Investment Banking Insights: Creating an Effective Investment Banking Resume

Now that we have outlined some important considerations for Summer 2022 Investment Banking Internship recruiting, this post will focus on tailoring your resume for investment banking internship applications.

A resume that is effective for investment banking may be different than the resume you have used to apply for jobs or internships in other industries and different functional roles.  Consider the following as you create a resume for investment banking internship applications:

Design and Format

You may have seen different resume designs and formats that attract your attention.  Elaborate templates, innovative designs, creative formats may all seem appealing.  But as you prepare your resume for investment banking, avoid these temptations.  Investment banking is a conservative industry and the most effective resumes for internships tend to utilize a simple, professional format.  Here are some basic considerations to begin with:
– Avoid exotic font styles and colors – consider a modern, professional font style.
– As a general guideline, use 10 pt to 12 pt font size (depending on font style).  Make your resume as easy to read as possible – avoid text that is too small or too large
– One-inch margins are ideal with adequate spacing between entries.
– Do not exceed 1 page in length even though this may create a dilemma on what information to keep on your resume and what to exclude. Think of your resume as an overview or snapshot of your most relevant experiences – it’s ok to omit some experiences from the past!

Insider Tip:  There are different options for creating a basic, professionally designed investment banking resume – consider the Career Services Resume Guide as one approach: https://careerservices.upenn.edu/resources/career-services-resume-guide/view/

Content

Be strategic in your approach creating resume content for investment banking internships. While your resume will provide insight into your experiences (ideally organized in reverse chronological order by end date), it is important to highlight the following information (if possible): demonstrated interest in finance, examples of accomplishment/impact, leadership skills.

Demonstrated Interest in Finance.  Investment banking internships may be alluring for different reasons.  Employers know this and want to be sure they are hiring talented candidates who have a legitimate interest in finance.  So it is important to think about your collective experiences thus far and try to include any experience(s) you have related to finance on your resume.

Consider listing any relevant coursework (completed or in progress) in your Education section – accounting and finance courses such as Accounting and Financial Reporting and Valuation are two examples.

While these courses can be helpful, they are not required to receive investment banking internship offers!  You can demonstrate your potential and abilities through quantitative and other courses such as macroeconomics.

Relevant systems, software, trainings or other certifications can be included in a Skills section: Capital IQ and FactSet are two relevant examples to consider.  Although Microsoft Excel will be frequently used in these internships, some individuals may assume you already know how to use Excel at this point.

If you are involved with finance student organizations or you have assumed a finance-related role in an organization, those experiences can be helpful to include on your resume as well.

Insider Tip: If you have been selected to participate in financial services employer events such as leadership conferences, insight days or competitions, you can add those entries to your resume!

Insider Tip: For sophomores who have accepted a summer internship for Summer 2021, you can list that position on your resume if you begin recruiting for Summer 2022 positions prior to the end of the Spring semester.  Simply include the employer name, position title, upcoming dates for the internship and company location in your work experience section.  Add the word “Incoming” before the position title to reinforce you have not started the internship yet.

Examples of Accomplishment and Impact.  Your previous work experiences and activities can be helpful to make a positive impression.  Providing brief context on your tasks and projects is a good starting point – but focus on including your most significant examples of accomplishment and impact in your bullet point descriptions for work experience and activities.
When you reflect on your experiences, ask yourself – how did my work contribute to the overall success of the project or organization? What impact did I make through my work?  How is the organization better as the result of my efforts?

Insider Tip: Quantifying your accomplishments can provide helpful clarity on the scope of your impact.  Think about any experiences where you increased revenues, decreased costs, improved efficiency, identified potential savings – or anything significant that you can quantify that positively impacted the company or organization.

Leadership Skills.  Including examples of leadership and your ability to get things done can reflect well on you as a candidate.  Leadership is not only defined by assuming specific position titles within student organizations – think about situations where you led an initiative or project, perhaps chaired a committee or assumed an informal leadership role.  Participating in activities is the first step – but emphasize examples of leadership on your resume and try to include (specific) results to highlight your success as a leader.

Other Important Considerations:

Be honest and truthful with all information provided on your resume – do not lie or exaggerate!  Any information on your resume can be checked or verified for accuracy.  Your reputation is important, so ensure all information on your resume is accurate.

If you do not have previous investment banking or financial services work experience, that is ok!  While a previous finance internship can be a plus, many candidates are successful obtaining investment banking internships without work experience in finance.  Focus on demonstrating how you have added value through your previous experiences in other industries and organizations while developing your leadership skills.  Take a positive approach and be confident in your abilities while expressing your willingness to learn.

Insider Tip: Start to think carefully about how you will communicate your story as you will eventually need to explain how your previous experiences (outside of finance) have prepared you for an investment banking internship – as well as the reason(s) why you want to pursue an internship in investment banking if your previous experiences are in other industries or sectors.

Academic Success.  GPA is one factor (but not the only factor) that employers evaluate for investment banking internships – you may be asked to include your GPA as part of the application process.  Each year, employers hire students with a range of GPAs for investment banking internships – the actual GPA range can vary by firm.

If you have any concerns with your grades, there are different ways to overcome them and secure an investment banking internship offer.  Feel free to consult with a career advisor if you have questions on whether to include your GPA on your resume or how to address any academic concerns.

Some employers may ask students to include SAT or ACT scores with their application – so pay attention to the specific information requested by each employer as part of the application process.

Proofread!  Be careful of careless errors.  Attention to detail is extremely important for investment banking positions.  Even small mistakes on a resume are noticed and can hurt a candidate’s chances to secure an interview.  Carefully proofread your resume to make sure there are no mistakes – do not rely solely on spellcheck to catch all errors.

Resume Review Assistance

Submit your resume for review through Career Services!  To submit your request, please visit: https://careerservices.upenn.edu/resume-cover-letter-critiques/.  We are happy to provide feedback and advice on resumes.  Plan ahead and be sure to allow enough time for review prior to submitting your application!

This is the second post in the Investment Banking Insights blog post series.  Stay tuned for the next post on Networking for Investment Banking Internships.

Investment Banking Insight Series – Previous Entries:
Post 1 – Summer 2022 Investment Banking Internship Recruiting Overview

By David Ross
David Ross Senior Associate Director, Wharton Undergrad David Ross