1. Leaving out important information
Many candidates assume that employers will read their CV in conjunction with their cover letter, and hence leave out important information (e.g. education background) in their cover letter. This is a red flag because employers may actually choose to stop reading after the first glance of your cover letter.
Secondly, it is always beneficial to repeat your key achievements (albeit succinctly). The reader is first introduced to your key achievements and skill-sets in your cover letter, and this is fleshed out in your resume later. This creates a multiplicity effect to boost your chances of key points being remembered by your potential employer.
2. Wasting prime real estate with headers
It is increasingly popular for applicants to have fanciful cover letters with stylized headers and footers. While it is always a bonus for your application to stand-out, content should not be sacrificed in favour of presentation. When in doubt, reduce unnecessary information in your headers (e.g. addresses of companies) in favour of more substantive points in the main body of your cover letter.
Information that matter include:
(1) Company name;
(2) Your contact details (1 email, 1 phone number); and
(3) What position you are applying for and entry date.
3. Too lengthy
An extremely common pitfall that befalls applicants is an overly-lengthy resume. We recommend a CV that is at most 2 pages (for IBD, industry practice is 1 page). Being able to sell yourself in a concise and effective fashion is a key skill-set for any aspiring banker and consultant. Demonstrate this in your resume.
Generally, pre-university experience holds lesser weight in employers’ decision-making process. Candidates may include stellar A level grades and notable awards/achievements, but we would recommend keeping this section as abbreviated as possible.
4. Lack of Specificity in Work Experience
Maximize each and every point in your resume. As stated above, eliminate all unnecessary and/or filler points. Instead, provide specific examples to showcase what exactly you did during your internships, the skill-sets that are demonstrable from this experience, what you did to win this case competition etc.
Think long and hard before you craft each experience point. Some thinking points to help you craft your resume for maximum impact are as follows:
5. Not preparing ahead of time
Another key mistake that many applicants make is not preparing for the interview at an early stage. HR schedules interviews very close to the date that they contact you, and this phone call / email can sometimes come out of the blue. To avoid scrambling at the last minute, you should generally be prepared ahead of time. Practice commonly asked questions during banking / consulting interviews, and keep yourself continually updated on current industry and market trends.
Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any queries on how to break into the ultra-competitive fields of IBD and management consulting.