Guest comment: Differentiating your CV with a transaction list

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First comes the CV. Next comes the list of transactions you've worked on, says John Lenz, consultant at financial services executive search firm Healy Hunt.

For candidates seeking mid- to senior-level front-office banking positions, a transaction list is an essential appendix to a CV. For those less experienced candidates looking for more junior positions, adopting a similar approach can also make a big difference.

As its name suggests, a transaction list is effectively a list of notable transactions that a candidate has worked on over a period of time. Normally 18-24 months is considered sufficient. It outlines for each deal:

· name of lead bank/company (or description of the company, where confidential);

· the type of transaction (e.g. M&A);

· the size of the deal in monetary terms;

· your input into the transaction - e.g. origination (1st chair, 2nd chair), execution, modeling, due diligence.

There are several reasons for adopting such an approach. Firstly, it can demonstrate good client contacts and an exposure to the important players in the financial markets. The old adage 'who you know' applies here. Second, a transaction list can often be used to infer that a person's experience is client-facing, revenue-generating, front-office and commercial - important prerequisites to securing a front-office role.

Because a deal list forms an appendix to a CV, it also has the advantage of keeping the CV itself short and sweet - if you're referring to the deals you've worked on in an appendix, there's no need to include more than a summary of each role in your CV. This keeps time-conscious recruiters and line managers happy.

Bear in mind, however, that the deal list will frequently be used as a point of reference in an interview, so be sure to be accurate in articulating your input - and don't exaggerate! I've come across several situations in which candidates have overstated their input on a particular deal only for the interviewer to ask a number of technical questions about a specific transaction. The candidates have not been able to respond adequately and the line manager, suspecting the worst, has quickly rejected them from the process. The golden rule of CV writing applies here: don't lie, as you will be found out!

Another common mistake is to quote too many deals when compiling a transaction list. Candidates wrongly assume that by inundating the reader with pages of transactions, their application will create the perception of greater experience and be more successful. Not true! Stick to the most notable transactions, ideally ones that have gone to credit committee (regardless of whether they complete), have done so within 18-24 months and where your input in the deal has been most worthy of mention. Deals listed on the transaction list should also be highly relevant to your specialist market. Remember recruiters and line managers look for quality not quantity when reading a CV.

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