Breaking Into Financial Services: 6 Tips to Get Hired Quickly After Graduation

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The financial services industry is changing rapidly.

For aspiring finance professionals approaching or not far removed from graduation, this is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, independent financial advisory firms are actively hiring qualified young people. On the other, applicants need to refresh their skills faster than ever, lest they fall behind nimbler peers.

Still, there’s plenty of opportunity out there for those who know how to seize it. Follow these six tips to break into the financial services industry ahead of schedule.

1. Understand What You’re in For

Many entry-level finance jobs share something in common: long hours.

Really long hours, actually. It’s not uncommon for first- and second-year associates to put in 70, 80, even 90 hours per week, toiling long into the evenings and eating up weekend time. Needless to say, that’s not ideal for family men and women.

If you’re looking for a slower pace with better work-life balance, focus on boutique firms touting laid-back corporate cultures.

2. Know Your Limits

Take a realistic look at your candidate profile and set your sights accordingly. If you’re graduating from a second-tier school with a middling GPA, you’re not going to have your pick of plum opportunities. But that doesn’t mean no one will hire you, as long as you don’t fritter away your resources on long-shot bids.

3. Network, Network, Network

Definitely upload your resume to finance job websites and check local listings regularly.

Just don’t stop there. Search on Google for high paying jobs in finance sector, some of the most fruitful connections in finance come from old-fashioned networking, not glorified cold-calling. Attend as many mixers, job fairs, conventions, and other industry events as you can; every new setting is a new opportunity.

4. Be Prepared to Change Jobs

Not every finance job pans out. Six or eight months into a new gig, you might find that things aren’t quite as promised. And, as in any dynamic industry, layoffs are common in finance too. Be prepared to seek out greener pastures with little notice.

5. Lean on Friends in Finance and Adjacent Industries

Not all networking involves people you barely know. You probably have friends, older classmates, siblings, and other connections who’ve already broken into the finance industry. Don’t be shy about leaning on them for references, internship opportunities, and tips about yet-to-be-posted openings. There’s no shame in landing a job on the strength of a personal connection: everyone does it, as they say.

6. Invest in Additional Credentials

If you’re not gaining the traction you’d expected, consider investing in additional credentials, like a Series 7 license. You’ll build on the already-strong foundation laid by your finance or business degree and open new, potentially higher-paying doors to boot.

How’s Your Financial (Employment) Plan Doing?

You know better than most just how important it is for adults of any age to have a financial plan in place. For aspiring financial professionals, a financial (employment) plan is equally important.

If you’re not yet practicing what you hope to preach, what are you waiting for? It’s time for you to make and implement a plan to find a career-track job in the financial services industry. Once you’re established, you can help those who follow to do the same.