Job hunting isn’t easy – especially in the ultra-competitive finance industry. Whether you’re putting together a resume, attending recruiting events or interviewing with a hiring manager, there’s a lot of stress involved. Mistakes are pretty common under so much pressure to succeed. But they don’t have to be inevitable.
Michelle Bucaria, head of experienced and campus recruiting for J.P. Morgan – a firm that receives tens of thousands of applications annually – recently sat down with The Independent to discuss the blunders made most often by finance job seekers. As a J.P. Morgan human resources professional since the 1990s, Bucaria has seen it all.
We’ve put her remarks together with a few suggestions of our own to help guide you through the job hunt process and avoid its most common pitfalls.
No matter what role you’re applying for in the finance industry – from accounting jobs to private equity jobs – attention to detail is always essential. That’s why resume typos are a surefire way to raise red flags. How do you prevent such a simple resume mistake?
“Read it,” was Bucaria’s succinct solution. That might seem obvious, but Bucaria said that a surprising number of applicants have never given their resume a good read. So before you submit your resume, give it a few thorough looks. Perhaps have a trusted friend review it for errors as well.
A sloppy resume – or one with the wrong stated objective – can derail your job hunt.
Boxing yourself out with your resume “objective”
Many resumes bear a standard “objective” section. What countless job applicants don’t realize, however, is that a poorly constructed objective can inadvertently box them out of a position. For example, your resume might state a desire to work in commercial banking – thereby indicating that you have no interest in investment banking or other programs.
“That can dismiss you when you didn’t even mean to be dismissed,” said Bucaria. Unless the position you’re applying to has a very specific role, be careful you don’t restrict your possibilities with a firm. You want to leave a variety of roles (and advancement opportunities) on the table.
Overstating your abilities
There are any number of reasons applicants overstate their previous contributions, from anxiety about being under-qualified to accidental communication breakdowns. A simple rule of thumb is this – don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Inflating accomplishments will only come back to haunt you. Bucaria noted that plenty of applicants have stumbled this way.
“Sometimes it becomes apparent that something on the resume seems a little bit better than what you hear in the actual story,” she said. “And somebody might fall down there.”
“There’s more to meeting with a recruiter than just listening – you’re there to make a name for yourself.”
Not speaking to recruiters beforehand
There’s more to meeting with a recruiter than just listening to what they have to say. If you remain silent, Bucaria said, then “Nobody’s walked away with any other different impression of you than when you came in.” You’re going to need to make a bigger impression than that.
“Make sure you’re asking questions – be inquisitive,” she instructed. Recruiting events are a waste if you’re not using them to speak with hiring managers and schedule introductory interviews. Remember that these events are when you will first begin to be evaluated. Make a name for yourself. But be careful not to talk too much – you don’t want to appear showy and put a recruiter off.
Coming to an interview without questions
Do your research. This could be repeated 1,000 times and still not be overstated. Such is the importance of going into an interview with informed, reasonable questions which show you’ve put time into understanding a firm’s business and role in the industry.
“You can’t just come in and ask, ‘Tell me about investment banking,'” said Bucaria. “You have to demonstrate that you’ve done a decent amount of your own research and have thoughtful questions that you want to get answers to.” Inquiries into recent firm acquisitions, programs with which you might work and career path opportunities all show you’re well prepared.
Searching for finance job can prove difficult at times. Don’t make it harder for yourself by committing one of these five job hunting faux pas, especially if you’re applying for a job at J.P. Morgan. To see which employers are currently hiring, take a look at jobs posted on OneWire.