Struggling to write a resume that will land you your dream job in financial services?
Don’t worry – it doesn’t have to read like Gordon Gekko’s CV. In fact, when it comes to internships and entry level jobs in finance and banking, your education, extra-curricular and volunteer experience, and customer service jobs are probably sufficient to get your foot in the door.
However, it’s all about how you present what experience you do have to potential employers. Financial services jobs are all about results, so try to write a resume that is chock full of results and accomplishments, complete with the facts and figures to back you up.
These are the top five things you should definitely include on your resume when you’re applying to financial services jobs:
Your education – with a business focus
This one seems obvious, but you should always put your degree and expected graduation date at the top of your resume. In addition to that, it’s a good idea to list some of the business, finance, economics, statistics and math courses you’ve taken so employers have an idea of what you’ve learned so far.
You should also somehow indicate your grades, such as your GPA or that you’ve made the dean’s list. Employers may also ask you to include an unofficial transcript, but it’s a good idea to mention that you’re an financial whiz kid on your resume too. Be loud and proud when it comes to your academic accomplishments!
Not a business student? Take at least one or two business, finance or accounting courses while you’re in school and include those on your resume to demonstrate to employers that you have a genuine interest in working in financial services. Plus, this way you won’t be totally clueless when you finally do land a job.
Your work experience
Put any finance-related experience near the top of your resume – no, you don’t have to organize your resume in chronological order! Organize it in order of relevance to the job you’re applying for instead. This is called a “functional” resume.
Feature the name of the organization you worked for prominently, especially if it’s a large financial institution. Include a couple of concise, action-oriented points about your accomplishments in that role. You don’t have to mention everything you ever did there – instead, focus on accomplishments that relate directly to the responsibilities that you will have in the role you’re applying for, swapping out words for synonyms found in the job description.
Customer service experience:
While slightly less relevant than financial service experience, your customer service jobs should also be front and centre on your resume. Keep each bullet point focused on your work with customers or clients instead of other tasks:
- How many customers did you work with in an hour? A day?
- Were you ever recognized by your employer for your commitment to serving their customers?
- How did your customer service efforts benefit the company’s bottom line?
Extra-curricular and volunteer activities
Financial services employers are looking for leaders who take time to give back to their local communities, so your extra-curricular and volunteer activities should be featured prominently as well.
If you held a leadership role in a student group, club or association, outline how many members you led, what your main accomplishments were during your leadership term, and what the results of those accomplishments were for the group.
Here are a few ideas:
- Did membership increase during your leadership term? By how many members or what percentage? What efforts did you undertake to increase membership?
- Did you increase corporate sponsorships? How many new companies did you sign on and by how much did your total sponsorship dollars increase?
- Did you raise funds for a non-profit organization? How much did you raise and how did you raise it?
Dollars and cents
Many jobs in the financial services industry are all about working with numbers, so you should include as many as you can on your resume. While this is a best practice for any type of resume, it’s particularly important for jobs in finance and banking. For every bullet point that you include your resume, you should ask yourself, “Is there any way I can say ‘how much’ or ‘how many’?”
Show employers that you’re comfortable working with and thinking about numbers, calculations, dollars and cents. If you were responsible for any kind of budget at your jobs or extra-curricular activities, mention the dollar value and how efficiently you spent it.
Did you save your group or company money? Great – explain how you saved it and how much you saved. Employers are looking for future financial leaders who are responsible and ethical with the finances of their clients or the companies they work for. A history of managing money well – even if it’s a relatively small dollar value – says a lot about you to employers in the financial services industry.
Many finance jobs require the use of complex software tools and Excel spreadsheets to gather and analyze financial data. Pay particular attention to the software titles listed in the job description and, if you have experience with them or software like them (either at school or work), include them on your resume.
What are your financial services resume tips?
Photo credit: The Market by Iman Mosaad on Flickr