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

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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-reviewers-perspective).

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.

Comments (164)

 
Dec 30, 2014 - 4:33pm

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.
 
Jan 12, 2015 - 7:13pm

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.

 
Jul 23, 2015 - 10:51am

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
 
Dec 30, 2014 - 4:55pm

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.

 
Dec 30, 2014 - 5:28pm

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.
 
Dec 30, 2014 - 4:59pm

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

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?

 
Dec 30, 2014 - 5:09pm

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.
 
Dec 31, 2014 - 12:37pm

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.

 
Dec 30, 2014 - 8:04pm

wow what a post, THANK YOU! Frontpage all day tomorrow

and haha great to hear the wso internship put someone from "no" to "maybe" :-)

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

 
Best Response
Dec 30, 2014 - 9:36pm

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.
 
Dec 30, 2014 - 9:39pm

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?

Array
 
Dec 30, 2014 - 10:14pm

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.
 
Dec 30, 2014 - 10:35pm

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.

Array
 
Dec 31, 2014 - 2:47am

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".

 
Dec 31, 2014 - 4:10am

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!

 
Dec 31, 2014 - 9:21am

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.
 
Dec 31, 2014 - 1:21pm

@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
 
Dec 31, 2014 - 2:42pm

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.
 
Jan 1, 2015 - 12:43am

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 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

 
Jan 1, 2015 - 1:32am

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.
 
Jan 4, 2015 - 4:09am

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 psychiatrist (med school =P) Previously: investor relations (top consulting firm), M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM)
 
Dec 31, 2014 - 1:19pm

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!

 
Dec 31, 2014 - 1:27pm

@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
 
Dec 31, 2014 - 1:53pm

@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
 
Dec 31, 2014 - 6:56pm

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-et-11215

 
Dec 31, 2014 - 7:43pm

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.
 
Dec 31, 2014 - 11:30pm

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.

 
Jan 5, 2015 - 5:26am

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

 
Jan 1, 2015 - 5:20pm

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
 
Jan 1, 2015 - 9:04pm

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...

 
Jan 1, 2015 - 10:56am

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

 
Jan 1, 2015 - 11:51am

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?

 
Jan 1, 2015 - 12:09pm

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?

 
Jan 1, 2015 - 4:24pm

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?

 
Jan 1, 2015 - 4:24pm

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?

 
Jan 2, 2015 - 1:29pm

@"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.
 
Jan 2, 2015 - 3:10pm

You are mean, but I appreciate that.
Thank you very much for being so harsh but truthful, happy new year.

Memory since 1999.
 
Jan 3, 2015 - 10:23am

I knew that your nickname ring a bell, and I remembered that it was from that "Why UBS?" topic, I must say thanks for this and that (it helped me get to AC ~2days after phone interview which I had to miss later on due to not having UK Visa at that moment because they took more than standard amount of time to process my request, which was approved few days later).

Anyway, back on-topic, thanks for this! Posts like yours make this site valuable place for bankers wannabes like me.

 
Jan 14, 2015 - 9:57pm

Unless you have useful metrics I would probably suggest against it. Yearly revenues of x and sold it for y would be good depending on where you're applying. A successful current venture could be tough as where will you find the time / focus to both, particularly if your business is lucrative for you.

 
Jan 10, 2015 - 2:31pm

Could any provide some insight on how the "Elite Boutiques" screen resumes? I've heard it's much more focused on GPA over work experience.

Also, when you do your group selection day (after accepting offers), do they review resumes and care about GPA for that process too?

 
Jan 11, 2015 - 3:31pm

First of all, great post, extremely helpful!

I have a question specifically related to my resume: under "interests" all the way at the bottom of the resume I put "meeting new people" as one my interests. The other interests that I listed are all very plain/vanilla interests that won't be looked down on (ie. chess, golf, etc)

This is the only unorthodox part of my resume and comes on the back of solid internship experience and good GPA/extracurriculars.

This genuinely is an interest of mine and is meant to convey that I am outgoing and well-travelled. Is it too corny though? Can it come off as too try-hard and lead to rejections for interviews?

 
Jan 11, 2015 - 8:15pm

@simplechimp - didn't that Alexei V guy do a video resume? I would only watch one to laugh at it.

@fortheppl - I've seen that before, as well as "eating new foods". It doesn't rock my world, but I understand what people are trying to say and fine to include it. Most times, interests are pretty vanilla

Those who can, do. Those who can't, post threads about how to do it on WSO.
 
Jan 14, 2015 - 9:43pm

I just completed our OCR and I can 100% corroborate all of this. I got tricked once with "GS - Mumbai" where I gave someone a first round and it will not happen again. Also, ladies, a good linkedin pic never hurts. Nothing stupid or glamorous but as I'm sure you're aware, most of the people screening your application will be bored males on many banks are focused diversifying the candidate pool.

 
Jul 23, 2015 - 11:57am

Thank you for your post. On the topic of "ethnic" names - what's your take on eastern European ones? I have two surnames, both eastern European, but one sounds more "ethnic" than the other. My mom always tells me I should drop the more "ethnic" one so I don't face any bias (especially considering that immigrants from our country don't have the best reputation) but I like it; I think it gives me some edge. I'd be interested to hear what people think.

P.S. My entire education has been in English, so that's not an issue.

 
Jul 28, 2015 - 11:54am

I feel like the majority of name discrimination is going to be targeted at non-white names, but you could face a bit depending on whether the recruiter is a xenophobe, my grandma, etc. Also, if you're in a certain city where there are a lot of people of your ethnic group, you'll probably have fewer issues. E.g. if you're in Chicago and your name is Polish, you're fine or will get bonus points from a Polish resume screener.

Per above, communicate you can speak English. The vast majority of hirers want the best candidate regardless of background, because in the end, it's all about who can make money. That's the beauty of capitalism in a diverse society. Sheds single tear as eagle flies above and caws loudly

Make Idaho a Semi-Target Again 2016 Not an alumnus of Idaho
 
Jul 29, 2015 - 4:01pm

who does initial resume screen? (Originally Posted: 09/27/2011)

who reviews the resumes / applications that are submitted first? does HR look at them or do the bankers? is it different for regional IBD and headquarters because more people apply to the headquarters? thanks!

 
Jul 29, 2015 - 4:05pm

How I pick applicants for interviews: resume screening within an investment bank (Originally Posted: 12/28/2012)

Moderator Note (Andy): Best of WSO - this post originally went up November 2010 and we thought it deserved to go back on the homepage for those who may have never seen it.

Autumn. The time of year for football, crisp air, and the resume book. What's a resume book you might ask? Each fall, HR departments across Wall Street print every serious resume they receive for analyst positions and put them into a giant 3-ring Binder. I have seen all sizes of binders over the years, ranging from a small, crisp stack of maybe 20 resumes to a monstrous, 5-inch thick beast. The "book" is then distributed to each group who is looking for analysts. Most people have no time or interest in participating in the process, but everyone enjoys participating in the games: Which rez is the best/worst? Which has the most outrageous claims? Who has the hottest Facebook picture? Who is the son or daughter of a politician/baller/C-level exec? And so on… After fun-time, we get down to business. I would say 90% of the resumes in the Binder read something like this:
• University of Top 15-ville. 3.3-3.8 GPA with a major in Economics/Accounting/Finance/Underwater basket weaving. Minor in something useless.

• Tappa Tappa Kegga Business Fraternity – Vice President

• Investment Club – Personally managing $100k of the university's endowment!!!!!!!!

• Some BS charity group – Philanthropy (2010) and Social Chair (2009)

• Interests: Poker, big M&A deals, golf, personal investing, and Avant-Garde film

Now, my goal here is not to come across as elitist or cynical, but rather provide some provide some insight into how I select interview applicants from the Binder. I look for the individuals that are doing something "above and beyond" the obligatory bullet points above. Show me action:

I am always impressed when I see individuals who are working a job while in school. It says a lot about their work ethic, hunger, and usually means that they will do a good job with banking work that is really not that glamorous. Do you get up on Sunday morning and go to a work-study job at the library? Do you deliver pizzas to the frat quad? While this may seem useless from an experience standpoint, it's telling me a lot about your character. Put it on your resume.

I understand that many individuals are fortunate enough to not have to work for pocket money and I certainly don't hold that against you but it makes me wonder, what are you doing with your time? There is a ton of free time in college and unless you have a 4.0, you can't use "studying" as an excuse. The individuals who really stand out are the ones who use their free time constructively whether that entails working for pocket change, doing un-paid internships, or collaborating on start-ups.

Here's a great example. I recently came across a generally lack-luster resume from an education and experience stand point and very much in-line with the bullet points above except for one line item. He organized his class schedule and, frankly, his lifestyle to be an un-paid intern, working Thursdays and Fridays at a small mutual fund company (not glamorous by any means!). His responsibilities include organizing research reports on Sharepoint, proof-reading documents, and helping clean-up powerpoint presentations. While his official responsibilities don't exactly blow you away, he says he loves the access to the content, being around the market, and having the opportunity to dial into earnings calls. He goes to school about 2 hours outside of NYC (where the mutual is located) and while his friends go to the bars on Thursday night, he stays in because he has to get on the 5:30AM train to be in the office by 8AM. Sold.

All else equal, who would you pick?

(c) www.WallStInsiders.com

 
Jul 29, 2015 - 4:09pm

KevinNYC:
I understand that many individuals are fortunate enough to not have to work for pocket money and I certainly don't hold that against you but it makes me wonder, what are you doing with your time?

We are living a balanced life and filling our time with non-business activities. Certain networking opportunities I've had would have been very awkward had I not watched the football game the previous Sunday...

KevinNYC:
while his friends go to the bars on Thursday night, he stays in because he has to get on the 5:30AM train to be in the office by 8AM. Sold. All else equal, who would you pick?

Because we're spending so much time together, maybe the guy I can grab a brew with.

 
Jul 29, 2015 - 4:13pm

Is this what investment banks look for in resume? (Originally Posted: 08/29/2012)

Hello WSO

Im a rising senior attending semi-target. I know I do not have any banking experience and lacks high gpa, but I tried to make it as interesting as possible. I wonder this resume will get picked up by any banks at all. Also, if I end up not getting any interviews, what area/level of finance should I look for? BO? F500?

Thank you guys.

http://www.razume.com/documents/27260

 
Jul 29, 2015 - 4:16pm

Network. Forget the GPA. If you have a major GPA that is higher, use that. If not, leave it.
I summered at a BB (with a return offer) on a 3.1.

And surprisingly enough, the bank I'm at is the only one I did not network with.

It's doable, but will be difficult. Don't let any nay-sayers tell you otherwise.

 
Jul 29, 2015 - 4:30pm

the first thing you need to understand is every action has consequences. you are no longer a child and need to make your own decisions rather than coming onto an internet forum asking what you should do. some may have good intentions but no 1 on here has your best interest at heart except for you.

if you are 100% sure of your resume, you should leave it as is and not listen to anyone on here. you know yourself and your experiences the best. but if you leave it, remember, you need to be prepared.

second is while some people on here are very knowledgeable with great advice, no 1 is able and can hold your hand and guide you like your parents did growing up. i never mentioned anything about you not able to getting into bbs, mms, or ocr interviews, so hold your head up high.

in my experience, i been told "no, you can't break in with your profile" many times and now, i can tell the nay sayers thanks, but no thanks, you're wrong.

and remember, you dont need to answer to anyone on the forum. you only answer to yourself. something to think about as well when people tear apart your resume. in the end, no one knows you better than you.

 
Jul 29, 2015 - 4:36pm

Typically:
Analysts - pre-screen by HR then Analysts 2/3 and/or Associates 0/1/2 (ideally alumni)
Associates - Associates 2/3 + VPs (MBA - typically alumni of that school)
Shortlist finalised by more senior banker (e.g. banker heading that particular school's recruitment team)
If you have done some decent networking, your name will be marked as referral or HR might also indicate high potential candidates based on their pre-screening

 
Jul 29, 2015 - 4:37pm

Yeah, it differs everywhere.

You can always assume that a woman in HR is going to have the first look at it. But they really have no say beyond pass if it looks decent, toss if its complete shit. Bankers have all of the say after that.

I have seen it done where the analysts to a lot of the first level screening or where the analysts do nothing and the associates do all of the first level screening. Either way, final interview lists are usually created by senior bankers.

Have some mark your resume as a referral can be a huge bonus at all levels though.

 
Jul 29, 2015 - 4:40pm

it's not a super sweet task that everyone wants to do... your staffer comes to you while you're already swamped with work and says "hey champ, can you pick out 10-20 good ones out of this stack" when you likely aren't even hiring anyone who didn't intern... so we look for top schools/gpas, then a name that we recognize from their experience section, and that will usually cut the list in half if not more... from there i look for shit i find interesting in their interest section... it isn't a super exciting task and it usually is given to whomever has capacity at the time, much like interviewing candidates sadly...

 
Jul 29, 2015 - 4:50pm

Relevant internships and experiences.

It's important to understand the mindset of resume screeners. They're looking for the lowest risk candidates possible. That means people who won't waste the banks' time. Who will interview well, get the offer, do a good job, and get then ACCEPT the offer. Anything on your resume that speaks to your understanding exactly what the role is, that you can do it well and not complain, so that there aren't any hitches or surprises on either side, will help you to be selected.

 
Jul 29, 2015 - 5:00pm

What do the banks look for when reading resume? (Originally Posted: 06/18/2014)

Hey guys,

I am a non-target school student with a major in Economics with minor in Mathematics(rising junior). My school sends like 10 kids each year to Wall Street. Some of the Bulge Bracket banks come to our campus for interviews as well.

I was wondering what qualifications they look for when reading my resume. I personally have no leadership experiences... which sucks.. I also failed in getting an internship in finance this summer. Instead, I started working at a commercial real estate company.

How should I make my resume so that I can at least have an interview offer? For example, according to the Barclays website, the bank's core values are respect, integrity, service, exllence, and stewardship. Should I emphasize those qualities through my experiences on my resume?

Thank you very much!

Sincerely,
Barclays wannabe

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