening stage, analysts will read your resume, if you’re applying for an analyst position.

If you’re from a “target school” that many banks recruit at – then analyst alumni from your school will review your resume.

Otherwise HR might just hand it off randomly to whoever ‘has the bandwidth’.

Likewise, for associate positions, associates will review your resume if you’re applying for an associate position. Once again, alumni from your school will do it if they’re available.

They’ll then decide who will be interviewed.

When Do Bankers Read Your Resume?

Last-minute. Bankers rush around hours, they will only select interviewees minutes before deadline.

How Long Do They Spend Reading Your Resume?

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.

What Bankers Look For In Resumes?

Mistakes – In the first place, they won’t look for qualified candidates. Instead, they look for mistakes, even the tiniest ones, to disqualify candidates.  If this sounds something new, you may need to adjust your mindset to accept this fact.  That way they can quickly set 3 quarters of the resumes to the ‘no’ file.  Only if your resume survives through this stage, your other content will be read with a little more attention.

Names, GPAs – they look for university namesemployer names, and GPA. Be sure you make all these stand out by making them bold. I have come across some hiring managers who are not interested in candidates with GPA lower than 3.5. Although it could be a matter of individual preference, but if you don’t list yours, you will be assumed as doing very bad. So unless you are really bad, please include it on your resume. On the contrary, you don’t have to include your GPA if you have already a few years of experience, unless your score is exceptionally high.

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.

Reading resumes is a boring job. At the end of the day, they don’t want to bore themselves further and want to interview ‘interesting’ people.  If space permits, yes, do list your interests/hobbies and keep it short. Avoid cooking or bird viewing. Include football team member or club financial secretary or any other activities that will grant you credit on leadership, team building and achievements.

How Many Time You Should Revise Your Resume ?

Knowing about the ‘who’, ‘how’, ‘what’ and ‘when’ elements of reading an investment banking resume, will you still care to edit your resume hundreds of times? It’s just not worth it because bankers spend so little time reading it.

Use an appropriate template, make 2 or 3 rounds of edits to create a finished draft. Get a second pair of eyes to proof read. That’s it.

Your time is much better spent networking.  Network with bankers, avoid HRs.

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.

Still want additional help? Contact someone from Inside Investment Banking to assist.

Degrees for Investment Banking

Very often people ask me this question: What degrees for investment banking are needed? There is no investment banking major at any college. So let’s look at some real figures to give you some references.

CFA: 80 per cent of my candidates have this professional qualification.

MSc / MBA: 80 per cent of my candidates have one of these qualifications.

At entry level, investment banks may not set these as pre-requisites. But you would need them if you want to further develop your career in investment banking.

To start an investment banking career, personality fit rates higher than technical skills. Skills can be trained, personality is not likely. However at the end of the day, you are advising others on how to get the most from their finances, and how to make their money work for them, so understanding the basics of finance is crucial to being able to adequately advise your clients and, thus, be successful at your job.

Although there isn’t any particular degrees for investment banking, banks generally give preferences to those studying finance related subjects.

More numbers for your reference. Benchmarking website analyzed 706 investment banking directors by salary suggested that finance and business students are hired in far greater numbers than anyone studying softer subjects. 34% of the sample it analyzed majored in accounting, business or finance, 24% studied economics. After that, percentage figures get a little negligible.

11% of IB directors have maths and statistics degrees and 10% are engineering graduates. The fifth and sixth most common degrees are chemistry and computer science, but they account for just 4% and 3% of the total respectively.

What if I don’t have any of the above degrees? And what if I don’t come from an Oxbridge University? And what if…

Well, investment banking is a people business, skills can be trained, and personality cannot. If you have the right personality fit, chances are still there. In fact, investment bankers receive a great deal of their training through their employers.

There are even real cases like these.

Peter Redhead, Global Head of Research at Macquarie Group (former head of Asia Equities at JP Morgan), studied Geography at Durham.

Peter Sullivan, the former CEO of Standard Chartered Bank, studied Physical Education at New South Wales University.

The present Japan country head of a US Hedge Fund, studied law at university and has only one bachelor’s degree.

A basic university degree is your key to investment banking. Additional factors determining your success will include opportunities, your skills on networking, your capabilities on multi-tasking and problem solving. However to increase your competitiveness, CFA is highly desired.

How can I learn more about becoming an investment banker?
You can learn more about the requirements and training process to become an investment banker by visiting the websites of large investment banks like Goldman-Sachs and J.P. Morgan. These companies detail the various programs they offer for undergraduate students, graduate students, recent graduates, and experienced professionals.

If you are currently in college, you may be able to find someone in your school’s alumni network who can talk to you about becoming an investment banker. Learning more through this process can also be a good way to build your professional network.

Want additional guide about networking with bankers? Inside Investment Banking has a training course which will walk you through step by step networking strategies.

Largest Investment Banks

If you type ‘largest investment banks’ in Google, you’ll come up with these names. Indeed, if you want to start an investment banking career, these are the banks you should look at. All of them have programs for students and graduates. I’ve captured their career sites. For your quick and easy reference, feel free to bookmark this page.

  1. Goldman Sachs
  2. Morgan Stanley
  3. JP Morgan Chase
  4. Bank of America Merrill Lynch
  5. Deutsche Bank
  6. Citigroup

More Banks

Apart from the largest investment banks, there are large investment banks that offer programs for students and graduates.

  1. HSBC
  2. Schroders
  3. UBS

About Goldman Sachs

People who want to work for investment banks, want to work for Goldman. Why?  Let see what people say.

Pros – Hard working smart people to work with.

Cons – Work life balance may be compromised.

Having Goldman Sachs on your resume is a great asset. Most people think highly about this company because it has been a part of many high profile M&A and IPO deals and is known for its extensive recruiting practices and hardworking culture. So having this brand on your resume will convey many positive qualities to recruiters. If you get an offer here, definitely take it….source: Glassdoor

Reviews could be personal. However across the entire internet, you’ll find reviews like these about Goldman Sachs. They are as true as the sun rising from the east. If you are serious about building an investment banking career, start by looking for an intern opportunity at Goldman.

About this Website

If you are not success in setting your feet into Goldman, try other large investment banks. Surely the number of students who want to join Goldman is more that the number of vacancies they have. This website is created to help students and graduates to write resumes that bankers love and to start a banking career in one of the largest investment banks.

How To Get Into Investment Banking

What Does An Investment Banker do?

Before learning how to get into investment banking, let see what an investment banker does.

When corporations and municipalities want to raise capital to fund their operation, they go to an investment bank for assistance. An investment banker works with these entities to underwrite, or find buyers for, securities like bonds or stock to raise the capital the organization needs.

In addition to underwriting securities, investment bankers can usher corporations through complex processes like initial public offerings or mergers and acquisitions. To do this successfully, they must be well-versed in the behavior of financial markets and in the legal requirements that investment banks and their clients must meet for each process.

There is no investment banking major, and advice on how to become one is scarce. But by looking at the skills necessary to successfully practice as an investment banker, you can narrow down the degrees that will best serve you in your future career goals.

Networking with Investment Bankers 

Although this website is named investment banking resumes, but resume writing is only Step One of how to get into investment banking.  There is a Step Zero, which is Networking.

Investment banking is a people business. If you do not enjoy dealing with people, or if you do not enjoy networking, then it may not worth your time finding out how to get into investment banking.  In short, there may be some other career options that will suit you better.

Why Networking?

Knowing the process of how investment banks recruit, you’ll know how and why ‘networking’ comes before writing a resume.

Large investment banks recruit prospective analysts and associates from top business schools, and often fill these positions with interns who have worked with them as summer analysts or associates. Therefore, you must concentrate heavily on networking while still in school.

Networking through Alumni Network

People tend to give more attention to those younger ones who came from their same school. Hence, your school’s alumni is always the best to start with.  If you are currently in college, you may be able to find someone in your school’s alumni network who can talk to you about becoming an investment banker. Learning more through this process can also be a good way to build your professional network.

As your network grows, you will increase your chances of meeting someone who can offer you an opportunity to interview for a position. If you do not attend a highly-rated business school, you will need to work hard to build a network on your own by reaching out to family members, friends, acquaintances, professional associations.

How to Get into Investment Banking by Utilizing IB Career Sites

You can learn more about the requirements and training process to become an investment banker by visiting the websites of large investment banks like Goldman-Sachs and J.P. Morgan. These companies detail the various programs they offer for undergraduate students, graduate students, recent graduates, and experienced professionals.

Pay attention to their recruiting calendars and set a goal to acquire an intern role. Some banks may pay interns only some basic allowances, but not real salaries.  But this is a critical milestone for anyone who wants to develop an investment banking career.  If you were offered an opportunity, do take it, without any hesitation.

List of Largest Investment Banks.

Investment Banking Resume

So you want to write a compelling Investment Banking Resume? This website provides a short cut to help you write your IB resume in the shortest time. I don’t usually encourage quick fix but this website is different. It is backed up by the ibankingresumes blog which I started in March 2007. This website is in fact the essence of my blog. There are tons of resume writing tips, templates, and samples out there. However investment banking resume is a unique type of resume that not a regular professional resume writer is able to help. This was the reason why I set up a blog tailored for young bankers and undergraduates who aim to build an investment banking career.

As a professional IB headhunter, I am not going to tell you general guidelines of resume writing, but things that bankers are actually looking for in the real world of investment banking.

Why Investment Banking?

Monetary rewards. Across the globe, most fresh graduate top earners work for investment banks. How much a young investment banker can make? Well, one of my hedge fund manager candidates made US$4 million at the age of 29.

Working with the smartest people in the world. If you manage to break into a bulge bracket, you will know how this feeling is like.

How senior can a young investment banker be? Well, Anthony Clake became the partner of Marshall Wace, a UK hedge fund, at the age of 25. While you admire Wall Street CEOs receiving fat pay checks, there are young bankers making huge income silently and of course taking less responsibilities comparing to a CEO. Do you want to be a successful young investment banker? If so, go through this website and craft your compelling investment banking resume as quickly as you can.