Many people searching for a banking career start out at the bottom, as a clerk or a teller, and strive to move up or be promoted into the next higher-paying position. Others begin their careers after graduating from college, and may even have had the opportunity of being an intern during their university studies. Others may have been recruited by a banking institution due to the degree obtained and the school or university where the student obtained the degree. Still other routes to bank careers include those in which the professional may have worked in a different but perhaps related field, such as insurance or accounting, and later chose to move from that field into the banking industry.
In all cases, successful job applicants must have composed a resume that is detailed, honest but succinct, correct but impressive, and will also need to be able to present himself or herself admirably within a job interview. You can’t make a second first impression – that’s the key to getting a good job in the banking industry. The resume will need to focus on skills and experience related to specific banking careers. Professional dress and appearance is crucial – if you look well-dressed and well-groomed, the employer may think you are a disciplined professional. If your resume is grammatically correct and well organized, the prospective employer may judge you to be a more competent candidate.
Many banking positions can be found online on both general job search engines, such as Monster.com and Jobs.com, as well as on the banking institutions’ websites themselves. Search for a company by entering the name on any search engine, such as Google.com, Bing.com or Ask.com, then accessing the company website. Most sites will have a page titled “careers” or “job opportunities” that will instruct the applicant on the method for applying to them for a position. Many large banking firms and most banking regulatory entities will even list the open banking careers positions with a link directly to the application. Good research and diligent time spent can result in many opportunities for interviews, and possibly, a new career in banking.
A resume that is well organized, detailed but concise, honest, and that includes descriptive verbs and specific nouns will open many interview doors for the job applicant searching for positions within the financial industry.
Young applicants for banking careers, with few job experiences, or even a recent college graduate, should be able to craft a good resume that is limited to one page in length. A more senior job applicant, with more than ten years of experience or more than five different jobs, may wish to use more than one page of a resume in order to outline his or her talents, skills, and experience. Nevertheless, a good rule for a proficient resume is a maximum of two pages in length. The only exception to this rule is used by university professors or esteemed professionals of a particular field, in which they are allowed more than two pages with which to chronicle their achievements and/or publications. This type of resume is called a “curriculum vitae”.
To prepare for a nicely organized resume, begin the outline by listing all job experiences by title of position, name of company, location (city and state), and the time frame of the position, for example, 2006 to present or 2004 to 2006. List the most recent or current position at the top, and the very first position ever held at the end of the list. If many years of experience are to be listed, or many positions held over the years, most employers only want to review what has been accomplished in the past ten to 15 years. However, for this exercise, list all positions, and as many experiences as can be described. The finished resume will list the jobs held at the actual end of the resume or at the bottom of the page, but the task of simply listing all job experiences will help to spur the memory of the duties, the skills, and details learned while employed at each position.
For each position, write sentences detailing all job duties, accomplishments, and any specific tasks completed while employed. Use as many descriptive verbs and nouns as possible, using the computer’s software and thesaurus or synonym help functions. List any awards, commendations, etc. Detail anything that might have shown good working habits, or that describes an exemplary employee, trainee, or intern. Next list all strengths.
Any work as a volunteer and any accomplishments or accolades while unpaid but working at a charity or nonprofit organization, as well as any business, such as family-held businesses, should also be listed and detailed.
Now list details about education and degrees held, again putting the most current achievement at the top of the list, ending with a high school diploma or GED details. Also list any continuing education certificates or degrees held, as well as any education that did not result in a degree.
To assemble the resume, beginning at the top, type the name of the owner of the resume, centered and in bold letters, in a font that is larger than the body of the resume. Just below the name, type the address in a smaller font than the name, but again in a font that is bigger than the resume’s body. Telephone numbers, cell and home, should be listed below the name and address at the left margin of the page, notating which is the cell number and which is the home number. At the right margin of the page, list a private email address. Never use a current work phone number or a current job email address on a resume. If a private email address is not owned, yahoo.com, hotmail.com, and gmail.com offer free private email addresses for anyone who requests one.
Now go back and re-read and review each of these descriptive sentences. Edit the sentences to be grammatically correct, verbally descriptive and appealing, and to be concise, succinct, but correct and true. Don’t be too wordy, and don’t use run-on sentences. Make each sentence refer to a different task or responsibility, and don’t duplicate experiences or restate the same skill.
Place these descriptive sentences within one or two paragraphs directly after the name, address, and contact details. Title the two paragraphs: 1) Job Experience and 2) Accomplishments. List the sentences accordingly into the two paragraphs. If there are only one or two sentences for each paragraph, they may be listed all under a single paragraph titled: Job Experiences and Accomplishments. Hint: List the best accomplishments and/or experiences placed as the first and the last items listed in each paragraph. Most resume readers will focus only on a few words or sentences and the eye naturally zooms in on the first and last sentences.
Next, list job experience details, again listing the most current at the top and the first job held at the bottom of the list. This list will be followed by all education details.
The last line of text should state: References available upon request. Have a separate paper with a listing of references, with contact details, to be able to hand to the interviewer. Never list reference names directly on a resume that may be emailed, faxed, or listed online anywhere.
Each paragraph title should be in bold, and either centered over the paragraph, or, if you prefer, at the left margin aligned with text. Begin each descriptive sentence with a bullet or a notation mark. Be sure to carefully review all words and text to be grammatically perfect. If even one or two grammatical mistakes have been made on a resume, they may be all that the reviewer remembers about the applicant, regardless of the accomplishments listed on the resume.
Avoid flowery text or font, particularly when applying for banking jobs. Colored paper is not advised when applying for banking careers, unless it is a muted, off-white color. Since most resumes are transmitted online today, the type of paper used does not seem important. However, when meeting a prospective employer, it is a good idea to offer the employer a printed copy of the resume on high quality paper in order to appear more organized and professional.
In banking jobs, as is the case in most fields, an interview is the next step toward being hired. Once the applicant for a position has submitted a resume and has been asked for an interview, be it a telephone interview or a face-to-face interview, you have overcome a major hurdle. You are now successfully positioned above all the other resumes that did not make the cut to the next step – the interview. Something in the resume matched one of the listed job titles, skills, experience, or accomplishments needed by the prospective employer.
Now is the time to do some homework. First, research the company. Find out what the company does, where they are located, and read public relations notices to become familiar with the company, its accomplishments, and events. If the company is a large firm and publicly held, researching the company’s stock and its financial status is a good idea so that the interviewee can knowledgeably discuss the firm during the interview. If the prospect is applying to a regulatory body, knowledge of the duties and responsibilities will be crucial in being able to successfully converse with the prospective employer. Also research the position applied for, including the duties, responsibilities, and tasks. Most interviewers like to do the majority of the talking in an interview, curiously so, but a knowledgeable applicant can ask educated questions in order to keep the conversation flowing in the right direction.
Before the interview for the position, prepare the clothing to be worn at least a day before the interview. Make sure that the clothing and shoes are clean, not ripped or tattered, pressed and polished. Particularly with banking jobs, the clothing and shoes should be conservative and subdued, not flashy and not too “trendy”. Men should wear a suit and tie, making sure that the belt and shoe colors match. If the applicant does not own a suit, a suit coat or blazer with trousers that complement the blazer can be acceptable, but may be underdressed for some firms. The suit should be a conservative color, such as brown, blue, or black. In summer, particularly in hot climates, a summer- weight suit is acceptable, and in some areas, even a conservative pastel suit may be acceptable. Women should wear pantsuits or a skirt and jacket in subdued and conservative tones. Avoid flashy colors, low cut blouses, and extremely short skirts. Shoes can be low or high heel, but should be conservative. Accessories and makeup should be kept to a minimum. The applicant’s hair, nails, teeth, and face should be neat and clean. The focus should be on the applicant’s skills, talents, accomplishments, and achievements, rather than any apparel or personal neglect that could be distracting.
If the applicant is personally acquainted with someone in the same company or field that the applicant is applying for, ask for advice about what is considered acceptable business dress. It is possible to be over dressed for an interview, and it is also possible to be underdressed or even ill-dressed for an interview.
Never be late for an interview, and it is acceptable to be five to ten minutes early. When arriving for an interview, greet the receptionist or person at the front of the office with a smile and a business card. One never knows who may be the first person seen when arriving for the interview, it might even be the person who will conduct the interview. If asked to wait briefly, and if a seat is offered, sit.
Once ushered into the room for the interview, greet the interviewer with a handshake and a smile. Offer a business card and strive to be friendly and congenial, but not overly gregarious. Sit up straight for the interview, don’t slouch or become too comfortable or drape an arm across the back of the chair or seat. If seated at a table, it is acceptable to rest hands and arms on the table, but never rest elbows on the table for any reason, as this is considered impolite body language. Similarly, do not cross arms over each other and sit back as this also is a negative body tactic and conveys defensiveness to the interviewer. When listening, sit straight but lean slightly toward your interviewer and always offer a direct gaze. Avoid looking away. When replying, look directly at the interviewer and lean forward toward him or her. Smile often.
Be prepared to offer details about prior job experiences, and have a good answer about why the banking careers job offered is desired. A common tactic of interviewers is to ask for the applicant’s description of his or her strengths and weaknesses. Obviously, the applicant should be aware of his or her strengths and should be able to expound on any number of strengths of character and or employment background. An applicant who is prepared for these questions can successfully deflect the “weakness” question by stating a “weakness” that can also be seen as strength of character. An example of this could be an applicant detailing his qualities as a researcher. He might state that his weakness is that he is never satisfied with his research, and feels that even if the project has been accomplished, he could probably have obtained more data, or done more research.
Once the interview has wrapped up, be sure to firmly shake the interviewer’s hand, thank him or her for the interview and the time spent speaking with the applicant. Tell the employer that you look forward to hearing from him or her.
After the interview, always send an email or a written note thanking the interviewer again for taking the time to speak about the position, reiterating that you hope that the interviewer found that you would make a good member of his “team”.
A prospective applicant for a job in banking should prepare for the interview by securing the approval of a few personal and three to five professional or educational references prior to meeting with the employer offering the position. Before listing anyone as a reference, always contact the person by phone or email. Tell the person that you are applying for a job and ask the person if they would be agreeable to offering a personal reference on your behalf. Most people are honored to be asked to give a reference, and will usually give a good reference. However, be advised that a negative reference can kill any job opportunity that you seek. Carefully consider your friends, acquaintances, and coworkers before you decide to offer their name as a reference.
A good personal reference is someone whom you have known for at least two to three years, or more, and who can vouch for your good character and professional attitudes with positive descriptions. A pastor or priest, a longtime family friend, or teachers are good choices. Never list a family member or relative. Employers, in general, will not believe a reference from a family member.
Professional references can be anyone for whom you have worked, including coworkers and management people. If you have volunteered your time and not been paid, such as at an internship or for work at a charity, coworkers and supervisors in these areas make good references, too. Choose people with whom you enjoyed good working relations and people who will be positive in their reference.
Once you have chosen the people you wish to list as your references, and they have given their approval, always let them know once you have actually given their name and contact information to a prospective banking careers employer. Talk to your reference, and discuss the job details as well as the person with whom you interviewed. Ask your reference to focus on discussing details about you and your skills or experience that you know the prospective employer will want to hear. For instance, if the job you are seeking is a management position, coach your reference person to discuss your skills in people managing in a positive manner with the employer. Or if the job you seek is a research position, ask the reference person to talk about your abilities and talents as a researcher. People like to be asked to be a reference, but will also appreciate a bit of notice prior to the reference conversation of what they might want to discuss.
List your references with contact numbers on a sheet of paper and only offer the references if asked by your interviewer. The interviewer may prefer that you email the list after the interview. Employment law today only allows prospective employers to ask a few questions from your previous employer, namely, job title, duties (briefly) the length of your employment, and if you are eligible for rehire. Any other answers to questions, if negative, could be legally construed as slander. Hence, prospective employers prefer that the applicant produce reference people who will agree to answer more detailed questions about the applicant.