Practical analysis for investment professionals
18 April 2016

Three Tips for Building a High-Impact Resume

Now that social media plays such a significant role in how recruiters and potential employers evaluate you, is your resume still such a critical piece of the self-marketing puzzle?

Yes, it is, says career coach Dennis Grady of The Career Advisory Group. In the webinar, “Building a High-Impact Resume,” Grady explains that while social media is likely the first exposure a corporate or executive recruiter will have to you, your resume is still the most important factor in determining whether you receive an interview. Moreover, your resume often serves as the road map for that interview, giving you the opportunity to help determine what the focus of that conversation will be.

So what were Grady’s insights on building an impactful resume?

1. Focus on Accomplishments and Promotions

It is absolutely essential that you emphasize your key accomplishments and promotions, Grady explains. Specific details about your achievements give you credibility and demonstrate the kind of value you can bring to your future employer. Promotions show that your previous employers found your knowledge, skills, and abilities worth doubling down on. This, in turn, gives recruiters and hiring managers more confidence that you are worthy of a similar investment.

2. Leave Out What Is Not Relevant

While you almost always want to avoid gaps on your resume, you can downplay roles or aspects of roles that do not demonstrate how you will be useful in the position you are applying for. For example, if you are 25 years into your career and the first two or three jobs you had don’t have much bearing on what you have done most recently or what you hope to do in the future, it is enough to list the title, company, and years of those positions without bulleting your accomplishments in each.

3. Get the Top Third Right

Grady points out that, on average, resumes receive about six seconds of attention in the initial yes-or-no stage of consideration. If your resume is being viewed on a computer, odds are good that the top third will have to have enough of a hook to persuade the reader to scroll down. On print resumes, studies show recruiters’ eyes still track primarily to the top third and then to the bottom, where they expect to find your educational background. Grady recommends that the top third of your resume include your name, email, and phone number; a headline and subtitle; and a list of accomplishments and skills.

Several questions recurred during Grady’s presentation. By far the most common: How long should a resume be? The answer depends on you and your situation. As a general rule of thumb, Grady says that resumes should be no more than three pages.

Another frequent line of inquiry was from those seeking advice on how to transition into investment management from an information technology (IT) background. Although there was no time to address these queries in the webinar, Grady offered the following advice afterward:

  • Understand which transferable skills are most relevant to the roles you are targeting. Feature them at the top of your resume and highlight your accomplishments in IT roles. (Informational interviews can help with this.)
  • Determine if there are IT positions in financial services firms comparable to the ones you’ve held. Figure out how they contribute to the success of the investment management function and be able to explain the ways in which your earlier endeavors are equivalent to the ones you are seeking.
  • If you’re coming from the IT industry, consider moving to IT roles in a financial services firm as a way to get your foot in the door.
  • Target financial technology (fintech) companies.

The Career Advisory Group provides online training, including resume help. If you are looking for additional resources for building or updating your resume, the following may be helpful:

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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.

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About the Author(s)
Julia VanDeren

Julia VanDeren, manager, career services at CFA Institute, serves as the subject matter expert in career management skills, curating and developing career resources for members and program candidates. Previously, she served CFA Institute as career services representative, managing the CFA Institute JobLine (now Career Center) and Career Centre (now Career Tools) resources. VanDeren holds a BA from the University of Virginia and an MPA from Virginia Commonwealth University.

7 thoughts on “Three Tips for Building a High-Impact Resume”

  1. Hey Julia,

    You have clearly listed out the important aspects of Resume-building.It is really important to focus on the accomplishments and skills one learnt.A well written resume will definitely lead you to the interview.A well written and great article.

  2. I like that you stressed that you really need to get the top third of the resume correct. A lot of the time people don’t spend a lot of time looking at resumes. So, having a big impact on the being is a smart way to go. If you are having issues with writing a good one it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you.

  3. Mutuale Kasongo says:

    Thanks for highlighting what recruiters focus upon when screening a résumé. This gives us an outlook on aspects of our background that should be emphasized. The piece of advice is much appreciated!

  4. sorry to bring this up but the 2 pingbacks lead to somewhat shady results. Please follow up.

    1. Paul McCaffrey says:

      Terribly sorry for that Sriram. We removed those. Thank you for bringing it it to our attention.



  5. Busarakham says:

    Thank you! I like that you stressed that you really need to get the top third of the resume correct. A lot of the time people don’t spend a lot of time looking at resumes. So, having a big impact on the being is a smart way to go. If you are having issues with writing a good one it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you.

  6. Why users still make use of to read news papers when in this technological globe the whole thing is available on net?

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