Thursday, November 13, 2008

Overcoming Toubled Times

This is a question someone left on an earlier post. We love seeing your questions and comments; we're happy to help answer any questions our readers have.

From Anonymous:

I would love to hear your thoughts on how to survive if looking for a finance job now... let's face it... if you are beginning the journey in i banking right now... there are a ton of more qualified people to take your spot. What advice do you have for these people?


Dear Anonymous,

Your question is certainly valid as hiring in finance, specifically in investment banking, is down significantly. From everyone I've talked to, many bulge bracket investment banks over-hired from their summer 2008 analyst classes and aren't taking many additional first year full-time hires. This isn't to say that there are no openings available, because there are. Students are still being hired out of college as first year analysts. Things are more competitive than ever and that's why we're here to give you the special sauce so you can knock your interviews out of the park.

If you are a junior, you should be focusing on landing that summer internship. Once you have a summer internship under your belt you are a shoo-in.

When you suggest that there are "a ton of more qualified people taking your spot", I believe you're referring to the thousands of first and second year analysts who have been laid off during the last year. I can't disagree with the numbers, there are more people now chasing fewer finance jobs compared to the recent past. I will point out, however, that analysts who have been laid off aren't necessarily more qualified than you. An unemployed analyst might have better excel skills and might be a more knowledgeable formatting monkey than you are, but you have one advantage over him or her; you are a fresh piece of clay ready to be kneaded and molded that doesn't already have the inevitable scars from analyst work.

It isn't fair to consider the unfortunate analyst bystander who is laid off because his or her bank went under as damaged goods. Not everybody believes that analysts who have been laid off have baggage. But the reality is that some people believe that more liabilities are attached when a firm hires someone who has been laid off by a competitor. I'm speaking in generalities here and do so knowing full well that I am potentially talking about myself.

In short, opportunities exist for graduating seniors today. If you're not finding traction with bulge brackets then explore opportunities with boutiques. If that doesn't work, look for corporate opportunities. Be urgent and commit your efforts with renewed zeal. You can achieve success.


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