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Job search with little experience

Mathrio

New Member
Hello forum,

I'll be blunt, i'm coming here for advice as i'm not really sure what do to anymore.

A little bit of story and background first.

I'm 25 and I graduated back in April of 2013. My bachelor was in business administration but I prefer to say finance as that was my major. I'm not gonna lie, my grades weren't the best and at that time I wasn't as serious about my studies as I have been for the past year and a half.

I knew for sure that I wanted a career in finance, although not sure in what particular sub-field. With that in mind I decided to take the CFA exams, I passed the first one and will be writing the second one in June of this year. Also, as of last week I have passed both parts of the FRM exam.

This opened my mind to a lot of stuff that I didn't even know existed. I now have a better idea of what I want to do for a career but I have no idea where to look for it. I'm a bit cursed in my job search because not only did I not have good grades back in university (B minus average) I've also only worked in call centers my whole life. In fact, I have spent the last year working in the call center for a transfer agent here in Canada. This makes it hard for me to apply to jobs that are actually meaningful for the FRM designation experience requirements (the HR people see my call center experience and just put me in the reject pile, it's my best guess for why i'm not getting any call backs).

I want to find a job where I can prove myself and move up the ranks (my last job was a dead-end type deal). I've been applying at all of the big banks in Canada, most of the big companies like Telus, Bell, Hydro-Québec, etc etc. I feel like there is no way for someone with no prior experience in risk management to actually land a job in risk management.

This brings me to my question that I want to ask to you all risk management job seekers. Where do you look? What's the best way to approach an interview when all you know about the field is theory? Are there any websites that list only jobs for new graduates or people with little experience? Is it appropriate to go to a business in person and ask to speak to a manager and discuss employment opportunities? Should I start doing work on my own so that I have something to show?

I just don't know where to look or how to look anymore.

Thank you
 

frm_risk

New Member
First of all, congratulations for passing both the parts of the FRM exam! It is not an easy feat.

Regarding your job search, I can understand how frustrating it might be for someone to "break into" finance. I am not from Canada (I'm in New York) and don't know how exactly things work outside the US, so a lot of my answers might not be applicable to the Canadian job market.

Here are a few things I would suggest:
1. GARP Career Center: Upon passing both exams, I received an email which indicated that I can sign up in the GARP Career Center, where special jobs are posted. You can upload your resume there as well. Although you haven't received the certification yet, you can always say that you passed both FRM exams and are an "FRM Holder". There could be certain companies that are looking for entry-level positions.
Even I passed the Part 2 exam last week, so I don't know how well this works. It might be worth-trying.

2. Your alumni network: Try reaching out to your alumni network. If your university has an alumni website, there will be some alumni who are in hiring manager positions at various companies. Generally, alumni have a soft spot for applicants from their own universities.

3. Graduates from your own class: You studied business administration/finance. You surely must know a lot of students from your class. In all likelihood, a lot of them probably work in finance. Check with them to see if they are aware of any positions in any of their companies or their friends' companies.

Believe it or not, #2 and #3 actually work. A lot of companies have a referral program and many employees are willing to refer their friends in the hopes that the friend gets hired and they get a referral bonus (and get to help a person they know) by not doing much. If you are referred to by an employee, it is almost always guaranteed that your resume will actually get some consideration (instead of being directly thrown in the "reject" pile).

4. Your university career center and career fairs: Since you graduated not too long ago, check with your university's career center if they are aware of any positions for entry-level candidates. Since a lot of college graduates have very little experience, you are not too different from them. Companies that contact universities for these positions have entry-level positions. You might still be eligible to attend your university's career fairs. Some of the companies there would be interested in filling up open positions immediately (something current students cannot do, since they are still in college) and you could fit right in!

5. Networking events: Attend financial networking events in your city/nearby. A lot of universities, financial associations, including GARP, have chapters in major cities. They hold a lot of networking events where you could meet newer people working in the industry and check with them regarding open positions they might know of. Try genuine "networking" instead of just job searching at these events. Most people are out there to talk and mix with others. No one wants to feel like they are being "used" (i.e. spoken with) just because the other person thinks they can give them a job.

I understand that you want to work in risk management, but a job in finance (just to "get your foot into the door") could also prove useful. If you are still interested in risk management, you could always switch, once you get a good finance job.

Try to focus on demonstrating passing the FRM exams ("FRM Holder" status) and the CFA Level 1 exam more than your college grades.
Although you work at a call center, it is at least a call center in the financial domain. In your resume, you could highlight your customer service and communication skills and financial knowledge used on the job. A lot of entry-level positions in finance require good communication, problem-solving and customer service skills – these are skills you developed at the call center position.

Even if #2 and #3 do not work out, you could at least have some of the hiring managers from your alumni network review your resume and give you good pointers. Each industry and each country is different. Resume standards and formats differ in each country. Since they review lots of applicants, they can give you an honest opinion about your resume (and your background).

Given your background, I would suggest aiming for smaller companies and start-ups, instead of the bulge-brackets and multinationals (who won't be so considerate). A lot of (financial) start-ups require operations-type of personnel. You could get into a financial start-up as an operations person and work your way into finance (and risk management) through that route.

"I want to find a job where I can prove myself and move up the ranks"
– You will get there, have some patience. You may have to work your way through a job or two in the industry, before you find your dream position.

"Is it appropriate to go to a business in person and ask to speak to a manager and discuss employment opportunities?"
– I would say, "No." Most likely, you won't be able to enter the office of any firm just by walking in. Security guards won't let you in. Random emails and phone calls could be met with rejection. Managers (and all other employees) are generally busy. Most managers would not want to be contacted by a complete stranger and then spend time discussing with them; they have work to do. They would not mind speaking with you, if you met them at a networking event (see item#5 above), but during work hours, no one likes to be disturbed from their schedules for the day.

Good luck!
 

Mathrio

New Member
Hey there @frm_risk,

Thank you very much for your response. I will definitely try to broaden my network.

I think you're right in the sense that I need to get my foot in the door somewhere. I'll try harassing the big banks here in Canada some more.

Thank you.
 
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