(1) Continue Learning
Competency building, esp in the broadening of one’s market knowledge, is important… Typically, at interview sessions, potential employers ask you how many years of relevant experience you have got. This is tough and very much like a “chicken and egg” question, coz one obviously does NOT have any relevant experience if one is not in the finance industry YET. I have gone thru this myself and am fully aware how tough it can be. However, I still believe there are a few things one can do to demonstrate proactiveness in building up one’s competency, one of which is to broaden your market knowledge and gain exposure to analyst research. For a start, if you are not yet sure what you wish to achieve in the finance industry, read a bit of everything… and when you are more certain of what you wish to do, focus your attention to reading the more relevant stuff. It’s very much a self-discovery process.
(2) Keep on Networking
It is important to leverage on contacts in your job search because many vacancies in the finance industry are filled based on referrals, whether we like it or not. It is very common for one’s boss to ask his team-mates if they know anybody with a certain skill set to fit any new role they are contemplating. Such openings are obviously not even publicised. Referrals also have the added advantage that one of the team members may have worked with the new person before and most likely can have a good working relationship with him/ her. When I was still outside the finance industry, the number of contacts I had in the finance industry could be counted with one hand! After I realised the importance of networking, I made it one of my personal objectives to attend networking events regularly and hook them for lunch/ drinks to better understand the industry structure thru them. Today, though I already know many people in the investment mgt industry, I still see value in professional networking as a continual process, very much like a basic survival skill.
Now do NOT start asking us if we have any job to offer you, coz we will only offer it to people whom we know well enough. Please see the next slogan below “Embracing the mindset– How can I help you?”
Networking is social, casual, and it’s about connecting with everyone you meet without expectation of “getting something in return”. It is important to embrace the proper mindset in networking right at the start, coz once we start having incorrect mindset of “What’s in it for me?”, it will subconsciously enter into our belief system and come out naturally when we interact with others, whether friends, colleagues, or even headhunters/ potential employers at interviews. In this little booklet by Robert Half on “Understanding the Dynamics of An Interview”, there was a page on “Negative Factors Evaluated by an Interviewer”. The page lists some of the factors frequently considered by interviewers to eliminate candidates, and it is said that the employer will be evaluating candidates’ negative as well as positive attributes. The line that caught our eye was: Persistent attitude of “what can you do for me?”.
Indeed, if we think about it at a deeper level, it makes sense: all else being equal, would employers prefer to select a candidate who thinks “How can I contribute?” or another candidate who thinks “What can you do for me?” We think the answer is obvious.. We know it is very difficult to find a job now, but this mindset issue could be one of the reasons holding back some of us.
In a nutshell, let’s embrace “Continue Learning and Keep On Networking” with the proper mindset.