How to Write a Graduate CV for Retail Banking, Insurance, and Actuary Jobs
While employers in the insurance, retail banking, and actuarial graduate industry are rapidly shifting to an online platform for their recruitment efforts, such as the online application form, many of them still require their applicants to submit a CV/résumé. This practice could be attributed to a variety of reasons:
- CVs provide an opportunity for you to submit a cover letter.
- Employers want to ensure that your submitted information (online application and CV) corroborates each other.
- You can arrange and format the information in your CV to highlight your skills more effectively.
But how should you adapt the details in your CV for employers such as DBS Bank, Barclays, and Aviva?
Details for the finance graduate CV
As a rule of thumb, graduate CVs shouldn’t exceed two pages because recruiters rarely spend more than half a minute scanning through each application, so ensure that you only include vital details in your CV.
You should also take time to think about how you should structure your CV for effective exposure, e.g. headings, candidate photo and contact details, arrangement of the sections, etc. For instance, should you make use of the conventional chronological format for your résumé, or experiment with alternative formats instead?
That said, be sure to check with individual employers for specific requirements that you’re required to follow. For instance:
- Barclays’ online application webpage only allows a one-page CV.
- HSBC pinpoints specific sections that you must include in your CV to them, e.g.
- All your working experience (including voluntary and part-time work, as well as internships)
- Extracurricular activities
- Positions of responsibility
- Academic details
- Scholarships and awards.
- Other banks may also impose other prerequisites for graduate CVs, such as to omit or avoid including
- Salary history or requirements
- Hobbies and interests.
Failing to adhere to these conditions might result in a negative impression of you, and in the worst case scenario, could even result in the disqualification of your application.
Demonstrating specific skills
It’s important that you tailor your CV to reflect the competencies that the recruiters are looking for. Typically, you’ll find their desired proficiencies in the job listings, although not necessarily itemised in a convenient list. In most cases, you’ll have to look out and decipher keywords into corresponding skills instead. For example, when employers use terms such as “collaborative working” or “meticulous”, it means that they are looking for candidates who are able to work well in a team and detail-oriented.
Among some of the must-have skills that candidates interested in the retail banking and insurance industry include:
- Able to meet targets and deliver
Roles in this industry places a lot of importance on meeting sales targets and set business objectives, so if you’re keen on landing a position in this sector – especially a sales position – it’s essential that you showcase your ability to meet targets in your CV or during interviews.
Be sure to do the following in your cover letter or CV:
- Include relevant examples
Highlight examples where you’ve met objectives or targets, such as when you were temping in a sales or marketing role. Examples from extra-curricular activities that can help you demonstrate your ability to meet targets are useful too. For instance, if you’ve been involved in fundraising events or marketing drives, do bring it up!
- Mention your achievements
Don’t just stop at generic statements such as “I sold life insurance during my stint in Company MNM.” Talk about your achievements as well, such as internal awards that you’ve attained, commissions that you’ve earned, highest number of sales that you’ve managed, and projects that you’ve accomplished. These are highlights that will convince potential employers of your ability to achieve targets and objectives.
- Offer concrete numbers
To further prove your ability to achieve objectives, consider quantifying your success by offering concrete numbers and percentages. For example, if you were part of the marketing and sales team for a particular event, how many tickets did you sell and how did you measure the success of the marketing drive?
If you are unable to provide an exact number (e.g. sales figure, etc.) for confidentiality reasons, consider using percentages instead. For instance, “I’ve helped to increase sales figure by 30%”. It is also a good idea to contextualise your achievements by mentioning the timeframe, such as “I achieved the monthly target sales within three weeks into the job.”
- Customer-facing and interpersonal skills
As an employee in this industry, you can expect to be serving and interacting with customers from all walks of life. For this reason, good customer-facing and interpersonal skills are immensely important, and can determine how well you are at your job.
In your CV, select and include examples where you assisted customers in solving their enquiries, or where you worked with colleagues or acquaintances to achieve a goal. When sharing, be sure to:
- Contextualise the situation
Briefly mention specifics to help your recruiters understand the situation that you are facing (e.g. the obstacles faced, etc.) and how you employed excellent interpersonal skills to help the customers. For instance, how did you cater to the needs of an irate customer and help rebuild his/her trust in your organisation? Did you work with a new colleague on a project?
- Include extra mile efforts
Often, employees with good customer-facing are willing to go the extra mile for their customers or colleagues. It’s a good idea to bring up these efforts and how it has impacted your relationships with colleagues or customers.
- Share testimonies
If you have been praised by your supervisors or colleagues for your ability to build and cultivate relationships, do mention it – if not in your CV, then in your interviews.
While many graduate schemes at retail banks often start accepting applications in August or September, it’s advisable for you to constantly check on the websites of individual employers to get a better idea of their recruitment cycle.
Whatever their closing dates are, do start your research and application drive early instead of leaving it to the last minute. This is because some employers process the applications as they come in, and might change the closing date/close earlier if they receive too many submissions.
What’s after submission
If your application is accepted, you can expect to encounter several stages of interviews and assessments such as the following:
- Online application
- Psychometric tests
- Interviews (telephone, face-to-face, panel, etc.)
- Assessment centres
Aside from making your own preparations for each stage – e.g. practising with career advisors, etc. – you should also check the employer’s website for advice and guidelines as most will provide details about their individual recruitment and selection processes.