Looking to write your own equity research resume but don’t know where to start? This guide’s got you covered with everything you need, from the criteria, to detailed explanation into each part.
In equity research recruitment, resume screeners generally look for three qualities:
- A history of academic excellence: school prestige, GPA, and honors & awards
- A proven interest in finance: school major, courses, certifications, and extracurriculars
- Relevant work experience: Finance internships, full-time jobs, other related careers: consulting and accounting.
1.1. History of academic excellence
Bankers usually associate “academic excellence” with the school you attended, your GPA, honors & awards. A combination of all those factors will most likely help you pass the screening round. Remember that they don’t know you. They only have a small sheet of paper to decide who passes and who fails, so the first thing they will look at is your academic performance.
One factor banks take very seriously is school prestige. The sad reality is that students coming from target schools stand a much better chance to pass the resume round than those from non-targets, even though the non-targets can be just as good, or even better than the target schools. This is because firms hire most of their employees through on-campus recruitment at target schools, and significantly fewer positions are reserved for others.
So between someone who majored in finance from a non-target and someone who studied social sciences in Harvard, the Harvard guy still has a better chance of getting an interview (and Harvard doesn’t even have a finance major for undergraduates)! Prestige matters a lot for bankers, and it’s hard to move away from that.
But coming from a not-target doesn’t mean you can’t get into banking. It just means you have to work harder than the target students. Highlight your strengths to make up for the lack of school prestige, and network hard with bankers to push your resume.
Academic performance is another decisive factor. Some say the score isn’t everything, but banks pay a lot of attention to GPA. It’s not that GPA determines your level of intellectual capacity, it’s just that banks see it as a reflection of hard work, dedication and ethics. They want people they can rely on, and GPA, to some extent, reveals that. In the US, the minimum “safe” GPA should be 3.6/4.0. In the UK, a second-class honor (average overall score of 60-70%) is a must, but preferably aim for first-class (average overall score of over 70%).
But what if you have neither the school name or the GPA? Make up for that with other good qualities:
- List the classes that you scored A (in the US) or first-grade (over 70% in the UK), especially those related to finance
- List the scholarships you got
- List the awards & honors you received
The important thing is to try to make a lasting impression with what you have. Make bankers remember that you scored well on things that matter, to make up for things that kill your chances.
1.2. Interest in finance
Bankers look for candidates with a proven interest in finance to guarantee that they know what they are doing, what they are getting themselves into, and they will dedicate everything they have to the industry.
Some ways to show your interest in finance are:
- You’ve received financial certifications: The concrete evidence of interest in finance is a finance certifications/credentials. The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Chartered Market Technician (CMT) or Financial Risk Manager (FRM) are some of the most prestigious certifications for equity research. However, all of them are extremely difficult and expensive, so be well-prepared before taking on the tests.
- You’ve taken finance courses: You attended multiple finance classes in college, related coursework like modeling, valuation, accounting. You can put this in the Education section of your resume
- You’ve traded stocks: Nothing proves you are fit for equity research more than researching and investing in equity yourself. Put this in the Additional section of your resume.
- You’ve participated in finance competitions: Finance competitions like the CFA Institute Research Challenge are great add-ons, especially if you came from a non-finance background.
- You’ve participated in finance student societies: Other than adding credentials to your interests, joining student societies like banking clubs, student-run funds can be really helpful, since you can learn to pitch stocks, perform investment analysis and network all in one!
1.3. Relevant work experience
Bankers look for candidates with finance-related experience, especially in equity research. They want those who know what they will be doing on the job, are aware of the challenges, and are willing to face them.
If you don’t have any relatable work experience, use extra-curriculars like investment societies, or experience as a trader/investor. You can also spin other experiences to make it sound like “equity research”.
For example, if you trade stocks, say that you have researched and analyzed 30 companies and screened out 6 best possible companies to invest in, and have accumulated 30% gain in 5 months. Make trading a kind of work you do. Recruiters will like it.
Or if you have done some other jobs, try to make it sound like “researching”, because in the end, “equity research” is all about research and analysis.
But if you worked in marketing, and are looking to move to equity research, spin it in a way that it sounds “finance” and “research”. You can say that you have done market research on customer behavior and launched a successful campaign that attracted 50% more customers for the company. The key is to be analytical and result-driven.
2. Format of an Equity Research Resume
Format is important because it is the initial impression of you to the recruiters, and a bad initial impression is never okay. Make sure that your format is on point before sending your resume. The key attributes for a good format are length, margin, font, and file format.
Length: should fit in
Two-page resumes are usually disqualified right away, or only the first page is reviewed. Remember that bankers have thousands of resumes to screen, and they won’t bother spending a few minutes going through all your work experience, hobbies and interests. Keep it concise with only the most essential information. A half-page resume is just as bad as a two-page resume. Bankers may see this as being “mediocre”, having nothing to prove that you have what it takes to be in the industry. If this happens, list out more relevant experience, awards, honors, etc.
Margin: should be
1 inch on all sides
You can change the margin slightly to accommodate more information, but avoid changing it to half inch. This makes your resume look overloaded and discouraging to read.
Font: use serif fonts
Preferably Times New Roman. They are a staple in professional writing, clean and easy to read. Do not use fun fonts to impress recruiters, they will not appreciate it. Size should be 10-11. You can go for a bigger size to fill up space, but avoid going too small. This makes your resume look cramped and hard to read.
File format: rendered as PDF files
Word files are strictly forbidden, since your formatting can be distorted. It all comes to the perfect first impression, and terrible formatting is not one.
3. Content of an Equity Research Resume
An equity research resume should have four main parts: education, work experience, extracurricular activities and additional information. Each section has its own standards, and perfecting all of them is crucial to impress recruiters and get your dream job offer.
The education section is usually the first part of your resume. Here you list out all the schools, education level, and majors you have attended, from the highest to the lowest (PhD – Masters – Bachelor). For each degree, include:
- Your school, major, honors, graduation date
- Your GPA/Test score: Recruiters pay significant attention to numbers and scores, so remember to put this as the first bullet for each degree you have. For PhD/Masters, include your GMAT/GRE score. For undergraduates, your GPA is usually enough. If your accumulated GPA is rather unimpressive, focus more on classes that matter and you score high on.
- Your awards/honors: If you have any award (Dean’s list), scholarship or other recognition, put them here. If you have won competitions, include them (only list them if you placed high (first or second place), not just participated (placed 20/40) so recruiters actually know that you achieved something).
- Your relevant courseworks: If you want to break into equity research from a non-finance major, mention relevant courseworks like valuation, accounting to prove your technical knowledge and show that you have what it takes for the job.
Here’s how a good education section may look like:
3.2. Work experience
Work experience is the second part of your resume. If you already have a solid career background, you can put it before education (remember, show the most impressive part first). A good experience section should be specific, relatable and quantifiable so the recruiters see you as achieving, detailed and result-oriented. Always remember, focus on achievement, not description..
Yes: “Performed analysis on 50 companies with solid balance sheets and ability to generate significant amounts of free cash flow, invested in the 10 most promising and realized a 30% return in 2 months”
No: “Performed financial modeling using quantitative and qualitative analysis”
Yes: “Managed portfolio with 30 stocks in 4 different industries, worth a combined $1 million, earning 80% profit within 3 months of holdings for investors”
No:“Managed large stock portfolio and made significant profits for investors”
Align your skills with job requirements
List only the experience that matters to save space.
Use industry jargon and buzzwords to make your resume stand out
Here’s a decent experience section:
3.3. Extracurricular activities
Extracurricular section is more important for undergraduates and non-MBA students. Recruiters want to see that you are well-rounded, not just being able to top your classes but also involved in other interests. It is also where you can demonstrate your leadership ability. Again, focus on the impact of what you did with your extracurriculars, not just list everything out and expect recruiters to appreciate it.
Relevant extracurricular activities include student societies (especially finance-related), fraternities, volunteer work. The most important thing is to show the recruiters that you are a team-player, you get along well with people while also getting A’s. And being club leaders/project leaders also helps!
For MBA or job hoppers, you can completely ignore this part. Your education and job experience themselves are credentials to your abilities.
3.4. Additional information
Keep the additional information short and simple, to save space for the more important parts, but don’t forget it. Here you can actually show that you are a living, breathing human being, with your own preference and interests, not just a working machine. Common additional information are:
- Financial certifications: You are a CFA charterholder? List it. You have other related certifications? Include them. Recruiters always appreciate a person of recognition.
- Language fluency: You are multilingual? Perfect. Recruiters do want someone who can work with different people of different languages, especially in Europe, where you’ll meet more people of diverse backgrounds.
- Skills: You can list your other technical skills like computing, Office tools, coding, etc.
- Interest: You can be flexible here. Any interest would do, but try to be unique.
Here’s our resume’s additional information:
Equity Research Resume Sample
Avoid admitting that you don’t have any equity research experience on your resume, since this usually leads to instant disqualification. Instead, leverage on other experiences like student societies or investing activities.
Managing a personal portfolio should be the best to leverage on, because it is directly related to equity research. But try to show that you are serious with your investment, other than making it look like a part-time hobby.
Here’s how you should describe your investing experience:
Independent portfolio manager:
- Managed portfolio of 40 stocks from 5 industries, with net asset value of $2 million, earned 30% annualized return over 3 years
- Specialized in tech and biotech, analyzed over 100 tech and biotech companies and invested 40% of portfolio in the two industries
Here’s how you shouldn’t describe your investing experience:
- Managed own portfolio and helped relatives with asset allocation over 2 years
This sounds like you trade as a hobby instead of actually researching and investing seriously.
Yes, you should. This shows that you are actually interested in equity research. But remember to actually research and invest, not just spending money randomly on random stocks, because the industry is equity research.
If you really know what you are doing, do send a stock pitch, sample report or a financial model with your resume, because you will get asked about it. And it must be yours, so you will know exactly what you are talking about.
If not, just send your resume and cover letter. You wouldn’t want to be questioned with what you don’t know.