How to write a graduate CV for retail banking, insurance and actuary jobs
A surprising number of insurance, retail banking and actuarial graduate employers require candidates to attach a CV as part of an online application form. These include HSBC, Santander, Barclays, Swiss Re, Aon and Aviva.
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. Take a look at our annotated graduate CV sample for some general principles to bear in mind when writing your CV.
However, some individual employers state requirements that you should adhere to. For example, Barclays requires that your CV should only be a page long as they want to assess your ability to be concise. HSBC specifies that your CV to them should include:
- All your work experience to date (including voluntary and part-time work, and internships)
- Extracurricular activities
- Positions of responsibility
- Your academic details
- Scholarships and any awards
For HSBC, to show that you’ve customised your CV to them, it might be worth structuring your CV around those headings. If you’re applying to other firms, this list of requirements is a good starting point when deciding what to put on your CV.
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 extra-curricular 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 it.
- Say what you achieved. When you worked in Argos, say, how many store credit cards and insurance policies did you sell? If it was a good number, include it. 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?
Follow these tips and you will be doing what a former graduate recruiter at Santander liked to see from applicants: stating what you delivered.
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).
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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