Want to intern at a Wall Street bank? Here’s the first thing they’ll look for on your résumé

Wall Street internships are insanely competitive.

Last summer, Goldman Sachs had 59,000 applicants for roughly 2,900 intern positions.

So if you’re going to drop your resume in a stack with thousands of others, you want it to look good.

We spoke with a former analyst at a bulge-bracket bank who’s been through the process both as an applicant and, on the other side, as an analyst screening candidates.

He said there were only a few things the banks really look at on your résumé – and it’s important to get them right.

Here’s what you need to know.

See more on Wall Street recruiting, junior bankers, and breaking into finance here.


The most important thing on your résumé is your GPA.

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Steven Yeh/Flickr

Your grade point average is “the first thing you look at on the résumé,” the former analyst said. And it should be 3.6, preferable 3.7 or higher.

If it isn’t quite as impressive as you’d like, there is a workaround: “Show it to 2 decimals if the decimal is under 5,” the person said. “But if the second decimal of the GPA is over 5, round to the nearest 10th.”

So if your GPA is 3.83, don’t round down. But if it’s 3.65 or 3.66, then round up and show it as 3.7.

Also, if you have a good GPA in your major, you can include that too – but there is no substitute for the overall GPA, the analyst said.


The next most important thing? Experience.

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REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

If you’re a college junior applying for a summer internship, it’s really important that you have some relevant experience from your previous summer.

The analyst said that even though sophomore-year internships were usually “soft” internships, the point is that you have something finance- or business-related on there.


Learn how to write about experience.

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Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Don’t just write what you did at your past gig. Point to the impact your work had.

The analyst gave an example of a weak experience line: “Used DCF, comparable companies, and precedent transactions to value Coca Cola.”

Versus a strong one: “Used DCF, comparable companies, and precedent transactions to value Coca Cola; analysis showed that the company was undervalued by 15%.”

But don’t exaggerate! “It’s so obvious to tell if someone is exaggerating,” the former analyst said.


Delete any non-finance-related work experience.

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REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

“Even if it’s just one line, it’s totally irrelevant,” our source said.

That’s why it’s so important to get your first finance-related gig in during the summer after your sophomore year.

“Frankly, I mean, if you were a lifeguard between sophomore and junior year, I don’t know that you have a very good chance in banking recruiting,” he said.

The other thing you can do, if your experience section is looking thin, is include any business-related clubs or school activities you’re involved with.

“Pretty much every target school for banking recruiting has some sort of mock-investment banking club” or finance club, the former analyst said. “This is all quality stuff that you can put in as experience – just drop it down below your most recent internship.”


Don’t waste everyone’s time with “soft skills.”

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Wikimedia Commons

Next is the “Skills” section of your resume. There are only two types of relevant skills for banking: technical skills and language skills.

Technical skills might include knowing how to use Capital IQ, the Bloomberg terminal, FactSet, SNL Financial, and Excel.

Language skills should be rated on a scale (e.g., Fluent, Professional, or Conversational).

Anything else – like “hard worker” or “team player” – is irrelevant.


One of the most important lines on your résumé: Interests.

This might be the last line on your résumé, but it’s one of the most important ones.

“That’s really your opportunity to let your personality come through in the interviews,” the former analyst said. “In the phone screens that I would do, that’s a lot of what we talked about.”

He recommended including three or four specific interests – nothing related to finance.

And mix them up. “The interests can’t be like Sacramento Kings, Green Bay Packers, and then like Boston Bruins,” the person said. Just pick one sports interest.


To sum up …

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.A.A. via Flickr

There’s a simple formula bankers follow when they’re scanning through stacks and stacks of résumés.

“The screen is: No. 1 GPA, No. 2 relevant experience, No. 3 you look at the interests line,” the former analyst said.

“That’s how we whittled it down.”


Lastly, check out the template résumés on Mergers & Inquisitions.

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Mergers & Inquisitions

Our source highly recommended the website Mergers & Inquisitions, which as an interview prep guide and résumé template, seen here. He said there was no reason to get clever with your résumé – just follow this basic, proven template.