The Best Resume and Cover Letter Posts on WSO

My whiz kid content intern @"Lucas_M" is at it again; he compiled a list of the top ranked Resume and CL posts on WSO. Enjoy! Are you in search of some resume and/or cover letter help? Check out WSO's 1-on-1 Resume Service.

1. UG Recruiting Part I: How a resume becomes an interview
posted by @Marcus_Halberstram

It helps but is not a guarantee if you have a high GPA (ie. 3.4 and above). Next, you SHOULD address the question of "is he/she interested in banking?". If you've never interned in finance and are a non-traditional major, you should be actively involved (preferably at a senior level) in finance clubs, participate in finance/modeling training seminars sponsored by your school, or have a section under interests with "Readings" or "Favorite Books" that have a finance tinge to them: more When Genius Failed or Fooled by Randomness or Barbarians at the Gate, Wall Street Journal, DealBook, FT; less Monkey Business or Liars Poker, etc. I wouldn't advise adding that section if the rest of your resume already sells your finance interest, otherwise its overkill and you seem uninteresting and boringly uni-dimensional. You want to be well rounded!

Formatting is EVERYTHING and there is absolutely NO excuse for typos or inconsistencies in formatting. Cover letters, if at all, should be minimalist, the main purpose of a cover letter is to address an obvious shortcoming that is apparent from your resume

- silver bananas: a lot

2.More classics from resumes/cover letters

posted by @"Mis Ind"

Everyone else plays it up, and playing it up is expected. If I was talking to someone formally (in an interview, not as a friend) who admitted that his internship was bullshit, I would wonder if it was even MORE bullshit than mine was, which would be pretty sad.

We expect salesmanship; we expect experiences to be puffed up. If they aren't, you may win the prize for honesty and straight shooting, but that (unfortunately) won't help you compete.

- 319 silver bananas

3.Yet more fun with resumes
posted by @"Mis Ind"

Candidate 4: Diablo 2 -- Self-Run Online Business.

This is exactly the kind of entrepreneurial self-starter we want in our firm. Next.

Candidate 5: "This seems to be an ideal position that will enable me to contribute to your company by utilizing my current skills and experience. I am eager and enthused to be given the opportunity to contribute my diligence and hard work ethic to your company.... My work experience has taught me to work independently as well as exemplifying team work by taking initiative in other aspects of departmental obligations such as administrative support."

My friend, you probably thought that exhausting the thesaurus would make you sound intelligent. Unfortunately, all it did was make you sound like a tool. Also, it doesn't hide the fact that your grammar is disappointing. Next.

- 302 silver bananas

4.Filtering resumes - what I looked for when screening 200+ resumes
posted by @SSits

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.

Skills and Interests

  • 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.

- 17 silver bananas

5.Resume and cover letter - a reviewers perspective
posted by @SSits

On the resume, I mainly look at your coursework (how closely does it relate to technical skills) and interests. If you have any relevant past work experience, I'll spend 5 seconds thinking about that. For example, one resume had experience packing at a UPS store as the oldest work experience. That interested me far more than an internship at some private wealth firm, as (a) logistics is an interesting industry, (b) working in customer service teaches you a lot about human nature and (c) I have contempt for the private wealth business.

I also don't give a crap about any sort of resume-padding activity. President of some finance club or finalist in some competition? Eh, whatever. I assume when you start as an intern or grad, you know nothing other than an aptitute to learn and do grunt work. If you start thinking you actually know something, you're a liability to yourself and others.

- 13 silver bananas

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6.What NOT to put in a Cover Letter/Resume
posted by @SirTradesaLot

"I am an inquisitive mind that loves to use this innate trait towards evaluating the economy, markets, and stocks. Those skills are collecting data, and analyzing the data."

1. Face palm. This is how the cover letter starts. So much is wrong with this, I hope it does not require an explanation.
2. "Computer skills" is mentioned in both the resume and cover letter. In general, if you are listing "computer skills" as one of your strengths, it probably isn't. You should be more specific or focus on something else.
3. "CORE COMPETANCIES" -- Listed as a major category on the resume. If your "computer skills" are so strong, you should probably know how to use spell check.
4. Please do not put "MBA" in your signature (e.g. John Public, MBA)

- 7 silver bananas

7.WSO Investment Banking Resume Template for College Students Released to the Public!
posted by

Insider Trading: Question: "What if I have literally zero work experience, but a bunch of extracurriculars with multiple leadership roles? How would I best represent that on a resume?"

You've never had any job or internship? That's a bit odd unless you are a freshman, but you can just make the leadership section larger and remove the "Work Experience"'ll probably have to increase the font by 1 point and increase the margins a bit, but it could work if you are able to put enough ECs and show a lot of initiative on campus...

That being said, you should also definitely be trying to get an internship if you are in college now and tracking the impact you have during that job so you can have really strong bullets that quantify results.

- 5 silver bananas

8.The One Rule Of Resumes
posted by @"Jared Dillian"

"Less is more." There is no bigger turn-off than trying to read some resume that has .005 inch margins, with 8-point font, going on and on about winning Most Improved in the sophomore intramural racquetball league. Guys. People are realistic. Everyone knows that you're a dweeb out of college and you haven't done anything. And if you have done something interesting, put it down. But be brief about it. Keep it simple, and elegant. Use the full one inch margins. Times New Roman only. It's not a contest to see how much shit you can cram into a single page, like writing up a formula cheat sheet for a math exam.

One more thing. After you've read fifty or a hundred resumes of people from the same schools, taking the same classes, getting the same grades, the first thing you start to do is let your eyes fall to the bottom of the page, where it says "Interests" or "Other." Do you ride a unicycle? Do you write erotic literature? Please, let me just find somebody interesting. I recruited one guy who was the World Memory Champion for being the fastest to memorize a deck of cards. He was in the Guinness Book of World Records. Needless to say, that guy was hired on the spot.

- 5 silver bananas

9.ANSWERED: Most Common Resume Questions
posted by @lbreitst

Your cover letter should never be 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.

- 4 silver bananas

10.WSO Private Equity Resume Template for Professionals with Deal Experience is Released!
posted by

@HFer_wannabe: "Do you guys usually include relevant coursework? Is it worth 2-3 lines of that vs adding more detail about past job specifics?"

If you feel there are 1-2 bullets being left out to make room for that relevant experience, then yes, you can remove some of coursework. However if you decide to include that in and you are a few years out of school, I think that shows you were focused and studied relevant courses (this can especially be useful if the position you are applying to is more related to a course you took vs. your actual professional experience).

I'd still argue that less is more, and unless you can quantify the action and results from your prior experiences, another boring bullet about how you "helped coordinate meetings" is less value-add. These bullets are placeholders and should not be used as good examples since they are just "ok"...ideally you should quantify and show your impact more.

- 1 silver banana

Other tips worth noting
Resume/Cover Letter Writing Advice
posted by @couchy

  • Don't feel the need to fill up the page. Spacing out text will make it easier to read and also easier to scan. Go for the clean and crisp look. This also goes with the first tip, only write what is relevant and of interest to the reader. Extra details must be carefully picked.
  • Give the resume to non bankers to read. If you can catch their interest with it, like compliments on the formatting and concise bullets, you'll catch a bankers attention since the content is even more relevant to a banker.

Writing a cover letter for a no name
posted by @BankonBanking

If you are asking if there are any opportunities available, rather than applying for a specific position, I would advise that you draft a Letter of Inquiry, which is similar to a cover letter. Instead of focusing on a specific position, it focuses on opportunities within a particular firm that, given your background, you would be a great fit with.

In this case you need to do as much research as you can (yes, I know it is often hard to find quality info, even on their sites) - do Google searches and such for any deals, news articles, etc - and then focus your cover letter on the strengths of the firm and the strengths of yourself. Essentially, it should be similar to a cover letter in that you should introduce yourself and touch on your background. Then you need to site specific examples that support yourself as a strong candidate. Finally, you need to express an interest in working for the firm in a specific capacity. Close it with the usual closing phrases, and if they have a phone number, let them know that you will follow up via telephone call at such and such time in the near future.

Mentioning clients in resume?
posted by @inikad

Only mention clients if it can be known from public information that said companies subscribed to your services. For example in a m&a deal, it is public knowledge who the bankers were, so feel free to show off. If there were any confidentiality clauses in the client-vendor contracts (common for consultants and research companies), definitely no. Breaking this looks very very unprofessional.

To stay safe: assume confidentiality. indicate vaguely if you want, e.g. industry and size of clients.

GMAT Score on Resume?
posted by @patekphilippe

I would stray away from putting the GMAT on your resume unless you are applying to top investment banks, consulting firms, etc. where they expect you to leave after 2-3 years. Even with them, I would use discretion.

If you put the GMAT on your resume at other companies, they may be looking for a longer-term hire and they will think that you have your eyes sight on B-School and could leave within a year or two. Offer up your SAT instead. Most people I know do not put their GMAT on their resume before B-School (signals that you might leave) OR after B-School (signals that you're a huge nerd and don't have substantial work experience). They only put it on their resume for the 2 years that they are in B-School.

What's the best font for a resume?

Font selection certainly won't make or break your resume (unless you use something silly like Comic Sans), but a nice font can certainly help your resume look clean and professional. First and foremost, you've got to make sure that your resume has a clean overall format with enough spacing between sections so the reviewer doesn't have to strain to read each line. Your resume should look like a professional document, not simply a piece of paper that has been stuffed with as much content as humanly possible. Form, in some sense, serves a true function here. Especially in the world of banking, where you'll be relentlessly pumping out highly word-smithed, highly formatted documents and PowerPoints.

Now, in terms of choosing your font, there is some level of leeway here. As I said earlier, unless you choose a silly font (i.e. Comic Sans), you'll never be dinged for font selection. However, if you choose a handsome font, you might get lucky and have a design-nerd reviewing your resume. Assuming everything else checks out in terms of your background, education, and experience, a nice font certainly can't hurt.

Personally, I use Book Antiqua. Its a clean font with understated serifs that's easy on the eyes. And, frankly, I haven't come across a ton of resumes that use it, so I feel it does add a bit of a personal touch.

Other fonts that work nicely include Helvetica (a personal fave, and a much more important font than most realize), Arial (Microsoft's Helvetica knockoff), Calibri, and Cambria. There's also nothing wrong with Times New Roman, in my opinion, though it's not a personal favorite of mine.

Lastly, regardless of which font you use, make sure you size it appropriately. The smallest font I use in the body of my resume is 9-point. I'd be hard-pressed to go smaller than that, and I only feel confident doing so because I've spaced each section appropriately without making the resume feel over-stuffed.

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