Ever wondered, while filling out yet another application, exactly what it is that employers who hire for finance jobs are looking for? We've got the answer—or rather, all the top-level CEOs that OneWire has recently interviewed do.
OneWire CEO Skiddy von Stade interviews major executives regularly, and asks them what they look for in candidates for hedge fund jobs and other sought-after positions. Some top responses and advice are collected below.
1. Just because you didn't start in the finance industry doesn't mean you can't get a job in it
"People who need to employ capital are looking for how you're going to improve a business. Not how you're going to engineer a return, not whether or not you're going to time markets [so that you can] buy low and sell high. They want to see what you're going to bring to a business, operationally. What is it that you are going to do to enhance management and enhance the business, to grow the business. That kind of background, training and apprenticeship does not necessarily have to come out of the financial world … we would consider somebody that found summer jobs working on rigs, and things like that. There is more acceptance of diversity of experience [than there has been in finance in previous years.]"- Charlie Ayres, partner and chairman, Triatlantic Capital Partners
2. Be competitive, but don't politic or posture. Hiring managers have no patience for such behaviors.
"I have no patience for internal politics and I have no patience for negativity. I want culture carriers, I want people who are team oriented, I want people who put the firm first. Who put their teams first. People for whom it's never about them, or their [specific] interests." – Tony James, president and COO, Blackstone
3. Don't just show off your skills—show off your competitive streak and your desire to be the best
"I think there are a lot of ways to be successful. A lot of different traits that can lead you to a great career. There are people who are extraordinarily intellectually gifted. There are people who are enormously creative. There are people who outwork everywhere else. But I think what everybody shares is a competitive streak." – Jeffrey Leeds, president and co-founder, Leeds Equity Partners
4. Passion and being intensely motivated is much more important than grades or smarts
"Give me a break—what difference does it make if a guy is smart or not? The only difference between smart people [and others] is that [smart people] are more fun to be around. You've got to have drive. Look at Warren Buffet. What a drive that man has! The drive you have, whatever it may be … behind everybody that is successful, there is a drive." – Bill Comfort, former chairman, Citigroup Venture Capital
5. Weather any criticisms you face during your interview—interviewers may be testing your resolve!
"I'm looking for someone who acts a little beyond their years. If I feel like this guy or this women [applying to work for me] has something special, I'll try to do something to unnerve them, I may question some of their skills, just to see how they react to it. If they can react with an air of hunger, humility, and real tenacity, then I find that irresistible. If you're smart enough, humble enough, and hungry enough, then there is still a place where you can make something happen [for yourself] on Wall Street." – Jimmy Dunne, co-founder, Sandler O'Neill