What 'elite' firms care about on your resume

If you want to get hired by an "elite" firm in investment banking, law, or management consulting, what you think matters on your resume probably doesn't.

Research by Lauren Rivera, the result of working for nine months inside the process, shows that most applications go almost straight to the round file. Elite schools matter, because evaluators believe that getting into the top schools means the applicant is smarter and finds a way to reach their goals. Graduates from the top schools favored applicants from those schools, and since individual evaluators have enormous leeway, those biases matter, even though many surveyed felt courses were "too abstract," and even "useless" compared to more "practical" and "relevant" training offered at "lesser" institutions (from Rivera's "Ivies, Extracurriculars, and Exclusion" paper).

Non-academic activities matter, because those not involved outside the classroom were considered boring nerds who would turn into corporate drones if hired. Activities in the applicant's major, like investing clubs for finance students, are considered resume filler. Personal pursuits like sports mattered more, but only if the applicant reached a high level. Intramural sports, blah, varsity college athlete, let's talk more.

I knew it

What school you came from is everything. If you're not from Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Penn, Yale or Columbia, good luck. Even within school your major or subdivision can make a huge difference.

Doug on econlib.org

None of this surprises me. I've known a few alumni from Goldman Sachs, Lehman, WSJ, The Economist, and similar high-profile employers. The career trajectory is the same: Ivy League or Oxbridge to cushy job, usually through job fairs or old boy networks.

Nothing2SeeMoveAlong on reddit.com

Elite? These sectors are all heavily regulated or created by government. Try looking at top engineering teams managing offshore rigs, or research groups, or high end tech/software groups... You know, people who actually do "work" on "stuff".

joeftansey on econlib.org

It also sounds like the filter is more about money. If you have expensive hobbies, you probably can relate to other wealthy people. Consulting firms in particular are looking for people that can "build relationships" with clients.

msellout on news.ycombinator.com

Elite firms have elite clients and the elite clientele insists on folks with degrees from elite schools. Exceptions are made for hot chicks.

pstroll on reddit.com

Worth noting is that these firms go after mediocre Ivy graduates. The 3.8 CS majors are overqualified (except for quant positions). It's not about intelligence. It's only somewhat about social status.

michaelochurch on news.ycombinator.com

Not accurate

I work for an actuarial consulting firm and our hiring processes are in fact opposite of those mentioned above. our hiring process is a highly structured and monitored affair that places an emphasis on job experience and "non ivy league" elite schools such as Umichigan.

honeyoak on econlib.org

If it isn't necessary to go to an Ivy to end up among the most successful entrepreneurs, it's probably also not necessary to become a moderately successful entrepreneur.

crackalack on reddit.com

How I evaluate

I got them all to provide a writing sample. Since we do a lot of writing, I ended up putting a massive amount of weight in my final decision on that.

John Hall on econlib.org

It is true that evaluators have a huge latitude. When I was interviewing and eliminating applicants to my department, my word was basically law on who was hired. However, I gave detailed reasons why I chose the people we hired.

sangjmoon on reddit.com

This leaves out the many comments about investment banking no longer being an "elite" job. Recent events seem to point out that investment bankers have no real clue about the economy.

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