I’m often asked what degree of skill level one needs to be able to include financial modelling as a skill on your resume or LinkedIn profile. Once you’ve got an idea of exactly what is financial modelling, what is involved in the modelling process and you feel like you’ve got a good knowledge of financial modelling skills that you have used in the workplace then – yes – “Financial modelling” definitely needs to go on your resume and on LinkedIn. (Hint: no one can endorse you for a skill unless you list it on your profile, so be sure to keep your skills listing up to date).
Since the economic crisis in 2008 and the uncertainty created by the COVID pandemic, emphasis on financial modelling has increased and in response, we have seen a rise in job descriptions specifying financial modelling as a core deliverable. If you’re applying for a job in finance then employers will no doubt look favourably upon this skill, as long as it rings true with the rest of your resume. It’s important that you can embellish the tasks in previous roles with examples of what kinds of models you built.There are lots of well-respected vocational short financial modelling courses that are available, however, what prospective employers really want to see is the application of financial modelling techniques in your everyday work.
Just reading a book or going on a financial modelling training course (even one of mine) doesn’t mean you can add “financial modelling” to your resume or LinkedIn profile! You need to have actually used your modelling skills in the real-world environment. Think about situations in past jobs where you have used Excel to create a model. Take every opportunity to use models in your work. If you’re not in work then find example models online, take them apart and see how you can improve them.
As with any information included on your resume, you must always be able to back up everything listed. If you have had some experience using a financial model in a previous role, by all means, include it in your resume – but don’t exaggerate because you may well be asked in the interview to back up and discuss in great detail the intricacies of how you created a particular model. Your resume should showcase your work history in the most favourable light but be realistic and able to back up your claims with real life examples – interviewers will not appreciate vague or cursory answers.
The majority of job descriptions incorporating financial modelling in the core skills of an available role are those in the economics, accounting, finance and project management spheres. For these types of jobs, it may be a more generic level of experience that they are looking for. If you can understand how an Excel spreadsheet works and the principles of control, you may not want to include the term ‘financial modeller’ in your core skills. However, phrases such as “Ability to apply strong financial controls” or “Strong analysis skills, allowing a flexible approach to decision making” can display the desired capabilities.
At the very least, the interviewer would be looking not only for the basic Excel skills but also the ability to calculate scenarios, present data as well as use advanced formulas. Also be aware: it is common for candidates to be tested in their skills within the interview process. Some self-development in these areas ahead of a career change can really help. If you have your heart set on a role which requires financial modelling experience, there is a wealth of information, courses and training that can support you. They can include advanced Excel and programming skills, as well as how to analyse financial reports and the more technical, industry-specific tools and techniques.
Experience in the field is also invaluable, of course. There are numerous voluntary opportunities where you could practice these skills and deliver a benefit while looking to get your foot on the ladder. Alongside this, self-study can support you in making this career change. Just be careful not to get carried away when including the self-study on your resume; and back up your claims with specific examples of work you have completed. Good luck!
Extract from Chapter 1, “Financial Modeling in Excel for Dummies” by Danielle Stein Fairhurst.