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What's the hardest part of your job search?

Many of you regulars in the community took CFA for various reasons, mostly job/career related (e.g. @james010, @Reena, @sidmenon, @diya, @Maroon5, @AjFinance etc). I'm interested to hear about your search experience so far, and what (if any) we could do to help?


  • For us fresh grads, it's getting a job (you want) in such a climate!

    As we are all in different locations across the world, I don't even know where to begin or how 300hours can help... perhaps a CFA-focused job board by location?
  • Usually I come across job postings that ask for CFA and a Masters level education (usually MBA). Quite a few times, they look for "relevant" work experience. This makes it difficult for me alongwith my Back office experience. I use online job postings, people I know, CFA Jobline (Both Global as well as the ones the Local Society lists). I must say and I've heard that CFA Jobline is more useful for people with relevant work experience.
  • @AjFinance, what about Linkedin? is it widely used where you're from?
  • I do use it in the sense that I get the local CFA society job postings through linkedin newsletters. There are also other groups that I joined but most of the jobs are senior level or require relevant work ex. No luck yet. @Maroon5 would be great if you have any pointers on how to go about using linkedin more effectively.
  • My search experience has been extremely frustrating. Recruiters say that my resume is solid and I have the needed motivation and talent to break into the world of finance but I can't see to get my foot in the door. After I few months I've become discouraged but since I can't fathom doing anything else I refuse to give up. I've also had many interviews and the feedback is good so I don't understand what I am doing wrong
  • @Diya at least you get a feedback. I didn't receive a feedback in most of the cases. Don't get discouraged, I guess its a part and parcel of job searching in finance. Just look at it this way, When you finally land a job that you want, you would know its value more than anyone else who got their foot in easily. And when you do get to something that was denied to you earlier, you plain and simple "own it". ;)
  • @AjFinance, I use the job search filtering function in LinkedIn. @diya, that may be helpful for you too to filter by foreign locations?
  • @Maroon5 thanks man. I'll also check out the foreign locations tab.
  • With my degree i felt i would never get a job that i wanted, in an area of my interest. That's why i decided to study a crap load like CFA, my MSc and then an eventual MBA. Phew, that's a lot!
  • @diya @ajfinance I've been on the other side quite a few times (i.e. as an interviewer). Sometimes the old adage is really true - there are tons of really good candidates and you only have one extra headcount. Other 'not your fault' reasons could be:
    - pressure to hire internally
    - sudden hiring freeze, or team reshuffle (in smaller companies this is v common!)
    - position already filled but recruiter screwed up / job posting not removed (obviously embarrassed to tell you the real reason!)

    Job searching is very trying - I rank it as one of the toughest experiences of my life. You will get a payoff though. With each interview you just get better and better and interviewing, so it can only get better and better, albeit not as fast as you'd like (would it ever?)
  • christine said:


    Man, I thought it was gonna be Chocolate Cheese Cake! Bummer.

  • One of the symptoms of job hunting is that I am having severe trust issues. I don't believe a thing the HR dept tells me anymore. Or recruiters or anyone else in the whole job hunting process....
  • @diya @ajfinance completely agree. I believe there are a few truths in this universe. And one of these truths are: never trust headhunters. Or real estate agents.
  • well, headhunters aren't working in your interest really. Especially if you want to change roles/careers. They are all about "oh ok you've done A, lets put you in another role doing A", why bother trying B?
  • Maroon5 said:

    well, headhunters aren't working in your interest really. Especially if you want to change roles/careers. They are all about "oh ok you've done A, lets put you in another role doing A", why bother trying B?

    I haven't used any recruiters but a point to be made from @Maroon5 's post, you will get many more responses applying for jobs that fit your experience. One idea is to apply for a role similar to your current position at a company that may allow you to transition to the role you eventually want. For example, applying for a performance analyst role at J.P. Morgan with the intent of switching over to their equity research department.

  • Fair enough @Dollarstodonuts, I guess I'm a bit idealist and just want to go straight for the role I want. Fair point if the career change is too different though.
  • I got my last job in June 2012 through a recruiter that contacted me through LinkedIn. Most recruiters I spoke to were rubbish, however this one was exceptionally helpful and I have recommended her to other people I know.

    I was probably looking for my next job for about 9 months before getting this one. The problem you have at the moment is a contracting industry and a surplus of people looking for work. I read a stat in CityAM (free London finance newspaper) that in 2012 there were on average 19 suitable applicants (and no doubt many more unsuitable ones!) applying for each available job in the city. This compares with 3-5 pre the crisis. On that basis your about 5 times less likely to get a job now than before.

    Add that to that the fact that you will be up against people with a lot more experience, which was the main problem I found. I was going for internal interviews for a promotion, and was told I was an excellent candidate but that someone else just edged it as they were making a sideways/downwards move and had several years experience which I did not have. This is what makes it difficult for young high flyers (which most of us i think are) who want to progress. In good times people will take a chance on you, but when cuts are being made all over the place then employers want as much experience as they can get.

    The key is to keep applying and hope you get lucky. When the economy finally shifts back to a bullish growth phase (which it always does) there will be opportunities, and they aim is to be in the right place with your CV ready to take full advantage of these when they appear. No doubt there will be a further glut of graduates around by then, which is why it is imperative to stand out with achievements like being a CFA candidate or Charterholder.

  • Wow, thanks @MattJuniper, great insights. How's life in Channel Island like? I have never been there (despite being so near) but would imagine there's quite a huge industry there. It's hard times and probably no better time to upgrade yourself. I did that too at the beginning of this crisis and it paid dividends.
  • Thanks @Sophie.

    I'm enjoying the Channel Islands, although it's very different to London! I basically decided to come out here because of the dire job situation in The City...managed to get the promotion and responsibility I was seeking, and the favourable tax isn't too bad either! It also adds 'offshore banking' to my CV too :)

    The Channel Islands also punch massively above their weight in the finance industry too. Guernsey only has a population of 60,000, but in terms of the industry it has:
    £97bn of bank deposits
    £274bn of funds under management
    154 Fiduciary Licences
    737 Captives/Cells

    Definitely adds another string to my bow!

  • Sounds like a good move @MattJuniper! Seeking new roles and responsibilities does take time but it looks great for CVs in terms of new and complementary experiences. Tax benefit is a big plus too!
  • My biggest problem is that I have a 2.2 degree (which I admit is my fault). It basically means that although I am a graduate, for most graduate jobs in finance, I cannot apply/am filtered out by a computer. I went through a phase for about a year of applying to banks/asset managers that required a 2.1 but never got anywhere so I have come to the conclusion that this strategy doesn't work. Why would they bother when there are literally thousands of others with a better number next to their name.

    I would say the rejections are tough as well but I actually don't get many! Most companies never reply/acknowledge applications. Also I really try not to get too excited when I do manage to get a lead as they never usually go anywhere.

    I actually have quite a funny story about networking where basically I met a guy at a party and asked if he wanted to meet up in the city for a drink/coffee as I was really interested in his company/ job, and he said there may be an opportunity for me. He was slightly camp but I was too busy foaming at the mouth dreaming of finally getting my ticket to greatness at a big ibank to realise what was going on. So anyway a week or so later I am invited to quite a posh bar in the city. I thought it was strictly networking but it turned out to be a gay date of sorts. Was basically wined and dined for a few hours, pretty sure he was coming on to me. I declined any offers of further entertainment. Sent my CV/ covering letter but haven't heard anything since. Oh well, that's the trials and tribulations of a wannabe cityboy! LOL.
  • @james010, thanks for sharing your stories with us. I must say the date night bit was funny! But we all have that moments in life...

    It's true that in London the HR dept has pretty much go for 2.1 and above as initial screening, purely due to sheer amount of applications and this was one easy criteria to implement. Have you tried smaller boutique firms? Getting relevant experiences there (trading) for a few years will definitely help your case.

    No doubt the market is super tough now, but I'm glad you're not giving up hope and improving yourself with the CFA!
  • Thanks for sharing the story @james010 . I have experienced the same things as you described there. I mean the part about companies not acknowledging applications. I guess most of the times its comes down to "Relevant Experience", I've heard it from loads of people. Maybe something to do with the Operations background of mine. Just keep on pushing, keep working hard at CFA and hope that it can tilt things in your favour. Well at least help in not being filtered out.
  • Yeah relevant experience is such a catch 22. Can't get a job without experience that you can only get from the job that you can't get!
  • The hardest part of my job search is drumming up resistance to rejection. It's not fun at all.
  • @jimmy, @james010 - they are part and parcel of job search though. it was demoralising at the start, but one has to have ultra thick skin in job search!
  • I also find the worrying about not being in a good career pretty bad. When I tell my friends work in a bank in London they all assume I must be doing pretty well but the truth is I am just surviving in a really low level administrative role.I find myself constantly worried about this and it's always in the back of my head.
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