There are many keys to getting a job in finance, an industry currently in the toilet, albeit a gilded one that does not stink. If you are failing to find a new job or Lehman let you go or Bear bade bye-bye or Goldman gave you a golden parachute or RBS rended you redundant or Credit Suisse cut you loose or you work at B of A, then read on to equip yourself with the paddles you will need in order to navigate shit creek.
The first key is nepotism, or any relationship that transcends logic and reason. If your desired employer is your father, your mother, or a blood relative, or your father is the head of a powerful financial firm, or the former President of the United States, or you are a member of the same secret society as your potential employer, these things will likely secure you a job. Kudos.
Barring nepotism, you may have to fallback to what we call “Actual qualifications” which include past quality work experience at a prestigious (but suitably similar) firm, outstanding marks in your education at a top ten institution and excellent demonstrable abilities (like the ability to jump seventeen feet into the air if you want to work for a basketball firm or the ability to devise opaque pyramidal trading strategies if you want to work for a market-making/investment advisory firm). These things are mostly out of your control at this point, and they are difficult to maximize ex post.
But you do control the next key, differentiation. Although mostly just a euphemism for “don’t be coastal white male from a top fifteen school”, other differentiation is achievable with the right combination of savvy, research and sticktuitiveness. Also gumption. With the economic backdrop of the Great Regression and a hugely competitive job search environment in finance, differentiation becomes all the more important.
One example of differentiation is to “be a woman”.
Another example of differentiation is to come to your interview dressed in a way that says you are an especially serious person who would become an especially serious employee. If a man, this means a well-fitted suit, a bold but elegant tie/shirt combination and a unifying theme that conveys assured sartorial command. If your expected interviewer is a woman, it’s ok to tell your tailor to tighten the fit in your lower mid-section — the woman would likely like to know just what kind of employment package she can expect from you.
If a woman and the expected interviewer suffers similarly, this means dressing in a way that is both smart and sexy. A Theory pantsuit with a crisp Pink shirt underneath, pearl earrings, and a bag & shoe combination that looks brand new is a combination that will put your best foot forward into that employment door. If the expected interviewer is a man, a tasteful teddy will ensure that they take you literally and a set of Prada glasses will make you seem smart. Smart and sexy.
Besides what you wear, you can differentiate yourself by what you are willing to do. Will you step into a boxing ring with a senior trader who is wearing brass knuckles, if asked? What about drink 4 gallons of milk in thirty minutes or eat 35 McDonald’s cheeseburgers? After the markets close, will you push a broom to help on facilities costs? If a woman, will you sleep with your boss? If an attractively girlish looking man with soft hands and features, will you sleep with your boss with the lights off? Increasing what you are willing to do is an out-of-the-box blank check that a potential employee can give their potential employers as incentive towards being hired.
The last key for you to be left with is to never put anything meaningful, or that you spent time on, or that is actually value-add, after the 600 word mark (or in resume terms, the first page), because frankly, there is little chance anyone is paying attention to you anymore. It’s a great time for a corny joke, or a non-sequitur, but little else. If you, or your idea, cannot fit within 600 words (or in resume terms, one page), than you, or your idea, are most likely preposterously awful.