The Executive Summary: A Hidden Gem, A Strong Tool & More For Today’s Job Market

What an executive summary gives you over a resume and cover letter.

I want to share an overlooked tool. In my mind, this is one of the most important tools everyone should be using when thinking about a job change.  The bulge bracket firms are starting to reduce force again (which is not surprising as they all follow each other), the FED is seriously contemplating their next move, and the bond market is volatile since it has not been seen in quite a while, and firms at the large investment banking houses are trimming their employees. This is all happening while the firms at the more aggressive smaller shops, the ones I tend to represent, are actively recruiting.  Thus, an extremely active time for recruiting in the entire investment banking industry is occurring.  This tool, the executive summary, is worth its weight in gold.

How Is An Executive Summary “Worth Its Weight In Gold”?

So, why do I say this? And what is the difference between an executive summary versus a resume? What about a cover letter?  The main reason is that you create a tool to present your “self” to yourself first.  By using an executive summary, you know who you are and what you want to be presented to a hiring manager.  It’s much more than even a chronological resume or (my favorite) the functional resume, which allows you to show what you have done in a resume format.  The executive summary is first done by just thinking over a period of time as to what you REALLY want to do!  As the large investment houses are laying off people with tenure, they are also paying generous severance packages, which take the financial stress off of your current position of not having employment.  This downtime can now be used by you to find the answer to the question: What do you really want to do?  What skills can you transfer to a new position?  Maybe even out of investment banking?  The executive summary, if used properly, will unearth thoughts you may have suppressed about what you truly like about investment banking as well as what you did not enjoy as much. 

Let Your Thoughts Flow

The executive summary, if appropriately used by the candidate, will point the candidate in a new direction or confirm the path that they are on as the right one for them.  By first thinking and then putting it down in writing, observations will be revealed.  These insights are the gateway to your next move.  Now is the time for you to craft your next position, and the executive summary is the tool to do that.  Once you have your thoughts, put them down in writing in any format that is comfortable and feels natural, write without hesitation, not evaluating what is appearing on the paper.  There will be plenty of time to clean this document up to use in an interview and hiring mode.  But for now, let it be free thoughts and free of any form. 

Your Next Steps With The Executive Summary

The next step is the most important one: Do not do anything after the writing portion is complete for a minimum of 48 hours.  By not doing anything, I suggest letting it percolate.  When the 48 hours (or even more is better) is up, come back and read what you wrote.  You may be surprised to see what is on paper.  Now take that paper and after a clear vision of your future has come through, clean it up in any format that you believe best represents you and your idea of a perfect next position.  Whatever is revealed is the tool that you can share with a recruiter or a hiring manager.  The executive summary now becomes the stepping stone to creating your new resume and/or cover letter if you are going to market yourself without the use of a recruiter.  If by some chance you find yourself leaving your current industry, be thankful for the RIF as it gives you a new outlook on your career.  If your executive summary points you on the same path that you are already on, we would be delighted to help you find that next great position.


If you would like to discuss your options, please reach out for a confidential conversation at 760-477-1284 or email at [email protected]. He can also be reached on LinkedIn. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here, which is a compilation of our weekly blogs, so you never miss one. You can find our listing in the “supplier and services” section of the Red Book under the title of “executive recruiting.”

About Harlan Friedman, JD & Founding Member, H. Friedman Search LLC. Harlan is a thirty-year veteran Public Finance Banker turned recruiter who specializes in the placement of all levels Public Finance Bankers, Healthcare Bankers, Municipal Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.