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3 specific steps to get a Job Interview at Investment Banks

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It is always discouraging to go on efinancialcareers and see the position you crave for has already received 100+ applications, or you simply don’t have the number of years experience required or the job asks for some skill set and expertise that you don’t have and have no idea of how to get.

You have so much passion and willingness to learn and you are so keen to show to the markets what you are capable of, get the respect from peers, be in a job that you can tell your parents to make them proud, socialise with power players over drinks and share how many hours you put into that report but it was all worth it in the end because your clients made money from it.

On the flip side, the fact is, most bankers also complain about the difficulties in hiring good associates or juniors.

The below are some specific steps you could take to get closer to where the job opportunities are.

Talk to colleagues/classmates/friends who are already in the industry doing similar jobs

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This seems obvious but most people tend to ignore this part and rather focus their efforts on learning more about analysis or modelling.

But the fact is, the artist that has a better network sells better than the artist with the better arts. So it is not about how much modelling you know but the people you know that can get you the job.

If you don’t really have the experience or skills, there isn’t a lot of credit learning by yourself anyway. However, once you know the people, even if you don’t have the skills required this time, as long as they remember you are keen, they will refer you the next time something different comes up and that’s the opportunity.

So invest in your network.

If after a few chats, the same skill comes up then go learn that skill. Don’t overthink too much by yourself and feel certain skills are necessary. Go talk to the people actually doing it and let them tell you.

Ask people out for coffee/lunch, join their gatherings, drinks, events, mingling activities like weekend hiking, boat trip, sports. Also ask for referrals. These people are the ones that could know where the jobs are before they are posted out so make sure you are well connected. A warm intro goes a long way more than some random email with a CV.

Linkedin – Get connected!

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The truth is most of us didn’t get in banking through graduate, internship or management trainee programs. We got in through our network. And you will definitely not get your next job through these programs. It will take time but like most things in life, if you persist you will get what you want. The time and effort in between are just the tests you have to go through to get to your end goals.

With Linkedin now getting connected is much easier than before. Make sure you have a professional profile picture and good description of your background. Do some homework on this browsing through other people’s profiles, read some articles and watch some videos on Youtube on setting this up as best as you can.

Then start connecting to people who are doing your dream job and the people surrounding them – their bosses, peers, associates, even the secretaries. Do some research on the person first before you connect, like if the person had made some comments in media before, work/academic history, interests, followings. Then send a personalised genuine message. If they are receptive, ask them out for a casual coffee over time.

Don’t ask for a job straight away. Talk to them, understand what they do and let them share. The trap here is to act pretentious. The trick is to ask and listen more than you talk.

In the end, it is just a numbers game so try to network and meet as many people as possible. Linkedin already provided a free platform for you to work the numbers.

To put into perspect, if it takes 10 connection request to convert to 1 interview and 10 interviews to get a job then your target is to send 100 connection request. Of course, practically, it is not going to quite work out the same but you have already learned something through this experience and plus, you are already doing something most of your competitors are not doing.

Direct email to the decision makers

This is back when Linkedin didn’t exist but I still believe is a useful way to connect because not everyone is on Linkedin or check it regularly.

Again do some research online – investment banking, hedge fund, sell side, buy side, whatever industry or role that you are most interested in. Read articles and watch videos of the people doing it already.

Then immense yourself doing that perfect job and think of the people to connect to. Try to find their emails online. I was in sell side before so it was relatively easier because the research reports have emails or you could find the analysts on companies IR websites.

Again, send personalised emails linking to their work/interests, remembering that you are not asking for a job but merely building a connection. Tell them you have a lot of interest in their work and even better, think of ways you can add value. Try to say something that they would find interesting. In the end, everybody in the industry is looking for interesting or money making ideas, if you have a view on their industry, write in the email. If they don’t reply after awhile, send a follow up with an updated view. It might feel like you are talking to yourself but people do read their emails even if they don’t reply. In any case, you have caught their attention. I have gotten replies from emails I wrote weeks or months earlier.

Sure, out of 10 emails you send, you would probably get 2-3 replies or even someone being a jerk. But remember you are asking for something so that’s normal. If your goal is to be on the sell side, you would end up doing that a lot in your job anyway.

I genuinely believe it is your responsibility to tell the world what you are capable of and not someone else’s responsibility to find out. Don’t let people stop you because if they can then you don’t have true passion so it is better to find something else to do.

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