How to write a graduate CV for retail banking, insurance and actuary jobs

Showing on your CV that you can exceed targets and build good relationships will make you a graduate that financial services employers want to interview.

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Many insurance, retail banking and actuarial graduate employers require candidates to attach a CV as part of an online application form. Here’s how to make yours stand out from the rest.

What to put in a finance graduate CV

A graduate CV should never be longer than two pages. The structure of your CV is up to you; you should choose headings and a structure that you believe will most effectively convey your skills and experience.

However, some individual employers state requirements that you should adhere to. For example, some may require your CV to include particular subjects (such as extracurricular activities, positions of responsibility and any scholarships or awards). In this case, it might be worth structuring your CV around these headings to show the recruiter that you’ve tailored it to them. Other employers may specify how long your CV should be (eg one page rather than two pages).

Show that you meet targets and ‘deliver’

Retail bank managers have to ensure that they – and the teams they manage – meet sales targets. Roles in business development and sales for insurance will also involve meeting targets, and all roles in the finance industry involve meeting set business objectives.

On your CV:

  • Include any examples of when you’ve met objectives or targets. Part-time jobs in a sales role, eg in retail or telemarketing, will look good, but your extracurricular activities are also valuable. Possible examples include fundraising/gaining sponsorship and marketing student society events, but it can be anything when you set an objective and worked towards. Remember that any previous part-time jobs or involvement in extracurricular activities will also provide examples of your skills.
  • Say what you achieved. If you earned commission when working in retail, state how much you earned (use numbers or percentages depending on what looks best!) If fundraising, how much did you raise?
  • Quantify what you did and achieved. Use numbers where possible. If you worked in telemarketing, how many calls did you make? If you were a cashier, how many customers did you serve on busy days? What was the store’s takeover? If you marketed, say, a show for your university’s drama society, how many flyers did you hand out? How many tickets were sold?

Say you have customer service experience and/or can build relationships

All jobs in retail banking, actuarial work and insurance are client-facing; building relationships with clients is key to a successful career.

On your CV, include any examples of when you served customers and had to work with others to achieve a shared objective. Examples of the latter will be particularly persuasive if you didn’t know the other team members previously. When detailing your examples of customer service, make sure you include:

  • Times when you went 'above and beyond' to give good customer service
  • Any instances when you were praised by others for your customer service (eg your manager).

What matters more is that you show you’ve got the skills necessary to deliver excellent customer service. You may be able to develop some of these skills from home.

Always demonstrate that you have the skills that that employer particularly wants

Each employer will have its own list of the competencies that its looking for and it will use its own jargon – for example, some use the term ‘collaborative working’ for teamworking. When stating the skills you’ve developed, make sure you include all the ones that the employer is seeking and use the language it uses.

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