Sharing the CV Template that got me into investment banking
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Important: a template is the most powerful and efficient way to create an exceptional CV, but the template is only as powerful as your understanding of the nuts and bolts of it. Having a strong understanding of the template components is paramount to being able to take your CV to the next level so that it not only looks convincing but also contains well-written content that you can adjust as you acquire more experience.
For the rest of the article, I’ll dig deeper into sharing the tips and tricks I have acquired from seeing how others made their own CV and reviewing over 100 myself. I may not have all the answers, but I’ll share everything I’ve got because when it comes to the CV, I believe that at least 90% of the advice you need can be conveyed in a template & blog post.
As a side note, if after reading and applying these strategies you think your CV is still a little thin, be sure to check out the “how to boost your CV” post.
Don’t underestimate the importance of the CV
Remember, what might take 10 seconds to read should take us careful thought and extreme diligence to make. It goes without saying that nailing your CV is one of the most important pre-application components we need to get under control to maximise success. You will be submitting your CV to about 95% of job applications (with a few not requesting it at early stages e.g. Barclays), but ultimately, if you’re going to be securing an interview, your CV needs to show up at some point.
Having reviewed 100s of CVs from leading CV Clinics at university, I have come to realise that it is not just your past experiences that matter (which are like a paint pallet), but the way you present your CV is the most important factor to even getting noticed (like the way you use your pallet to paint).
I wanted to make a point about how important the CV is because it can feel monotonous drafting it up and, moreover, checking hundreds of times after editing. I think I read my CV thoroughly at least 150 times in the space of a month during the height of application season. Remember that one mistake can completely ruin your chances in the most competitive fields. Keep the value of this task in mind when those thoughts of impatience creep in.
How long should a CV be?
If Elon Musk can fit it in one page, so can you. Keep your CV to one page, especially if you are still at university. Having said this, consultancy firms usually accept 1-2 page CVs but don’t think this is a ticket for lack of concision: consultancies are notorious for being even pickier and more difficult to convince in terms of how impactful you try to sound.
Format a CV like a pro using hacks I’ve picked up from others
Firstly, I know there are CV builders out there, including ones made by LinkedIn, but I recommend that you stick to creating one using a text editor like Microsoft Word since this will give you the most flexibility in making edits and fine-tuning your CV.
- Do not use tables, use the Microsoft ruler and tab stopper tools.
Getting your CV Format is paramount and there is nothing worse than sitting cramped over a computer screen for 30 mins trying to rectify a Microsoft Word Table. You need to learn to use the ruler and tab stoppers which I will hopefully cover in a future post (feel free to subscribe to the weekly newsletter to not miss this when it is released).
2. Use the line spacing option.
Be super meticulous with the spacing throughout your CV. Rather than entering a new line every time you want to write a new paragraph head over to the layout section, then paragraph spacing and toggle the ‘before’ and ‘after’ spacing gaps to get the exact fit you want.
Adjusting the before and after line spacing becomes even more important when you need to adjust the sizing of your CV e.g. making the text fill one page, or making more space so everything fits on one page. You can see the way I used line spacing to fill the space in the fairly bare template which you can use to make your own CV.
3. Be consistent throughout.
When I was improving my own CV and now, from reading many others, I know how common it is to fall into the trap of inconsistent formatting with things like the date: you should not write ‘Feb’ on one line and then ‘April’ on another – best to keep both to short-form or both to long-form e.g. ‘Feb’ and ‘Apr’.
So being consistent with how you layout dates, locations and where you place the firm name, plus role of each experience are important in presenting a coherent format to the reader.
How to write about past experiences on a CV
Writing about your past experiences is difficult, especially when we’re just at the beginning of our careers. In fact, I think it is the most time consuming and energy-consuming part of the CV. So this is where deep thinking becomes critical. The key is to talk about the impact you had in a past experience. I have found that no one cares about how I shadowed a manager who showed me how to use pivot tables. They care about how I used pivot tables to cut inefficiencies by 10% when analysing the market data for a client.
By the way, being resourceful about what you can extract from your past experiences is key and I am not talking about lying or using overly sophisticated language: I’m talking about being specific with the impact you had in a certain position or responsibility, and the quantified metrics of success to show you made an impact.
I have found that most of us aren’t convincing enough when talking about our past experiences and the impact we had – as I said, it doesn’t come naturally and I’ll break down some strategies that will help you below. Alternatively, some people might not have enough experience, and I was definitely in this position a couple of years ago. I’ll tackle these 2 problems below:
Talking about past experiences to convince them you made an impact
As you’ll see if you signed up to the email list and therefore got sent the CV template, there are 2 frameworks I like to use when structuring how to talk about my past experiences and these all work towards being specific and using numbers to quantify the impact you made:
The ABC method
What you did or achieved [A], how you achieved it [B] and as measured by [C].
- Adapted virtual C.V. Clinics [A] through pioneering new careers portal site [B] with 200+ sign-ups within 24 hours [C].
Remember to not restrict yourself to the ordering of ABC, or if you’re struggling to think about the quantifiable component, think about:
- Number of people that attended e.g. if a talk
- The number of people in the team you led
- The number of analysts you networked with to find out the answer to a problem
The action; impact method
The reason I like this framework so much is that it is so simple (although not necessarily easy). It forces you to really think about the action you made and the impact that had.
- Led team presentation on gamification of education; achieved award for best group presentation.
Building up your portfolio of past experiences.
If you’re in university or have recently graduated, or are proactive enough to find this article before university and are looking for employment earlier, then you have a plethora of opportunities at your disposal, I’ll list a few to get the ball rolling for you:
- University societies and trying to lead in some form e.g. as a fresher representative or member of the executive body.
- If unable to get onto a fresher rep position, making a ‘challenger society’ (like challenger banks, these compete against the main societies; many very successful ‘M&A groups’ have recently sprung up in different universities across the UK as one example).
- Another option if unable to get a fresher rep position: propose your own role through spotting a problem a university society faces e.g. a poor online presence, or an inconsistent social media presence and hence needing new graphic design work – e.g. graphic designing is an extremely scarce skillset at certain universities and yet a paramount skillset for any society with an online presence.
- Signing up to competitions e.g. M&A competitions, or consulting case study competitions. These competitions aren’t just limited to university students – I know of sixth formers that dare to take part too!
- Creating a society in your secondary school before university: you begin to play your own game of pushing boundaries and creating your own extra-curricular opportunities in this way rather than being limited to what is directly available to you.
- Search online persistently for part-time remote internship opportunities e.g. I was fortunate to find one in my first year of university and this was one of the best learning experiences I’ve yet had and at least for me, caused much more development than I got in my spring week, and that’s coming from what was an incredibly well-delivered spring week.
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