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I am applying for an internship in investment banking. My undergraduate grades are near-perfect and I will be attending an Ivy-League graduate program. I've also co-founded a reasonably successful startup, which I've now left in order to do the graduate program.

I feel like these experiences stand out well on my resume, but I am hesitating to add something else:

Namely, I've also worked as a salesman. My job was to sell newspaper subscriptions on the street. This has really given my a lot of experience in terms of persuasion/sales skills, and I think it might be a positive thing from the point of view of an investment bank recruiter, since investment bankers also need "persuasion and sales skills". Moreover, it is the only real job I've had apart from the startup I co-founded.

However, I simultaneously feel it is much less of an accomplishment than my other accomplishments, so I'm afraid it would detract attention from the others, and make my resume a little more "ugly". (by the way, if I would remove it, it wouldn't create a gap, since it was a side job).

How would recruiters at investment banks look at that sales job on my resume? Would they react more positively if I added it, or if I removed it?

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The things which can make your resume look ugly:

  • too long (too detailed, e.g. listing 1 month holiday jobs)

  • listing things which do not provide relevant experience

  • Things which show that you are actually looking for something different (e.g. scientist applying for a job, where you see that they actually want to do science)

I am an technical consultant sometimes and evaluating resumes for relevant experience (typically a PHD is required). And still I would see such a job (i had applicant with simiar jobs) very positive, since it is about handling people, and I have never heard anything different from my colleagues or managers with whom i discuss the resumes. And it seems (good grades) obvious that you do not want to go back to that job.

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You obviously have passion and are convinced that the sales relates to your desired path. Put it in, and sell that point.

You're going to get questions about the sales, which is an opportunity to sell yourself. As you've done sales, you know how important that is.

What belongs on a resume is simple: Whatever will get you an interview belongs on the resume. The resume is not to get you a job. The resume is to get you the interview. Too many people forget that.

So, what gets you the interview?

  • Relevant experience
  • A satisfactory skill set
  • An explanation of any gaps (have something in there, even if it's totally unrelated. Something is better than nothing.
  • Anything that makes you stand out.

When I was in between jobs I worked for a convenience store. I put that on a resume, and have been asked why I worked there. I told them that they had their own IT department, and I liked the company, and was applying for internal positions. Suddenly, working for a convenience store chain made me look clever.

Put the sales position in, use it as an opportunity to open doors.

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Personally, I would add and it and tell the interviewers what you just described. Even though it is less of an accomplishment, it is still very much relevant. Furthermore, it could give you a chance to "brag" a bit about the things you have learned.

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