5 Ways to Craft a Resume that Gets Noticed by VCs
In venture capital, the competition for almost any job is going to be stiff. You will be competing against Ivy league graduates, experienced investment bankers, and former startup founders that have exited one or even companies.
You might be among thousands of applicants vying for any one analyst or associate role. This means your resume needs to be sharp and immediately convey your best qualities and experiences. There is very little margin for error.
We’re here to reduce your margin of error. We’ve reviewed hundreds of resume’s for aspiring VCs. So in this blog post, we’ll cover five ways to craft a resume that actually gets noticed by VC firms.
1. Show, Don’t Tell
It’s very common to see an applicant’s resume lead off by describing what industries they’ve worked in. Like when people say “experienced marketing professional,” “passionate venture capital professional,” or “award-winning journalist.”
Unfortunately, none of these say anything about why the applicant is worthy of the job.
The proof is always in the pudding. Don’t tell somebody you are experienced, show them. When a venture capitalist invests in a startup it is typically because that startup has gained traction through tangible accomplishments such as revenue growth, lots of users, or tons of impressions. The tangible accomplishments speak for themselves.
The same goes for VCs looking to hire a new analyst or associate. If you say something like “seasoned marketing professional for a Saas startup,” that’s not likely to get you too far. But if instead, you say “helped a pre-seed Saas startup grow organic users by 300% in four months,” now you’ve got the hiring manager’s attention.
And not only do you have their attention, but you’ve got the hiring manager thinking, ‘Well, how did they do that.’ Now, the company is going to speak to you because they actually want to know how you achieved 300% organic growth.
Suddenly, you’ve gone from a pool of a thousand candidates to maybe one of 20. Getting noticed early on is difficult, so give the hiring manager every reason to actually want to reach out and meet you.
2. Throw Some Passion On The Page
You’ve got to be passionate about venture capital if you want to succeed because the industry is extremely complex and requires a lot of hard work. When venture capitalists are scouting startups, they are looking for the most passionate founders that they know will not stop until they succeed. They want founders that are going to eat, sleep, and breathe their startups.
The same goes for when VCs are hiring. If you’re not incredibly passionate and not willing to work long hours and do whatever it takes, then you probably aren’t going to succeed because VC is an industry that requires lots of failure before success.
Again, don’t say you are passionate on your resume show it. For instance, a good line would be, “Served as an advisor to five different fintech startups, three of which went on to get funding.”
In this one line, you’ve shown that you were willing to take the time to assist startups, that startups wanted your skillset and knowledge on their team, and that the companies you assisted saw some success. Your passion doesn’t even need to be this advanced though. Saying something like, “Volunteered at 10 different accelerators in three years” also shows passion because you were willing to spend a lot of your free time volunteering.
3. An Efficient Layout
While experience and passion are the most important parts of your resume, that doesn’t mean that the look and layout of the resume aren’t also important. If you’re a hiring manager and you have hundreds or thousands of resumes to go through, what is more appealing: A big wordy paragraph or small bullets that are easily digestible?
This is why it’s important to show your experience and passion as fast and as efficiently as possible. The people running the hiring process have too much to do. You also don’t want people having to scour your resume for the basics such as your email address or where you went to college. Put that at the top and make it easy to find.
Furthermore, really try to condense the information into one page. After all, if a recruiter isn’t interested in you after one page why would they be interested in you after two? The resume is the first course. The firm just wants to make sure you have the qualifications, experience, and passion. It’s during the interviews later on that the partners will ask more in-depth questions.
4. No Little Mistakes
With so many resumes to review, recruiters or hiring managers are going to be looking for a reason to eliminate your resume from the pool. It’s nothing personal. They have a big job to do and not enough time to do it. The sooner they can narrow the pool of applicants the sooner they can hire somebody, so any kind of little typos or incorrect grammar is likely going to make their jobs a lot easier.
Nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes but make sure to proofread your resume several times, run it through spell check, and have a friend review it. Also, make sure to give yourself a chance to get fresh eyes on it. Don’t write it, proof it, and submit it all at once. Your job is to make it impossible for recruiters or hiring managers to eliminate your resume from the applicant pool.
5. Get The Experience
Having a good resume is a huge part of getting hired so don’t rush it. But also realize that if your experience is good the resume will pretty much write itself. The expression “fake it until you make it” only goes so far and a lot of times the VC partners and senior analysts will be able to sniff out any kind of BS you try and put on the resume.
Sure, you may not be able to get an internship at Sequoia but there is plenty you can do on your own. You can go out and take an online course, you can offer to work at a startup in a limited capacity, or you can go invest in an equity crowdfunding round and then write up your own detailed analysis detailing why you made that investment. If the startup you invest in turns into a five- or 10-bagger, VCs will take notice.
If you are struggling to fill out your resume this likely means you don’t have the necessary experience to get the job. Rather than wasting time sending resumes to 50 or 100 places go take the time to get the necessary experience to become qualified. Work smarter not harder.