With internship season in full swing, it may seem like an impossible feat to stand out among the thousands of applications being sent to the top real estate firms. Instead of spamming each posting that is up on LinkedIn and hoping for the best, there are some practical job application tips that could help you stand out from the pack and increase your chances of making it to the first-round interview. Check them out below!
Applying early will drastically increase the chances of your resume/CV actually getting looked at instead of getting lost in the huge pile of applications that accumulates over time. By taking initiative and submitting your application early, you give yourself a higher probability of landing an interview, as many seats are still unaccounted for. As the seats begin filling up, your chances of getting an offer decrease dramatically, given that competition tends to increase, causing you to also compete with applicants already in the advanced stages of the interview process.
Use a Professional Font and Text Size
This should be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many resumes/CVs we see with size 14 Comic Sans font. This will almost guarantee that your application will be screened out, as it shows a lack of effort and understanding of formatting norms. Times New Roman, Calibri, or Arial are safe fonts to use, with a 10-12 text size. Play around with your margins if you need more space (within reason), and make sure not to condense too much information into your materials. Use reasonable spacing, and make sure to keep everything consistent throughout the page.
Proofread Your Resume/CV and Cover Letter
Like the point above, this should be a no-brainer, but we have seen applicants misspell words (sometimes even the name of the company they are applying for) or send a resume/CV with edits still visible from their career coach. Again, sending something like this guarantees your resume/CV will be screened out. Triple-check to ensure you are referencing the correct company name, position, and dates within all your deliverables. If you are emailing a specific person, make sure you spell their name correctly. It takes a maximum of 5 minutes of extra work, so do it!
Avoid Using Colors / Pictures on your Resume/CV
More commonly seen with European applications, but avoid using color schemes or a profile picture on your materials. Both are not regarded as “professional” in finance and are generally frowned upon within the industry. Remember, your resume/CV is not meant to be your LinkedIn profile. If someone were that curious to see what you look like, they would look you up. Less is more when it comes to formatting, so stick to classic structures and black text when creating your resume/CV and cover letter. Otherwise, you will definitely stand out, but for all the wrong reasons.
Submit PDFs Only
Unless otherwise stated, always submit resumes/CVs and cover letters as a PDF. This makes it easier for someone to review on a phone or tablet and is the industry standard when submitting deliverables. Sending a word document may alter the formatting depending on how it is opened and can reveal more than expected to the end user.
Research the Company
When writing cover letters, it is important to tailor each one to the specific firm and role you are applying for. Make sure you are being genuine, and add content that shows you took the time to research the company (including specific transactions, investment strategies, or any other interesting market activity) to show interest. In our experience, cover letters won’t get you the interview on their own, but can definitely take you out of the running if they are riddled with errors. Keep it modest in length, ensure there are no spelling mistakes, and format it professionally and you should be in good standing.
Another Pro Tip: Try to speak to someone at the firm before submitting your cover letter and name drop them within the first few sentences of the opening paragraph. This will immediately draw the reader’s attention and will increase the chances of your cover letter actually being read since someone on the team will have already vetted you.
Keep it to One Page
If you are applying for an internship, you should have no more than a one-page resume/CV. Multi-page resumes/CVs are for industry professionals with tons of experience, not students looking to break into their first internship role. If you need more space, play with the margins, spacing, or font size to free up the page. Try to keep bullet points as concise as possible, and have max 3-4 bullet points per role.
On the contrary, don’t have tons of white space on your resume/CV. If you need ideas to help add more content, write about notable projects you participated in school, certifications or courses you have taken that relate to the industry you are applying for, or talk about leadership positions you’ve held academically or in extracurricular activities.
This is another Pro Tip not done by many, but has proven quite successful for those who do it. Always reach out to someone from the company (for a coffee chat or quick call) after submitting your application. Worst case, they ignore you, and you can try reaching out to someone else. At best, you get your foot in the door and can have someone internally vouching for you, which significantly improves your chances of getting a first-round interview. It can be quite intimidating, but if done correctly, it can substantially increase your chances of success.
When reaching out, try speaking with someone with similar seniority as the role you are applying for. This will help take some of the pressure off during your call, and will also ensure that you get valuable intel on the interview process, what to study, and the role itself. Oftentimes, you can learn more about the culture or the firm, which you can then utilize in your future interviews.
Internship season can be a stressful time of the year for many, but it doesn’t have to be. The above pointers will help you position yourself well among the masses and improve your chances of getting that first-round interview. Although some of the advice given above may seem obvious, it’s important to make sure you don’t get screened out of the process and improve your odds of advancing to the interview stage.
Looking to learn more? Check out our various professional resources! Whether you have yet to break into the industry or are just starting out in a new role, we have everything you need. All you need to bring is your effort!