ANSWERED: Most Common Resume Questions
Having helped hundreds of monkeys fix up their resumes, I've found that a few questions come up again and again. These questions account for over 90% of the major mistakes people make on their resume. While these topics are geared towards newer monkeys, if people one day start fixing these errors, I might just share with you my expert advice ;)
A lot of the confusion regarding resumes exists because Wall Street has its own list of unwritten rules you must follow in the form of resume etiquette. Essentially, this list is another barrier to entry to weed out people that haven't learned enough about the industry to be aware of them. All of these rules exist for a reason and can largely be attributed to the fact that HR / recruiting team wants to be able to skim through resumes as quickly and uniformly as possible and during that time they want to be able to gain an objective idea of your experience and background. Essentially, they only want RELEVANT information and they want it to be presented as CONCISELY and UNIFORMLY as possible.
1. Does my resume have to be one page long?
With almost no exceptions, your resume should be one page long. I know that you are a star athlete in seven sports and a genius and won every award in the world and founded a billion-dollar business in high school, but you still need to condense your resume down to the information most relevant to the job you are applying for and fit it onto one page. The only real exceptions for this are candidates who have very extensive AND relevant careers. For example, many Directors or MDs will have multi-page resumes because a lot of space is required to highlight the larger transactions they've been involved with or their many responsibilities across different roles.
To simplify the above, I've prepared a simple logic sequence. Are you a BSD? No => your resume should be one page. Yes => your resume should be more than one page.
2. What order should the sections on my resume be in?
As a general rule, the most relevant sections should come first and the items within those sections should be in chronological order with items you are currently participating in coming first.
To simplify... If you are in school, education should come first. If you are done with school and are working, your work experience should come first. Interests / skills / certifications should come last.
3. Should I include a mission statement / objective / summary / yada yada yada?
No. Absolutely not. Please stop arguing with me. While these are very common in the more artistic fields, it is not appropriate for a Wall Street resume. These statements tend to be very subjective and full of fluff. All the person reading your resume wants to read is relevant objective skills / experience. They don't want to read four sentences about why you think your "synergies" align with the industry and how your supposed "attention to detail" is exactly what the firm is looking for while you "build a strong foundation as you break into the industry". All subjective fluff, keep it off.
4. Should I include this one high school experience / award / scholarship / job / extracurricular?
When deciding whether to include an item or a bullet point, you must always ask yourself the question: "is this directly relevant to the job I am applying for / demonstrate skills they are looking for?" If the answer isn't a clear yes, keep it off. So many people have cool or interesting accomplishments that aren't relevant, but are too stubborn to exclude them. Remember, being concise and relevant is super important to someone skimming your resume. So you might have won some huge case study or some awesome scholarship or are a renowned painter or help feed the hungry, but only include it if you can demonstrate skills used that relate to the job. High school experience is with almost no exceptions not relevant and should be excluded since it wasn't recent (if you developed an algorithm that at age 17 that crushed the markets and made you $200k and ignited your passion for, please include).
5. Should I include this detail / that detail / some other detail / my love for bananas?
Similar to the above - don't include details if they don't highlight relevant skills. Learning about marketing and corporate social responsibility as a side project during your S&T internship is probably NOT a relevant detail that you should include. Talking about how you assisted traders and learned how to make decisive decisions in a trading floor atmosphere IS relevant. Do include your love for bananas.
6. Why did I get dinged the second someone opened up my cover letter?
Your cover letter was WAYYYYYY too long. Don't write me an essay or a fluffy love letter about how you will work 200 hours a week for this job. I want to be able to skim this super quick and get an idea of who you are and what makes you a good choice.
Intro: 2-3 sentences about what job you are applying for and how you heard about it
Skill 1: 2-3 sentences about how Skill 1 makes you qualified.
Skill 2: 2-3 sentences about how Skill 2 makes you qualified.
Skill 3: 2-3 sentences abut how Skill 3 makes you qualified.
Conclusion: For the reasons listed above, you think you are qualified and are appreciative of their consideration.
Happy to hear your thoughts / feedback. Any experienced monkeys agree / disagree?