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Tips for Veterans Seeking Banking Careers

With the recent influx of banks looking to hire veterans, including JPMorgan Chase and its participation in the 100,000 Jobs Mission, vets have been looking to start a career in the financial markets.

When Credit Suisse held an event designed to introduce the firm to war veterans seeking jobs, representatives from investment banking and other parts of the firm showed up to discuss career opportunities within their own particular areas of expertise.

Career coach Connie Thanasoulis, co-founder of Career Coaching firm SixFigure Start, heard about the event from a Credit Suisse recruiter who confided that her employer found the military candidates pretty "green," and that bank officials were not terribly impressed with them overall.

Given that "Wall Street really wants to do what it can" to recruit war veterans and bring them up to speed in terms of helping them pursue financial careers, Thanasoulis-a former COO for Merrill Lynch Campus Recruiting who has also worked at Citigroup-offers these tips to veterans interested in a banking career:

1) Emphasize the skills you've fine-tuned during your time in the military.

The following skills are particularly important:

- Leadership

- Planning and strategy

- Action-oriented experience

- Teamwork and communication skills

- The ability to think on your feet

Give clear, concise examples of how you honed those skills and quantify your achievements using them.

2) Network like never before.

"If you've lost touch with your network, as most people do, restart those relationships," Thanasoulis says. "Find folks you went to high school with and ask what they are doing now. Ask if you can meet them for a coffee or lunch or dinner. Let them know you are looking to join a business. Chances are they will know someone."

3) Carefully research the organization(s) where you wish to work.

"Research requires discipline, and we know that veterans have that," says the career coach.

Primary research consists of going online and learning all you can about the company in question, including but not limited to a review of the company Web site.

Be sure to review and think about the company's mission statement, as well as the speeches given by their senior management. That will give you a sense of the culture of the firm in question.

4) Practice interviewing.

It's possible that perhaps the government will provide resources for a mock interview, but if not, this is something in which you may want to invest.

Additional Tips

Finally, here are some more tips from Bank of America's Lewis Runnion, one of the founding members of the Veterans on Wall Street initiative and co-leader of BofA's Metro New York Military Support Affinity Group:

5) Utilize non-traditional networking.

"Most likely you have friends" at the institutions you want to work for, says Runnion. "Identify who might be a champion for you," he says, and don't be afraid to ask one Wall Street professional for a contact at a different bank.

These days, banking competitors will collaborate in finding veterans opportunities, says Runnion. "If there's a candidate we like, we'll [often] arrange an introduction to the other organization."

6) "Civilianize" your military resume.

"Meet with someone in the business world who has a military background and ask them how you can 'decode' your army resume and make it more accessible to the business community," Runnion says.

AUTHORJanet Aschkenasy Insider Comment
  • Da
    Darrell X.
    17 November 2011

    I am in a military mentoring program that helps vets adjust to civilian life, this really helps me answer the questions and know where to point them. Thanks!!!

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