“Two things remain irretrievable: time and a first impression.” – Cynthia Ozick
Your resume is your first impression. If people make up their minds about you within minutes of seeing your face, what do you think happens when they meet your resume?
The good news is that you can follow simple principles to make a reviewer feel like they’re in the room with you already. Once this happens, you might get a call.
If a movie and a menu merged… you’d get a solid resume.
Your resume should read like a menu and feel like a movie. Many resumes I’ve seen look and read like public company filings. The idea is to give the reader a sample platter of your experiences and help them visualize who you are through specific examples.
Not sure which experiences to use? Don’t start with a timeline. Start with your values.
The point of everything on your resume is to convey three things: who you are, what you’re good at and what you stand for. “What you did” isn’t a story.
Try listing your values. Mine might be: creative, analytical, responsible, loyal and integrity. This simplifies to a story: “Anish is an analytical, responsible and loyal person with integrity.”
Next, circle or highlight the ones that are pertinent to the role you want. In Investment Banking, all the above would apply, but “analytical”, “responsible” and “integrity” stand out. If you’re not sure which values are relevant, either do some research or don’t worry. Chances are, your core values will apply in some way.
Use this formula to transform values & experiences into bullets.
Once you have your values, every experience you list on your resume now has one job: convey one (or more) of these values with specific examples that demonstrate the value at hand. Use this “formula”: [ACTION] + [OUTCOME] = [AFTERMATH]
For example: “Created our first ever recruiting campaign for the parliamentary debate team, allowing us to double to 20 members. Led to twice as many award-winning finishes (10) in 2020.”
“Created” is the action word (you can Google a list of these so you’re not always recycling) and the first half of the bullet is the action itself. The “outcome” or result is the doubling of team size – but why stop there? Give us the big picture. Doubling the team size is great, but does it really matter without the context of more wins? Think of your own bullets and whether you’re shortchanging yourself.
Don’t get disqualified before the kick off.
Check for typos, spacing errors and formatting oddities. If you have periods at the end of bullets, make sure all of your bullets end with periods.
Use simple fonts (e.g.: Times New Roman, Arial, Helvetica) and avoid Comic Sans at all costs.
Your resume should be one page. Have your name and contact information up top and break up your resume into at least 3 or 4 sections (e.g. education, professional, extra-curricular, community, athletics).
Absolutely include specific hobbies and interests. Investment Banks (like most employers) want to hire real people, not robots.
Lastly, remember that a resume is just a file. It doesn’t contain multitudes like you do. Put your best foot forward but understand that no one ever gets a job offer based on a resume alone. Know the role you want and yourself to the core and you’ll be ready when your phone rings.