How to break into the Banking Industry with a killer Resume?

It is a piece of paper that summarizes your whole life. It is the equivalent of ‘you’ as a person. It is your name card and your face. Yes, we are talking about your résumé.

Well, the above line sounds too extreme. Your résumé cannot possibly summarize your life. But it does speak a lot about who you are in the eyes of your recruiters. Moreover, banking resume is slightly different from resume for other industries, due to the fast pace of the working environment and high volume of application. If you want to put your best foot forward in your banking application, you need to know how to write a good resume just for banks.

Get the Basic Info Right

How to break into the Banking Industry with a killer Resume?

Your résumé should begin with your name and contact information (well, needless to say). Hope by now you have known that your email address should be professional without strange or impolite words or phrases. If you are not sure, just put your school email.

For the phone number, put your mobile number, not your home number. You don’t want your phone interviewer to give you a call and end up talking to your grandma first. Use this format +65 1111 2222(M). Notice there is a space after the forth digit, because people tend to remember phone number in block of four. Are you overdoing it? Not at all considering the fierce competition you are facing.

What NOT to include?

How about home address? That is not necessary. First, in the application portal, there will be a space to fill in your home address. Second, the firm will not actually mail you anything until you get an offer. So maximize your use of space by not including the rather long address that is of little interest to résumé readers.

Then how about tag lines? Something like ‘a motivated, creative, aspiring finance professional’, or ‘career objectives: X,Y,Z.’ They are really not necessary either. If you read some other articles by Digital Senior, you will realize that we keep emphasizing ‘show, don’t tell’. You will only show you are motivated by listing down your achievements on the résumé, not by stating the conclusion before you even begin to present your evidence.

Digital Senior has been spending quite some time talking about things that need not be included. To be honest, if you include the things above, they won’t necessary hurt your chance. But they just distract résumé readers’ attention away from things that are really important. Given the high volume of application to banks, you definitely want to give things that are critical to your chance and catch the readers’ attention within the limited time span.

GPA: TO include or NOT to include

So let’s talk about things that are really important (besides your name and your contact info). First, it’s your education. Other than your university and major, you are strongly advised to put down your GPA. Even your GPA isn’t that great, still write it down nevertheless. You don’t want the HR to think your grades are really ‘bad’ when they are just not that fantastic.

There are ways to mitigate a less-the-great GPA. In addition to listing down your overall GPA, you can also list down your major GPA. If you major in finance and the finance related courses give you better grades, do a calculation on your own and include ‘Major GPA’ as well. But at the end of the day, you should realize there is a lower limit to GPA requirement. Many international banks require a GPA of second upper. Local banks also have their own requirements, though some are lower in certain cases. If your grades don’t meet the mark, your chance will get lower, though they may still get a chance by networking.

Other Education Experiences

Also in the education part, list down any scholarship that you have received. If you have taken CFA or any other qualification exam, list them down as well. If you have gone for exchange, include that experience, because that shows the diversity of cultural backgrounds that you have been familiar with, something that is valuable for people working in bank.

Work Experiences

After the education part, we go on to your work experiences and activities. Digital Senior would recommend you to put your work experiences before your campus activities, because banks pay a lot more attention to candidates with relevant work experiences. Hence as a side note, by the time you apply for a banking internship, it is strongly recommended that you get some kind of professional experiences, such as in the finance department of a company, in a small boutique asset management firm or any place where the skills you learn are transferable to banks.

work experience

When you are writing down your experiences, focus on your contributions. Use numbers because bankers like numbers.  Compare ‘Streamline the operations process and improve the sales revenue’ with ‘streamlining the operations process, resulting in cost saving of 20%, and improve the sales revenue by 10% in the last one month’, which one sounds more convincing? There are a lot of things that can be quantified. Sales figure, number of people you led in a team, number of participants in an event you organized, the number of reports you generated. Be specific and number driven.

Campus Activities: Quality over Quantity

If you are a driven student, you tend to participate in many activities on campus. They are all good stuff, but avoid putting all of them in your résumé. Your résumé readers appreciate campus activities less than work experiences, because first they may not know what is ‘chocolate eating club’ all about and second even if they know (such as Student union), they are still not sure the quality of experiences. Student activities tend to receive less focus from the banking recruiters, hence Digital Senior would advise you to put two or three activities maximum behind work experiences. You can leave the rest of the experiences to your interviews where you share about all the nice things you have done.

Give a Human side to the resume

And there is one last section that many students tend to ignore. It is the “personal interest” section. Many resumes tend to look alike: good school, good grades, varied activities and relevant work experiences. Sometime what differentiates you is really the final personal touch. Try to stand out here but don’t try too hard. Mentioning ‘running’ or ‘reading’ is fine, but that doesn’t make you look interesting. But mentioning ‘running in a jungle’ or ‘reading Buddhism books’ makes you stand out more. But don’t make up fake interest, because your interviewer may just ask you about it when you meet. Also, keep it to one line only.

human side

As Digital Senior said in the overview, keep your résumé to one page. Even the executive director of a bank can keep his résumé to one page, why can’t a twenty years old? Change your font size and reduce the margin (but don’t overdo it). And if you only focus on things the recruiters are interested in, one page is definitely enough for you. For a good template of banking resume, please click here. (Merger and Inquisition is an excellent source for students interested in a financial career. It can be read together with Digital Senior that provides insight with a Singapore focus)

Lastly, always double check your résumé for mistakes. You can read it one day later, or have a trusted person to proofread it. Better still, print out your résumé to see how it really looks like on paper. Make sure it gives a good first impression that is neat and professional.

It is worth your time to create a good résumé. Probably your recruiters may spend less than 30 seconds on it! But you need to spend much more time to create the first ever impression that sticks after the 30 seconds of reading.

Author: This author is an economics student in NTU. Passionate about finance, he interned in a sales team at Royal Bank of Scotland, as well as in the asset management department of Deutsche Bank. He understands the breaking into the finance industry is not easy, but it’s always possible with hard work and advice from people who went through the same path. He benefitted tremendously from the help from his seniors. Now he’s glad to give back, by getting behind the Digital Senior team and providing tips to juniors on resume, networking, interviews and more!

Do you have questions or comments about interning in a bank ? Send an email to info@digitalsenior.sg or post in the comments box below!

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