How I pick applicants for interviews: blog post

KevinNYC's picture
Rank: Orangutan | 277

I originally posted this as a blog post, but I am not sure where that goes and how to access it. Apologies for the duplicate)

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

* (insert school mascot) 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?

Comments (13)

Nov 8, 2010

How could you ascertain the details of that guy's situation from just a resume? Was it in his cover letter?

Nov 8, 2010

Kevin, I have similar preferences when it comes to helping to find new coworkers.

That said, I'm not sure the street works that way.

In a trading, research, or risk management interview, the trump card is always quantitative competence followed by coming off as easy to work with finally followed by some sort of work experience. It can be mowing lawns or working at McDonald's- folks just want to see that you can show up on time and understand what your responsibilities are when you are on the clock.

But my take is that in trading, if you can prove you're the best person for the job, it doesn't matter how many or how few uncles you have or how many folks at the bank who want you to get the job. It's in everyone's best interests to get the best person in who is relatively easy to work with.

Incidentally, a large number of people who make it into upper management at banks came from middle-class or working class backgrounds and worked their way through college. Lloyd Blankfein was the son of a Bronx postal worker; Dick Fuld graduated from the University of Colorado.

Nov 8, 2010

story makes no sense.

Nov 8, 2010

story makes no sense.

Where did I loose you out of curiosity?

Nov 8, 2010

cant say i quite agree with the OP on such merits

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Nov 8, 2010

PM sent

Nov 8, 2010

KevinNYC, your prep site places people at "Raymond Jones"? Might want to fix that

Nov 8, 2010

Didn't you hear that Raymond James merged with Edward Jones to form Raymond Jones? ;)

Nov 8, 2010

so if I worked 25-35 hours per week delivering pizzas during my last three years of undergrad you'd give me an interview.

Oddly enough a pizza delivery guy in my old city was shot and killed on the job only a month after I moved away...

-philly g

Nov 8, 2010

I smoke bud and try and get as much puss as I can in my free time...

Nov 8, 2010

i do a lot of coke on campus.

Nov 9, 2010

I love how my resume looks almost exactly like Kevin's example....

Jan 10, 2013