The key to landing that first job in financial services is to see you from the employer’s point of view. What do you bring to the table? As you write your resume, ask yourself if each item is presented in a way that shows your value to the employer. When you network, be sure your elevator speech mentions what you can do for the company that hires you. Remember – it’s not about you. It’s about the company’s needs.
Banks tend to be very selective about who they hire. When the industry is under pressure and cutting back, insitutions ease up on student recruiting, making it even less likely that if your major isn't math, finance or economics, you will be hired.
Beyond a good internship experience, you'll also need to do a ton of research so you know what's going on in the markets generally and be able to describe why you're interested in joining a particular firm. Academically, the better your GPA, the better your chances of landing the job. But academics alone won't get you an offer. Your goal should be to strike a good balance between academic credentials and interpersonal skills such as leadership and teamwork.
Showcase your leadership roles on and off campus along with how you've taken on responsibility and have been able to complete tasks. That what-I-can-do-for-you attitude needs to show up in all your networking communications as well.
Networking remains the best way to get a job. Start with what your school has to offer, but don't stop there. Use all of your connections, alumni, parents and peers already in the market. Have you networked with alumni who are working where you want to work? And don't forget those on campus interviews with recruiters.
The second most important element to the search is the way you express your value proposition, which is corporate speak for how you show your value. You do this by having a solidly built foundation, with classes that led to a major relevant to Wall Street and an internship in investment banking. You need to be able to explain why banking is the right career for you.
You also need to be aware that a career in the financial markets is not all glitz and glamor. A typical week for starting investment banking analysts is 80 to 90 hours. Some people love it, but that is a rare breed. If the hours and the challenge of actually finding a job in investment banking don’t scare you off, remember that someone is going to get hired – and it might as well be you.