Get the Job Jan 28 2010

Foot in the Door: The Perfect Risk Management Resume

By alina dizik

In the wake of the financial crisis, finance firms are taking a hard look at their approach to risk management -- and not just financial risk, but enterprise risk. Risk managers need to show hiring managers how their skills can be a fit. Additionally, finance professionals caught up with making risky assumptions during the previous boom, need to demonstrate how they've managed risk throughout their work history and saw a few dark spots before they happened, say experts.

Your resume should delve into areas of finance that you're comfortable with, says Laura Smith-Proulx, a Denver-based executive resume writer. "In the financial services industry, candidates for the position of risk manager are required to show subject matter expertise in asset management, insurance, and within the banking and capital markets." It's also important that your resume demonstrate the relationship between the subject matter and the company's need to mitigate risk in that area, she says.

Here are additional ways to perfect your resume. Check out our before and after sample resumes.

Highlight the Implementation of Your Findings
Since developing the long-lasting guards against potential pitfalls is extremely important to risk managers, make sure the experience section of your resume addresses how your proposals have been implemented. Additionally, share information about how your guidelines were used to help the company succeed. If you've been using ISO 31000 implementation guidelines or other new implementations frameworks, be sure to mention those relevant keywords often.

Demonstrate Long-Term Thinking
As a risk manager, many employers are now focused on how you've previously mitigated risk by managing long-term projects as opposed to focusing on short-term gains, says Leon Savvas, an independent consultant who focuses on energy trading risk management. "Hiring managers are now looking for people that have a broader scope," he says. Convey this in your resume by highlighting how you were involved with bigger projects.

Flaunt Impressive Valuation Work
Deriving knowledge from complicated financial models is an important way to show your expertise. Within your resume "use examples where you have summarized a large amount of data--with several of the variables unknown--and provided recommendations that have resulted in positive outcomes for your company," says Kara Albert, director of career management at Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business, which started a risk management track two years ago.

Focus on Enterprise Risk Management
With many companies now putting an emphasis on ERM, make sure you stress any credential programs or related experience during your last position. Firms looks for "enterprise" experience as a way to make sure that candidates have been involved in strategic planning or allocating capital. Highlighting these keywords can help you get hired. If you don't have ERM experience, take a quick course and add the qualifications on your resume. This can push your resume to the top of the pile when it's scanned by recruiters.

Quantify Results
Numbers on a resume can quickly sum up previous achievements and get the attention of a potential employer. A common mistake is not to translate the amount of money saved or earned as a part of your risk management efforts into a bullet point on your resume, says Smith-Proulx.

Make a Switch With Transferable Skills
With more risk management opportunities available today than in years past, it's possible to make a career switch from another area of finance. In addition to your quantitative knowledge, highlight your decision-making skills during uncertainty or boom times. "Candidates transitioning into risk management from a lending operation…can point to internal risk assessment on a micro scale as an example of their skills," suggests Smith-Proulx. Be sure to avoid sector-specific language when describing previous experience from other finance roles.

Don't Skip the Details
Keep work experience in chronological order and include as many achievements as possible throughout your bullet points. "Make sure to focus less on your job responsibilities and requirements, and instead focus on your accomplishments and your impact on the firm," says Albert. Below the work experience, take a few lines that show interest in risk management including any associations or clubs.

Include a Robust Qualifications Section
Use the qualifications section to show employers that you've kept up with changes in the field and include dates on anything you've completed. Make sure your resume lists recent courses or workshops that you've attended, especially if you are required to keep up with regulatory policy. Write out your experience with software such as @Risk for Excel or your certifications such as the Financial Risk Manager or Risk Management Association Credit Risk Certification, suggests Albert. Including these keywords may help separate your resume from the pack when it is pre-screened electronically. Additionally, demonstrate your interest in the career: "Showing a focus and drive towards risk management can be effectively demonstrated by joining a few networks and working towards a handful of certifications and specializations," says Albert.


As you continue to edit your resume, take the time to evaluate whether it speaks to your most impressive risk-management-related achievements and whether you've demonstrated the necessary finance know-how. As companies become more concerned with mitigating risk, they are looking for well-versed candidates that can cautiously derive conclusions from complicated financial models while continuing to question underlying assumptions.

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