Hiring activity within financial services is on the rise, largely thanks to improved economic conditions and increased industry confidence. However, while banks and financial services recruiters are on the lookout for new talent, it remains an extremely competitive sector, with many talented people hoping to fill those vacancies.
For this reason, when applying for a financial services role, it is important to take extra care with your resume in order to make sure that it is sending out the right message to employers and highlighting the qualities they are looking for. Below are some basic tips to help you write the sort of resume a recruiter wants to see.
1. Tailor your resume to the financial services role you are applying for
It may seem like obvious advice, but tailoring your resume is crucial and many people still fail to do it. While it is perfectly fine to have a generic CV, it must be adapted based on the job specification of the role you are applying for, so that the recruiter knows you are a suitable candidate.
Read the job description carefully and note down the requirements. If a job asks for knowledge of Microsoft Excel, make sure that your resume specifically states that you have that knowledge. A recruiter will want to quickly find out whether you meet the basic requirements, so make it easy for them to find that information.
2. Make sure you nail your personal statement
Your personal statement is a chance to introduce yourself to an employer and present your case for being employed. You need to use it wisely and make a concise statement about why you would be suited to the role. Avoid generic, unsubstantiated terms like ‘driven’ or ‘dedicated’ and focus instead on convincing them that you can do the job.
If you are seeking a career in insurance, for example, you need to think about what someone working in insurance recruitment will want to read. You may feel you have a long list of achievements and qualities to sell, but you need to consider if they are related to the job you are applying for. Keep it to the point!
3. Highlight relevant soft skills and extracurricular activities
As well as detailing academic and work achievements, your resume should outline some of the ‘soft’ skills you possess, like communication and team work. It is not enough to simply state that you have these skills, however, and you must provide evidence. One way to do this is to detail relevant extracurricular pursuits which require these skills.
“We are seeing a lot more applications where graduates involve themselves in so many things from clubs, work experiences, first year programme, volunteering, playing sports and still managing to get top grades,” says Anuranjita Kumar, head of human resources at Citi. Include this information yourself to avoid being left behind.
4. Be specific about what you have achieved
In the financial services industry, more than most other industries, results matter. Therefore, you need to think about your achievements and successes in terms of results. Do not just state what you achieved; expand upon it and talk about what difference it made, or what that achievement did for your employer.
Have you made a difference to their operations? Did you deliver exceptional results? Were you able to overcome significant obstacles? You need to get specific and think about the impact of your work. Recruiters can’t just take your word for granted, they want quantifiable examples of success and what the results of that success were.
5. Less is more. Trim the fat and keep it short.
Finally, think about the length of your resume and whether it can be made shorter. Employers will usually have to wade through a large number of CVs and they could do without reading pages and pages of unnecessary content, so be considerate. Anything which cannot be backed up with an example or evidence should be cut.
“You want your resume to be as short as possible,” says Nadia Capy, Graduate Solutions’ senior account manager. She also suggests stylistic adjustments to reduce length. “Use bullet points to describe your experience and achievements and make sure they cover all the key skills that are specified in the job specification.”
Ian is the founder of Pure Resourcing, a specialist mortgage recruitment firm in the UK. He has been working in financial services recruitment industry for over 20 years and enjoys keeping a close eye on how economic trends influence the financial services industry. Feel free to connect with him on twitter