10 things millennials need to be marketable in finance jobs
The financial sector can be competitive and difficult to break into at the start. I still remember my early years working in the industry; it was fast, overwhelming and exciting all in one. Now, as millennials enter the workforce, they must find ways to set themselves apart from the competition and rise to the top of a very large pile of older resumes.
When looking to add someone to my team, I consider a few key factors. Some are related to their upbringing, but many have more to do with their intangible assets or their ability to have me believe in their stated skills and suitability. Based on the hundreds of resumes that have passed my desk and my own experience in the industry, I have discovered that there are 10 essentials Millennials need to market themselves in finance.
1. An elevator location
While you never know what an interviewer will ask, Millennials should know that one of the questions is almost always, “Tell me a little bit about yourself.” I expect respondents to have a prepared answer to this type of question. Prepare a 30 second pitch about who you are, what you do in your career, what makes you unique and why you are best suited for the job.
2. Knowledge of jargon
A degree in finance or accounting is not required for all finance positions, but knowing the lingo is absolutely essential. Even if you were a student of English or Economics, you will need to understand financial terms and concepts and be able to use them to explain the analysis and rationale. If you’re struggling with the differences between forecasting and budgeting, it’s time to start over.
3. Educational experience
As I mentioned, a degree in finance is not essential, but you must have a solid background in it. Consider signing up for a financial boot camp or continuing proof of identity or postgraduate degree (MBA, MAcc, etc.). This will not only strengthen your resume and help you with the lingo, but will also help you prepare if you decide to pursue a more specialized degree (FINRA titles, etc.).
4. A CV with results
Too often, CVs read like a story of your career path. You highlight what you have done in a few points for each position. After reading 10 of them all the common buzzwords get mixed up. What strikes me most is when a CV serves as a case study explaining your role, the actions you have taken and the impact on the business. Make the date memorable with quantifiable financial results presented in every bullet point. By the way, be prepared to defend yourself and elaborate on these when challenged.
5. Support from a mentor
In particular in the financial sector, mentors can be essential to land the job of your dreams. I have had mentors in the past, and the experience learning from them was invaluable. Search your friends, colleagues or on LinkedIn for someone who will be in the job you want in three, five or ten years. You want this person to be genuinely interested in you and your career development. Offer to buy them lunch in exchange for tips to help you on your career path or how to spice up your resume.
6. An extensive network
In today’s obsessed and connected world of social media, networking is one of the best things you can do for your career. As much as I enjoy my job, I’m always looking to connect with new people in the industry and those with whom I can share my knowledge. You never know who will end up recommending you or introducing you to the person who will hire for the job of your dreams. Remember, networking goes far beyond creating connections on Linkedin. Strive to build real, meaningful, face-to-face relationships with successful professionals.
7. Leadership experience
Every job in the financial industry requires a certain level of leadership. Interviews focus on your ability to take initiatives and excel – and do it without micromanaging or loss. Join a group, company or organization and take on a leadership role if you need more experience to make your eventual transition to leadership a smoother one.
8. A “Roll up your sleeves” attitude
During my years climbing the corporate ladder, I have held many jobs and worked on many projects that I did not necessarily enjoy or consider to be part of my dream career. However, I saw it as paying my dues – my way of getting my foot in the door. Check your ego at the door and consider various positions and routes that can guide you to the job of your dreams, even if that means doing some of the less desirable tasks for a few years. Work hard at the start of your career and it will turn into plenty of opportunities as you gain recognition.
9. A five-year roadmap
It might sound cliché, and it certainly doesn’t have to be for a set period of time, but you need to have a solid understanding of where you are today, where you want to be in the future, and how you want to reach that position. . The more confidence you have in your career path and are able to explain why you are heading in that direction, the more confidence the interviewer will have in your motivation.
10. The communication skills of an English major
I’ve had so many people tell me they got into finance because they hated their English classes. However, the most successful people in the profession I know are those who are strong communicators, both orally and in writing. When going for an interview you need a crisp resume, and when working in finance you need to be able to convey complex information in layman’s terms to those in other departments. Expressing your communication skills is essential to stand out in the world of finance.
Landing your dream job in finance can take years, if not decades. As a millennial, it’s essential that you lay a solid foundation to build on as you advance in your career. Take the time today to make yourself more marketable and stand out from the crowd.