Filtering resumes - what I looked for when screening 200+ resumes

Mod Note (Andy): This was originally posted 12/30/14 and is a great read for those getting prepared for Summer Analyst recruiting

We're preparing for our OCR interview day for summer interns from one of our target schools and our team received 200+ resumes from HR. Thinking "I can make a WSO thread about this", I volunteered to do the initial cull over the Christmas/NY break. This involved filtering the resumes into "Yes", "No" and "Maybe" stacks in the half a day I had patience to do this.

Some of my observations below from the experience below. But first, disclaimers:

  • my comments and criticisms reflect my personal tastes and preferences;
  • my comments are not nuggets of eternal truth falling from heaven and there is not one, canonical approach to writing a resume;
  • if my comments contradict what you've heard elsewhere, use your discretion;
  • my comments also reflect what I'm looking for in a summer intern coming into my team, which may not be the sort of team you want to get into

Cover letters
I commented last year that I barely look at cover letters (http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/resume-and-cover-letter-a-reviewe…).

This year, our HR guys didn't even bother including cover letters. This made reviewing 200+ resumes a lot easier.

How do you review 200+ resumes in one day
Here's the thing. As wonderful as each applicant is, you are a commodity. Your resumes largely look the same in format (which I actually like - see "Format" below) and there is not that much differentiation in the content that I read.

Those italicised words are important - when I'm reviewing >200 resumes and looking to cull that down to a more digestible size (that I and others will review in more detail), I'm skimming through the content and applying high level filtering heuristics so I can get through the stack quickly and efficiently, largely by filtering out people.

Some of the comments below may seem petty or irrational. However, bear in mind that this culling process means I'm looking for any reason - or even emotion - to put reduce the stack of second look resumes.

As the clock ticks, I get more tired of looking at these resumes, just like you would get bored doing quality inspection on some other commodity product like apples. However, when sorting commodities, you're looking to maximise the "yes" pile. Here, I'm trying to maximise the "no" pile so I end up with a manageable stack of resumes for the next round of consideration. In this scenario, there is no benefit of the doubt.

What is interesting is some of the heuristics that emerge and what I learned about my own prejudices.

As you read through my observations, bear in mind that these just apply to the first round cull. In the next round of reviews, I and my colleagues will be looking at the content in more detail and more judiciously. So your resume must be able to make it through several readings which apply different benchmarks.

Format
I became very attached to the standard resume format and font size. When reviewing this many resumes, I want to be efficient and I want to find the information I'm after where I expect it to be.

Don't give the prejudicial part of my brain a reason to shift the dial to "reject". This is more a risk the more commodified/less distinguished your work experience.

Formatting that annoyed me:

  • Larger than normal font size and 1.5 line spacing - looked like you are covering up for lack of content; just looked odd after looking at 199 identical resumes
  • Fancy bullet points - I like my bullet points round and solid, or dashes, not fancy pant bullets.
  • Using prose rather than bullet points to explain professional experience

Name
This is where the stereotyping heuristics start. I'm trying to build up a sense of who you are based on a very quick read.

What was interesting was how quickly latent stereotypes in my thinking would fill in the blanks. Good resumes counteracted any negative stereotypes.

I have an ethnic surname, are you a racist?
When I saw non-European surnames indicating possibility of international students (mainly Chinese, Korean and Indian names), the concern that came to mind was "may not speak English well".

This is prejudice and I am a bad, bad white Anglo Saxon man for it. On the other hand, my final pile contained mainly Chinese, Korean and Indian names (strongly outweighing the few European and African names), so perhaps sub-subconsciously, I'm a self-loathing white man. On the third hand, most of the starting pile were Indian, Chinese and Korean. Who knows?

Good tactics I saw that counteracted my possible prejudice:

Including an English first name.

  • In terms of my prejudices, preferred to least preferred are: (1) Bob Liang, (2) Bob (Liuzhang) Liang, (3) Liuzhang (Bob) Liang.
  • Unless you're applying for a role where being Chinese/other ethnic is specifically value adding to the role, I suggest (1).
  • Note that you don't need to have the same name on your driver's license, passport etc. You can make it up today (but be prepared to live with the name).
  • Indians - I include you guys here. India's English has a bad reputation.

Listing your US high school with start and end dates

  • This tells me you've lived here a while, not just for your undergraduate degree, so you're more likely to be fluent.
  • I appreciated seeing high school listed for ethnic names which suggested non-fluency, thought it was irrelevant for non-ethnic

Including references to "presenting", to participation in debate competitions or other presentations in an English context

  • This tells me your English is pretty good
  • I'd also include things like translation and editorial roles for publications here; just make it clear that you're editing English language articles if there is any element of doubt
  • Similarly, if you write articles for student publications, online etc - include those in your extracurriculars

Singaporeans

  • Singaporeans who used high school education or something else to make it clear that, despite their Mandarin fluency and Chinese name, they grew up in Singapore, so are at least fluent in Singlish

US-based internships or other English speaking, Western nation internships

  • Tells me your English was good enough to get through an interview process successfully, as well as working in an English speaking environment

Languages

  • I've previously told people who are native English/ethnic name combinations not to list English here. However, this process has changed my view. If you think your resume otherwise does not make it clear you're down with English, put "Native English" here. The best one I saw for a kid who (I can only assume at this stage) grew up bilingual was "Native English and Mandarin".

Things I saw that didn't help:

  • High school in India or China, even at an international school - instead, just don't list it
  • Multiple internships in home country - Suggests that you're too native, not enough proof of ability to work in English speaking environment (and I do appreciate many Indian offices operate in English, but I'm not going to give you the benefit of the doubt because I'm looking to cull people)

Mission statement/explanation
I saw one resume where the applicant include one line below his name to explain he started in one degree, then switched to another. I'm currently in favour of this sort of touch - it made his resume more "eyeball sticky".

Maybe even you could include a sort of mission statement here (short, brief, no more than one line).

I haven't firmed up a view on this. If I saw this too many times, I'd probably think they were all cliched.

GPA
I really didn't spend any time thinking about this. We have a GPA cut off of 3.2 or 3.3, so all I need to know at this stage is you've made this cut.

At this stage, GPA is not relevant and I'm more interested in your work experience and the rest of the resume.

GPA will be more relevant later as a tie-breaker for candidates, which is after we've interviewed, after we've tested, once we've got our final shortlist.

One thing to note - some people did list their GPA to 3 decimal places. 2 dp I can understand if you're just under something like 3.45. 3 dp is just silly.

Being silly has a negative influence on my heuristics when I'm making a quick yes/no/maybe decision.

Course and coursework
I'm not from the US, so I'm still a little in the dark about the relative strengths of B.Sci with Finance major vs BA with Economics major vs etc etc.

I did appreciate a listing a relevant course work as it gave me more colour. I particularly liked to see "Accounting" listed, because it demonstrates some familiarity with financial statements and working with financial numbers.

High school
Unless you're trying to reverse language/cultural prejudices your name may trigger (see above), I don't care where you went to high school, what your SAT or high school GPA was, whether you were school captain, whether you captained a sports team or if you were voted "Most Likely to Succeed" (and this was just on one resume).

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

Renaming this section something else
I don't want to see volunteer positions mixed in with professional (put them in Leadership Experience/Extracurricular Activities or whatever else you call the next section).

I want to see professional experience ie roles where you've worked under paid, professional discipline and had to pass through an interview process to get there. Having made it successfully through interview processes for earlier internships or jobs is important, as interviewing you is what we plan to do.

Case study competitions
Some people listed these. These are no professional experience. Including them just looks like you don't have enough professional experience to fill in these area enough. Don't do it.

Volunteer positions
Not professional. Send it to extracurricular.

Strong names
I like to see names in the PE/banking/HR universe that I recognise, because it tells me you could get through their interview process and you've done an internship in something that has reinforced your academic finance skills.

I'm sure I'm missing out on many candidates who could do the job wonderfully who don't have finance names on their resume, but my job at this stage is to cull, not to give the benefit of the doubt.

However, if someone has done a BB internship, particularly in IBD or something else that is not PWM, I start to ask myself "Is she/he a serious candidate, or will she/he just go back to the BB? Or will they just trade that name to move further up the BB ladder and reject any offer we make?". I screened out some people who had BB names in their history on this basis.

For the ethnically named - multiple internships in home country
This flows on from the language discussion above. A few comments on my reaction to multiple internships in India, China, Korea from people with names from the same place:

  • Suggests that you're too native, not enough proof of ability to work in English speaking environment (and I do appreciate many Indian offices operate in English, but I'm not going to give you the benefit of the doubt because I'm looking to cull people)
  • Also suggests that you got these positions through family connections rather than having to work for them (particularly for internships in Korea and China) and couldn't get through interviews in the US - bear in mind perhaps this prejudice is rare and I only have it because I worked in Asia for a long time and understand how things are done there
  • Also suggests that you're more attached to mother country than US, so that you won't return full time after your internship

Key words I liked to see
I was skimming the bullet points, maybe then only skimming 50% of what was written. Key words that caught my eye (which reflect my teams' focus):

  • comparables analysis
  • competition or industry analysis/research
  • due diligence
  • modeling
  • DCF valuation
  • presented
  • leveraged buy out
  • distressed debt

Key words that made me scrunch my forehead in puzzlement
Resumes that had things like "used VLOOKUP to..." in the experience. This looked odd. I appreciate you're trying to signal you are an intermediate Excel user, but still, it looks odd.

Funky name start-op, Founder
This is an emerging trend. There seems to be an online market place for second hand books for every 10 students at each university. I expect this will increase. I've done some research into some of the websites and they are nothing but facades. I call bullshit on most of these. No harm including these, but not much upside at this stage in the filtering process unless it's clear that real work was involved (eg flying to China or Bangladesh to source clothing).

LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE/EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES/WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL THIS STUFF

  • Everyone lists case competitions. I like to see finalist positions.
  • Everyone has funded something through a kickstarter campaign, you little exemplars of crowd-sourced funding, you. Whatever.

Generally, this section will confirm a tentative view I've already formed after going through the professional section or it will count for nothing.

That is, if there is great voluntary stuff in here, but it doesn't reinforce strengths already apparent from the foregoing sections, then it's not going to count for much.

On the other hand, something could hit an interest spot for me that moves you from borderline to "maybe" or "yes". There's no way to predict what that may be, so shoot wide and be diverse.

SKILLS AND INTEREST

  • See my comment above on languages. Languages are a plus. List languages.
  • One applicant listed "Interested in learning [language]". Weird. I'm interested in making $10bn on a share trading portfolio, but I wouldn't put that unfulfilled intention on my resume.
  • I like sports listed here. It demonstrates a rounded personality and ability to work in teams in a fluid environment. Fencing is clearly popular among Asian applicants.
  • One kid listed boxing at the boxing gym I go to. That made me revise his resume and put him in the "yes" pile, even though he was otherwise borderline. Such is luck.

OTHER TIPS

  • One kid listed some award or exam result as "prestigious". I immediately though of the prestige threads on WSO and looked no further, put his resume in the "no" pile.

I had more observations, but I need to do some work today. I'll come back with those comments later, along with some higher level comments.

Again, bear in mind that my comments are about how I conducted the initial screening. These comments are not universal in their application - eg a resume that got through this initial stage will be reviewed in more detail later, possibly screened out.

 
slevento:

What about for people who don't include GPA on their resume, are those instant no?

Looks weird, raises doubt. You'd only not disclose if it was negative.

On the other hand, this has come through target school OCR, so I assume the candidate has met our minimum GPA. Per my comment above, I don't really care about GPA at this stage.

However, when I'm making snap decisions, I think the negative influence of no GPA disclosure means it takes a slightly stronger resume overall to avoid the "no" pile.

Those who can, do. Those who can't, post threads about how to do it on WSO.
 

For anyone with less than 3 years full time experience, I assume not listing a GPA means it's below (and probably well below) a 3.0...anything above a 3.0 should be on there. Most banks have resume cut offs, so if you're below the cut off your resume is never getting to me. If between 3.0 and cutoff, reach out directly to a banker, crush the phone screen and hopefully they will go to bat for you.

 

Not 100% related to the thread, but since you mention it, what defines a phone screen? Is that a first round interview over the phone or just when you're speaking with someone at a firm in an informational interview or networking call and, after speaking with them, they say they can get you a first round?

Make Idaho a Semi-Target Again 2016 Not an alumnus of Idaho
 

Thanks SSits, this is gold.

I just want to add that in Europe, applicants have to go through numerous verbal/numerical/situational judgment tests and all resumes are vetted by HR. Recruitment is much more formalised which goes some way towards reducing some of the biases mentioned above.

That said, I just changed the name on my CV, just to be safe.

 
London-Monkey:
I just want to add that in Europe, applicants have to go through numerous verbal/numerical/situational judgment tests and all resumes are vetted by HR. Recruitment is much more formalised which goes some way towards reducing some of the biases mentioned above.

For campus recruitment, HR applies some initial screens (probably just GPA) and we see the same pool of resumes that goes to a much bigger team that usually takes 50 - 80 interns (hence 200+ applications).

Process for us then is (a) our team screens, then (b) initial interviews with a day's worth a candidates, (b) we then screen and send a shortlist to testing, (c) we screen again based on assessments and different people interview those, (d) all interviewers then agree a final shortlist and order those who have survived from offers to stand-by.

Those who can, do. Those who can't, post threads about how to do it on WSO.
 
Hugh Myron:

Do you do screenings for laterals as well? If so, does that change your view on anything, such as excluding GPA

For laterals, we have a recruiter who screens and we end up getting 4 - 6 candidates. So I just go straight to interview mode.

Generally we don't look at laterals until they've been >=2 years in the work force. GPA is a lot less relevant at that point, but we'd still be looking at >3.0. Most I've seen have been >=3.2, based on hazy memories.

Hugh Myron:
Does putting a gold star and writing "WSO Certified User" after my name increase my prestige and put it into the "yes" pile, assuming the reader is also on WSO?

Nah, it's more like a displaceable presumption of guilt.

I forgot to mention - @AndyLouis - there was one person who had WSO intern on their resume and that shifted them from the "no" pile to "maybe" pile, if only so that I could mention that in this thread.

Those who can, do. Those who can't, post threads about how to do it on WSO.
 
SSits:
Hugh Myron:

Do you do screenings for laterals as well? If so, does that change your view on anything, such as excluding GPA

For laterals, we have a recruiter who screens and we end up getting 4 - 6 candidates. So I just go straight to interview mode.

Generally we don't look at laterals until they've been >=2 years in the work force. GPA is a lot less relevant at that point, but we'd still be looking at >3.0. Most I've seen have been >=3.2, based on hazy memories.

Hugh Myron:

Does putting a gold star and writing "WSO Certified User" after my name increase my prestige and put it into the "yes" pile, assuming the reader is also on WSO?

Nah, it's more like a displaceable presumption of guilt.

I forgot to mention - @AndyLouis - there was one person who had WSO intern on their resume and that shifted them from the "no" pile to "maybe" pile, if only so that I could mention that in this thread.

I know you're joking but what about someone that had WSO Speaker on their resume for the webinar? I don't have it on because I gave the same talk to a class of MBA/MSF students which looked more preftigious.

 
Best Response

I think the key takeaway from the post is that the person has a LOT of resumes to go through and will look to filter out rather than filter in. Doing some of the things mentioned may help increase your chances of not getting rejected but the emphasis for someone applying for a job should be on landing that interview (or job), rather than "not getting rejected" since as the OP points out, there are just so many resumes to get through and applicants at this stage are a commodity.

And this is why networking is so important, whether its on campus, in your internships, at a bar/coffeeshop etc. People are everywhere and if they like you or have some positive thought it makes all the difference to get you into the "yes" pile to get an interview and makes the resume reader's job so much easier since its one less sheet of paper to scan...

Good Luck to all and wishing everyone a Happy New Year

I used to do Asia-Pacific PE (kind of like FoF). Now I do something else but happy to try and answer questions on that stuff.
 

Been out of school for 2 years working in back office without formal investment/analysis experience, how can one pique your interest to just at least interview the person? What kinds of credentials/certificates/things can the person do to improve the resume?

 

Do you know any front office people? Have you hung out with them or offered to help them? Do they like you? Ask them about their lives, jobs etc, so you can be seen as a good candidate - ie. a nice person who works hard that they would not mind spending a lot of time with... (I am assuming you are back office at a bank/fund etc).

I used to do Asia-Pacific PE (kind of like FoF). Now I do something else but happy to try and answer questions on that stuff.
 
Jamoldo:

Do you know any front office people? Have you hung out with them or offered to help them? Do they like you? Ask them about their lives, jobs etc, so you can be seen as a good candidate - ie. a nice person who works hard that they would not mind spending a lot of time with... (I am assuming you are back office at a bank/fund etc).

Being in this far back office at a bb, I don't get to interact with front office. Any networking events are strictly only for/within ops and ops is in a different building from front office. They really don't want you to move out.

 

Definitely you are right about the number of candidates having both work experience and grades. However, it seems to me that the amount of work experience doesn't matter e.g. whether you put in the effort to get more than 1 relevant internship or just 1 internship itself. Maybe it boils down to luck whether the person reviewing your resume is "bored" or "tired".

 

SSits, a few questions.

  1. I suppose this is interviewing for Associate positions (out of MBA), since you included relevant work experience as an important factor. Do you make a distinction between schools here?

  2. If you are an international student with a different GPA scale, would you recommend to list only this GPA, only the class percentile or both?

  3. I have a fulltime job (well known firm and industry), and have a startup with two friends on the side that is reasonably taking off (i.e. not making millions but a decent revenue and profit). Would you list this as extra curricular or work experience?

Thanks a lot and have a good new year!

 
LiamNeeson:
I suppose this is interviewing for Associate positions (out of MBA), since you included relevant work experience as an important factor. Do you make a distinction between schools here?

Summer interns. I've amended my original post to make this clear. My team generally doesn't take MBA grads. We prefer to take people straight out of undergrad or lateral hires.

If you are an international student with a different GPA scale, would you recommend to list only this GPA, only the class percentile or both?

I'm not the best person to ask this question. I was looking at resumes from a US target school, so all had GPAs and I was looking for GPA. I wasn't looking at international resumes and haven't thought about those before.

I have a fulltime job (well known firm and industry), and have a startup with two friends on the side that is reasonably taking off (i.e. not making millions but a decent revenue and profit). Would you list this as extra curricular or work experience?

Fine for work experience as it's turning and making real money.

Those who can, do. Those who can't, post threads about how to do it on WSO.
 

@LeverageMill

It does make it hard, but not impossible. I am hoping that those with less than a 3.0 have a good reason, or story of success as to the cause for this.

Personally, my GPA does not get listed, mostly due to the fact that I have over 15 years of professional experience, at least 7 in the finance industry. I have a degree, I have been promoted, I have a track record. And the reason for the MBS desk while in school and was so busy and learned so much more at the office than in the classroom, at the time, it seemed like the right choice. The conversation normally moves in a very positive direction from there.

Looking back, do I regret not putting more effort into school now? Absolutely, but my experience and stories have gotten me offers from at least 50% of the companies that I have had face to face interviews with.

GTAA Mistmaker
 
CZtrader:
Personally, my GPA does not get listed, mostly due to the fact that I have over 15 years of professional experience, at least 7 in the finance industry. I have a degree, I have been promoted, I have a track record.

I agree with this approach.

To be clear to others, my OP was about screening summer intern resumes.

For someone who has been in the finance profession for a few years and coming is as a lateral hire, I wouldn't be looking for GPA at all and would be much more interested in professional expertise.

Also, for laterals, we have recruiters who do the screening and pre-interviews for us to check out background and experience and we rely on them to screen.

Those who can, do. Those who can't, post threads about how to do it on WSO.
 
CZtrader:

@LeverageMill

It does make it hard, but not impossible. I am hoping that those with less than a 3.0 have a good reason, or story of success as to the cause for this.

Personally, my GPA does not get listed, mostly due to the fact that I have over 15 years of professional experience, at least 7 in the finance industry. I have a degree, I have been promoted, I have a track record. And the reason for the <3.0 is that I was on a MBS desk while in school and was so busy and learned so much more at the office than in the classroom, at the time, it seemed like the right choice. The conversation normally moves in a very positive direction from there.

Looking back, do I regret not putting more effort into school now? Absolutely, but my experience and stories have gotten me offers from at least 50% of the companies that I have had face to face interviews with.

Happy New Year! Got out of work early again! Woo

I do not know your full story but mine is completely different from yours. If I were to tell it 6-12 months ago it would look alot like a kid who ran out of fingers to point at people. Truth was, I was lazy and wanted to live that college life until the very last second.

Sometimes (especially 6-12 months ago) I would wake up, my t shirt, thighs and bedsheet drench in my own cold nasty sweat. I had just dreamt that I overslept for an exam, only to realize I am back in my parent's house, in my clustered room, filled with white uneven flaking paint, a laptop and some small possessions on top of an awkwardly large L shaped desk stuffed in to this closet of a room, hovering over my bed. My feet pushes against the metal bed frame like a hand in an handcuff, trying to steal the coldness of the metal but.. nothing. The mid afternoon heat had already seeped into this closet of a room and evolved itself into lava.

I am far away from college. Away from the bright but smothered sunlight that filled my fully furnished cozy 1700sq ft bedroom with furniture, a walk in closet, private bath and my beloved queen size bed. My queen sized bed that felt never ending to my rested body and mind. Far away from the steps outside my bedroom door that leads me to an open spacious kitchen and living room. Away from emptied packages hotpockets, a carton of orange juice and other groceries left forgotten around the counter top. It was almost peaceful except for the washer and dryer tumbling in the corner. Outside, parked right in front of this beautiful student villa was my brand new 2014 Rav4 that can take me anywhere I want. For one whole year I felt how it feels to be KING; invincible, impeccable. But now It almost feels like I was never there, that I never left my twin size bed. Sad that I will never have the opportunity to get A's.

I got carried away.. my attempt at a vignette

 
LeverageMill:
Happy New Year! Got out of work early again! Woo

I do not know your full story but mine is completely different from yours. If I were to tell it 6-12 months ago it would look alot like a kid who ran out of fingers to point at people. Truth was, I was lazy and wanted to live that college life until the very last second.

Sometimes (especially 6-12 months ago) I would wake up, my t shirt, thighs and bedsheet drench in my own cold nasty sweat. I had just dreamt that I overslept for an exam, only to realize I am back in my parent's house, in my clustered room, filled with white uneven flaking paint, a laptop and some small possessions on top of an awkwardly large L shaped desk stuffed in to this closet of a room, hovering over my bed. My feet pushes against the metal bed frame like a hand in an handcuff, trying to steal the coldness of the metal but.. nothing. The mid afternoon heat had already seeped into this closet of a room and evolved itself into lava.

I am far away from college. Away from the bright but smothered sunlight that filled my fully furnished cozy 1700sq ft bedroom with furniture, a walk in closet, private bath and my beloved queen size bed. My queen sized bed that felt never ending to my rested body and mind. Far away from the steps outside my bedroom door that leads me to an open spacious kitchen and living room. Away from emptied packages hotpockets, a carton of orange juice and other groceries left forgotten around the counter top. It was almost peaceful except for the washer and dryer tumbling in the corner. Outside, parked right in front of this beautiful student villa was my brand new 2014 Rav4 that can take me anywhere I want. For one whole year I felt how it feels to be KING; invincible, impeccable. But now It almost feels like I was never there, that I never left my twin size bed. Sad that I will never have the opportunity to get A's.

I got carried away.. my attempt at a vignette

Does this short story end in suicide? It's got all the making of that sort of story.

(has king size bed)

Those who can, do. Those who can't, post threads about how to do it on WSO.
 

[quote=CZtrader]

@LeverageMill

It does make it hard, but not impossible. I am hoping that those with less than a 3.0 have a good reason, or story of success as to the cause for this.

How will i get to explain my story when the recruiter throws my resume in the "No" pile the second he sees my 2.8 GPA?

 
Wedding Crasher:

How will i get to explain my story when the recruiter throws my resume in the "No" pile the second he sees my 2.8 GPA?

If you're in the no pile, doesn't that makes it a little difficult to explain your story? (i.e. not selected for interview... who are you planning on speaking to?)
Currently: future neurologist, current psychotherapist Previously: investor relations (top consulting firm), M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM)
 

International student here. I appreciate your insights. I have 2 relevant internships in the US, so I believe my english is fine. Quick question: During my initial pitch, I say something like... I am an international student, thus I had to face additional challenges that domestic student don't face (I believe it implies I am hardworking). Such as: "taking classes in a new language", adapting to a new culture, being away from family, etc. Sometimes I mention that all my classes in high school were in spanish, thus I had to work harder to adapt to college. - What do you think about my strategy? Would it cross your mind that my english sucks? Any advise would be appreciated.

Thanks and happy new year!

 

@Woozy - Mostly due to internal HR job discriptions, if it says that it is required, it is 99% required. Having these is not always a good thing, but it keeps the lawyers away.

GTAA Mistmaker
 

@woozy - Sure. In the wonderful HR Generalist role, a job description has listed requirements that a person must meet in order to be brought in for an interview. These numbers, years’ experience, prior roles, certifications, ect.. are normally created by a manager in the hiring department and an HR Generalist. One of these for entry positions is normally GPA. Something like, "4 year finance degree or similar, with a minimum 3.2 GPA". If everyone they bring in meets all of these requirements, then they are seen as "qualified" and therefore can be brought it and interviewed. The lawyer part is a bit trickier to explain, but it is rooted in Equal Opportunity Employment and Discrimination. You must be able to prove that you hired the most qualified candidate for the position based on discernable factors. One of the easiest is GPA. It helps HR fend off lawsuits from those not hired or interviewed for what they feel is a discriminatory reason. It also removes some favoritism hiring by managers. Judy can’t just promote Sally to an Accounting role because they are great friends, when she is currently just a receptionist with no Accounting skills. It is similar to credit scores and getting a mortgage. If they clearly state that you need a 720 to get this interest rate, a person with a 715 score cannot say they received a higher rate due to their race, gender, religion, ect.

Being that I have a sub-3.0 myself, I do everything I can to still get interviews that require a 3.5GPA, but I need to give them enough proof of other qualifications to erase any doubt that hiring me could be called into question by any other candidate.

Sorry if I am not completely clear, am writing this on my phone and traveling.

GTAA Mistmaker
 

this thread is the cold hard truth... The reality is the not getting high enough grades out of school is going to make your life 100x harder getting a job right out of school, especially for competitive internships like this. You will need to do that much more networking, be that much more intelligent, that much hungrier.

Most students that have a low GPA don't have a great excuse -- and it's a red flag that makes it easy to throw resumes away and weed the pile down. Why should they consider you when you can't put in the work at school to get As? The implication is either you aren't as smart or you are lazy...

For those in the US with a low GPA, just be thankful you aren't in Europe where the recruiting process is even more structured. At least here it's easier to network your way into an interview with a low GPA...

speaking of... http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/event/webinar-networking-in-europe-5pm-e…

 
WallStreetOasis.com:
Most students that have a low GPA don't have a great excuse -- and it's a red flag that makes it easy to throw resumes away and weed the pile down. Why should they consider you when you can't put in the work at school to get As? The implication is either you aren't as smart or you are lazy...

And even if the excuse is valid, people reading the resumes aren't likely to have time or interest to give you the benefit of the doubt. Similar to @brooksfit's comment on internships - there's plenty of other candidates with all the same or better non-GPA stuff on their resumes, plus a decent GPA. Other things being equal on the resumes in a situation where my time is a scarce resource, I'll opt for the person with the good GPA.

This is contrary to the "you can do anything" myth, but life is harsh.

Those who can, do. Those who can't, post threads about how to do it on WSO.
 

I think it depends on whether you are referring to headhunters or PE firms themselves. The following is based on what I got when I spoke to my seniors and friends.

Headhunters: They care a lot more about the brand name of the firm you are working at.

PE Firms: It depends on the role you are interviewing for. Based on my understanding, for larger PE firms, there is an origination role and an execution role. I believe that the origination role should be more lenient in terms of requirements. On the other hand, the execution role requires people with prior modelling experience in IBD/PE/Valuation related roles.

 

I can confirm you are correct. Headhunters care mainly about brand name IB shops and their placement history (and it goes w/out saying, modeling skills and M&A exposure). Deal origination/business development roles have been popping up among MM PE shops and larger PE shops as well and they look for a different skill set. These people are constantly pitching their PE firm to targets, maintaining relationships w/ C-level executives and thus are not required to have as solid of a financial modeling background (if the role is purely origination/BD). On the execution side, people are hired from a traditional IB background (typically are expected to have worked on sell-side M&A deals and are expected to be very familiar w/ pitch books and CIMs). Very tough/near impossible to break into PE w/out headhunters and w/out a brand name bank on your resume - that's where networking and who you know come into the picture - but even then it may not be enough

 

MBA GPA, in my experience, definitely matters. Some top tier MBA programs have taken to grade non-disclosure practices to ensure that a bad GPA doesn't ruin the ROI of the MBA.

In my experience, MBAs with GPAs of 3.7+ from perceived tier-2 schools will be treated with the same level of courtesy afforded to their top-tier grade-non-disclosed counterparts.

Having recently landed a gig in PE, I believe that grades, work experience, military experience, bilingualism and extracurriculars all helped, but the fact that I networked my way into going for coffee with three of the directors/VPs individually, is probably what got me the job.

Double Doubler
 
Paladin3:

MBA GPA, in my experience, definitely matters. Some top tier MBA programs have taken to grade non-disclosure practices to ensure that a bad GPA doesn't ruin the ROI of the MBA.

In my experience, MBAs with GPAs of 3.7+ from perceived tier-2 schools will be treated with the same level of courtesy afforded to their top-tier grade-non-disclosed counterparts.

Having recently landed a gig in PE, I believe that grades, work experience, military experience, bilingualism and extracurriculars all helped, but the fact that I networked my way into going for coffee with three of the directors/VPs individually, is probably what got me the job.

Yeah but almost all top schools are moving towards grade nondisclosure so I'm not really sure what firms are looking at, particularly given that when you start recruiting for summer internships you're only halfway through the first year...

 

Really great post, thanks so much.

If you have a valid reason why your GPA is lower, would you suggest still putting your GPA on your resume or keeping it off? On one hand you keep the bad GPA on there and a screener may not know why, on the other hand if its left off then you are left wondering why

 

Recently had a conversation with a friend who went the bulge bracket -> PE path and he thought I should include feedback from my mid-review (off-cycle internship at bulge bracket) in one bullet. The feedback I got was very good but unfortunately there is no headcount so I won't get an offer.

I personally don't think it's a great idea given that it could come across a bit cocky and I would rather have my MD say it than me.

What is your take on this?

 

Fantastic post, particularly for those about to go through the process soon. Question on the "brand name" professional experience--most sophs, even at a target, (including me) won't have had extensive OCR. Outside of a few lucky/talented/connected ones, I'd venture most worked at boutique/no-name IB/PE/HF/AM soph year. How rigid is the "brand name" experience filter in terms of pushing people toward the no pile, then?

 

Hello, I am European who would like to move to the US to work for a couple of years. I have international experience as I have studied, worked and lived in the UK , France and Ireland. I am 24 yo, female and speak 4 languages and currently work in an American bank in Ireland. What do you think would be my biggest challenge applying in the US? What are my chances in comparison to an American candidate? Obviously the employer would have to sponsor me for a work Visa. Would that put them off?

 

Hello, I am European who would like to move to the US to work for a couple of years. I have international experience as I have studied, worked and lived in the UK , France and Ireland. I am 24 yo, female and speak 4 languages and currently work in an American bank in Ireland. What do you think would be my biggest challenge applying in the US? What are my chances in comparison to an American candidate? Obviously the employer would have to sponsor me for a work Visa. Would that put them off?

 

Dear OP,

On our resume, if we are moving into IB, is it advantageous to have the keyword listed under 'other', and talk about how we are mostly self-taught in the discipline?

Thanks,

 

@"SSits"FYI, a major reason why Asian students put their Asian names is because sometimes their resume/application gets lost in the pile as HR is unable to match official documents (i.e. application requiring Asian name) to the resume (where Asian students would prefer to only put their English names). Just FYI to everyone to help understand others' situations!

You crave what you are not. Dude, your perspective on life sucks.