For as much as the U.S. financial services industry is recovering from the impact of the 08’ Crisis, getting a job in the sector is no walk in the park (at least not for most of us). Nonetheless, there are several things that everyone can do to exponentially increase their odds as they go through hiring cycles. Below, I have a few of the tips that really helped me.
1. Go The Extra Mile
Some people have absolutely stellar resumes and will be picked out of the resume pile without having to work for it – chances are, that’s not you. There is nothing that will help you get an interview more than networking with people and sending cold emails. Very few people will actually bother reaching out to employees in a company. Most will simply go to information sessions and send a couple of generic thank you emails. Be the person who goes the extra mile! Sending cold emails, especially where you have to “hunt” email addresses down, shows determination and resourcefulness – both key abilities of successful employees. Linkedin will be your best friends in this process; don't add people on Linkedin though, get their names and email them in their corporate emails.
2. Tailor Your Resume
Think of your resume like a puzzle. It’s not sufficient to have a bunch of pieces – the pieces themselves must fit together in a coherent way. It’s normal to be broad and try a bunch of different things before deciding on a career or major. As you build your resume though, think: “what does this employer want to see?” Select experiences that align with the interest an employer expects, and list experiences that show you are committed to a certain career path. Ultimately, you are better off listing fewer experiences that make sense together than showing to your employer that you’ve done a million different things. The last thing you need is for an employer to ask himself: “how long will this kid stay here until he decides he doesn’t like it any more than the last 10 things he did?”
3. Show You Can Work Hard(er)
Over the long run, talent loses to hard work. Show your employer that you’re not just smart or talented. Show people that even though you’re smart, you’ve worked hard. Show people that you can work harder than all the other guys they’ll be talking to. Have a story about when you worked in construction or trained for a half-marathon or helped someone with something exhausting. Show your employer that you’re no quitter and that he can count on you not dropping in performance when it’s the 100th hour of the week and there’s more work to do. Have a story ready – you’ll definitely have a chance to tell it.
4. Do Cool Stuff
Your team, your company and your office will consume most of your life in this industry, at least in the first few years. As a consequence, employers need to know more than whether or not you can execute tasks; they need to know if they can stand you while you’re at it. You’ll often be interviewed by analysts and associates who’ll be working directly with you. These guys want to know that you’ll be fun to hang out with when it’s 2am and you’re waiting for the MD to send edits on a presentation. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to have cool things to talk about and non-professional experiences to share. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take your interview seriously, but that you should be ready to be casual and discuss fun things if asked.
5. Be Skeptical (Always Be Preparing)
Getting many interviews does not guarantee that you’ll get many offers. There is a huge difference between your Application-to-Interview ratio and your Interview-to-Offer ratio, so don’t count on getting an offer until you have it. Before your interviews, the work never stops. Always be preparing. Make sure you know your technicals, your behaviorals and you know the company. Read the news and know the market (this applies in double for buy-side interviews). And even when you already have a bunch of interviews lined-up, still send applications out and try getting some more. Know that there are only so many spots out there, and when you tell yourself that you’ve done enough, there’s probably someone else just as smart as you who’s decided to prepare some more.
6. Count On Others
Talk to people who’ve been successful in finding jobs and ask them how they did it. Try finding those who interviewed in the same companies you’ll interview. Ask them what they did right and what they did wrong. Learn from their mistakes. Also have people with whom you can talk about what’s going through your mind. As I said in the beginning, the job search process is likely to be one of the most stressful things you’ve gone through in your life so far. Have people to support you technically, but never forget to have friends who can support you emotionally as well.