Can you imagine your chances of becoming an engineer at Goldman Sachs? Even if you’re the perfect fit for the job, a bad first impression can get in the way.
Your CV is the first thing a bank recruiter will see of you. These are rules to follow to ensure you avoid the dreaded discard pile.
context is key
Knowing how to use a wide range of technologies and languages is great, but dumping them all into one big list won’t do you any favors.
Banks want to know where and how you have used your technology stack. Machine learning recruiting specialist and Claypot AI co-founder Chip Huyen advises giving a one-sentence description of the function he performed with a certain piece of technology. The r/engineeringresumes forum on Reddit recommends starting this with a strong action verb like “delivered” or “implemented”, but cautions against using “used” as it has history attached to an overly wordy sentence.
If you have used a particular technology at work, please mention it in the context of an employer and your work experience. Kirsty Tutton, head of technology at finance recruiting firm Selby Jennings, says her “banking clients like to see the stack of technology used for each role rather than one big list.”
If you haven’t used a technology at work, it can be more complicated. You can reserve a space at the bottom of your resume to showcase the work you’ve done on StackOverflow.
XYZ vs ABCD for bullets
Starting a bullet point with a strong verb is one thing, but completing the rest optimally is even more difficult.
Google recruiters suggest the XYZ method to build your bullets. This means it should say “Succeeded [X]measured by [Y]doing [Z].” A simple and effective method, without a doubt, but not the only one.
Evy Kassirer, software engineer at Pilot.com, suggests a 4-step process: Skill, Task, Tools, Result (ABCD rolls off the tongue a bit better than STTR)
Under these methods, improving the efficiency of high frequency trading code could be written as “Optimized performance of low latency code, minimizing tick-to-trade latency by implementing routines in C++”, in XYZ or ” Optimized low latency C++ code, using coroutines to decrease tick-to-trade latency”.
The two approaches share similarities at first glance, but XYZ prioritizes results, while ABCD emphasizes process. Use both accordingly to highlight what you think is most important for a given project.
Choose your metrics wisely
Measuring success is somewhat difficult in an engineering context. Experienced coders have scoffed at arbitrary metrics like lines of code… So how do you stand out?
Huyen cautions against quantified metrics, saying that “not everything that is quantifiable has an impact.” Clarifying how these metrics played a role in achieving business goals or contributed to personal development will make them much more effective.
However, in banking, certain metrics receive additional attention. Tutton advises using “large scale migration” or “speeding up performance” examples. You too should Mention the range of asset classes you’ve worked on, as banks “will sometimes discount resumes on the basis that they don’t show experience in a particular asset class.”
Don’t shorten it just because.
A one page CV is the gold standard, short and sweet for recruiters. But just because you can narrow it down to 1 page doesn’t mean doing so will improve your odds.
Huyen said he doesn’t reject CVs for being longer than one page, but strongly advises against it. She says, “I rarely see a candidate whose best step forward can’t be contained on one page.”
Even for those with more seniority, he cautions that a longer resume carries “a greater chance of your greatest strengths getting buried in less important details,” and that a wordy, unfocused resume “shows a lack of judgment about what’s important.”
Can’t keep your CV below one page? Try removing references, soft skills, and indentation. A well-chosen font can also make a significant difference, but make sure whatever you choose is easy to read.
An example of a meticulously space-optimized CV comes from Evy Kassirer
Be honest about your “experience”
Banking is a career that is all about progression and growth. You will be given the opportunity to improve your skills, but you must be honest about what skills you are Really an expert, and in which you only have a little knowledge
Huyen says that “it takes time to gain experience. I’m skeptical of people who claim to be experts in too many things.”
An easy way to be honest, suggested by Tutton, is to “offer a ranking of five in order of skills within specific languages.”
Honesty is important beyond technical expertise. Leadership roles, for example, vary from title to title, and Tutton says it’s important to specify whether your role was ‘people management’ or ‘product leader’. Plus, job titles can also mean vastly different things from industry to industry (VP is a particularly egregious example), so being honest about your responsibilities in a role helps clear up the confusion.
Don’t forget the basics
While it’s important to specialize your CV for banking, there are some basic elements that good CVs in all industries possess.
- Save the file as PDF. Please.
- Make sure your contact information and links to GitHub etc. are accurate.
- No photos. Pretty please.
- No confidential information, for your own good.
- Do not abuse text in bold, italics or color.
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