Career Advice Feb 16 2012

The Perfect Corporate Finance Resume

By alina dizik

As investment-banking refugees look to the stability of corporate finance, landing a corporate or commercial banking position is becoming more competitive.

Getting past the hiring gatekeeper now requires a resume that's not entirely focused on finance. Experts suggest highlighting the interpersonal skills needed for client-facing roles while demonstrating a real understanding of new regulatory policy and possessing stellar management skills.

It's all about creating a document you're proud to circulate among employers -- don't rely solely on your reputation or what hiring managers already know about your experience, says Steven Provenzano, president of the Certified Professional Resume Writers association and author of "Top Secret: Executive Resumes." Crafting a resume that speaks to specific interests, talents and achievements makes it easier to break in, he says. "Many in banking and finance still think it's okay to send a dry list of jobs," he says.

Show Off Broader Business Experience

Especially if you're applying for a management role, make sure your resume speaks to a wide variety of job functions. "Experience in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, industry regulation, sales and new business development have all become important components of a corporate banking resume," says Lawrence Gorski, senior vice president of human resources at F.N.B. Corporation, a Hermitage, Penn.-based commercial and retail banking institution.

Don't Get Bogged Down by Details

"Most often, job seekers who are involved in a detail-focused field neglect to include the impact of their work from a whole company perspective, rather than merely at the department or team level," explains Laura Smith-Proulx, founder of Denver-based resume writing firm, An Expert Resume.

Craft each bullet point in your resume to include your impact on the company. "Strategic relationships of long-term influence, high-profile projects that help the bank cut operational costs, or initiatives that have been announced to company outsiders are all situations that require explanation," says Smith-Proulx. For example, not only should you list your ability to build long-term ties with a key bank client, but explain how it ultimately impacted the business.

Emphasize Compliance Knowledge

Keeping up with changing regulatory policies for banks serving corporations, small businesses or mid-market companies has become more important since the financial crisis. Recruiters are looking for candidates who have compliance knowledge – both domestic and international – and can play by the new rules. "Consumer protection laws, mortgage lending, fraud detection, and regulatory reporting all require specialized, up-to-date compliance expertise that can be emphasized in a banking resume," says Smith-Proulx. Under an education section, mention any applicable training sessions or certifications.

Size Up Your Value

Rather than simply listing your experience, make sure some of your bullet points illustrate your value to the company. In the experience section, use metrics such as dollars saved or earned or percent by which you've increased annual business to show how you contributed to the success of the bank's bottom line.

Since these statistics aren't readily available, be creative in how you come up with your value to the company and make realistic guesstimates. There's not one right way to size up your value as an employee, adds Smith-Proulx. For example, "a banking relationship manager will need to demonstrate solid account-servicing skills, while noting how this delivered value back to the bank in the form of increased revenue," she says.

Stress Soft Skills

Interpersonal skills are a must for managing corporate clients, but are often difficult to convey in a written document. To demonstrate your competency, use the interests or activities section at the bottom of your resume; volunteer work such as being on the board of a nonprofit can go a long way in demonstrating you're a well-rounded candidate. "Virtually every position requires human interaction with various constituencies including co-workers, supervisors, executives, customers and members of the community," says Gorski.

Spotlight Good Leadership

Hiring managers are looking for problem solvers who can lead projects, cut costs and manage high-profile relationships – not just someone who can follow directions. Include specific examples of leadership "related to directing audits, establishing accounting systems and/or procedures, fiscal management, cost analysis and reduction, [profit and loss] management, budget and capital management, [mergers and acquisitions] knowledge, business valuations, documentation, reporting [and] compliance," says Provenzano.

Highlight Innovative Solutions

Despite being an afterthought for many finance professionals, banking institutions are increasingly focused on employees who can help reinvent stale concepts and policies. Be sure to mention any new product or service development experience, says resume writer Wendy Enelow, founder of the Career Thought Leaders Consortium, a think tank for the career industry based in Coleman Falls, Virginia.

"As the banking environment has become more and more competitive, there's been a great deal of focus on creating new products and services that will attract new customers, retain existing customers, and give a banking institution a measurable advantage in the marketplace," says Enelow who also coaches executives.

Get Tech Savvy

Technology skills can fall to the wayside in a relationships-based corporate banking job, but they are becoming more important than ever. Most hiring managers are quick to scan your resume for signs of competency. Whether it's sourcing data from an Oracle database or understanding IT security, "adding these types of solutions to your resume can help separate you from others who are unsure how technology fits into their role," says Smith-Proulx who works with finance, technology and operations clients.

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As you edit your resume, keep it simple – recruiters can easily detect when you're overstating your accomplishments. "A resume should not exceed two pages in length, and it should be accompanied by a succinct cover letter. Avoid unusual fonts and graphics," suggests Gorenski. And most employers assume you'll provide references, so there's no need for a references-upon-request statement.

Write to Alina Dizik at alinadizik@gmail.com




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