Finding Jobs or Internships

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Finding Jobs or Internships

Locating a job or internship in the financial services industry is a four step process.

Step 1: Self-Assessment

The process begins with a thorough self–assessment. Beginning here is important, because when you know yourself and what you want, your job target will be more focused and you won’t waste time doing searches with no direction. When you consider what is important to you, consider your skill set, your values, your interests, your family situation, and your employment preferences. To assess your skills and interests, you can use a free tool from the Department of Labor called O*NET, available at onetonline.org. It’s important to think about your values before launching a job or internship search, because you will want to choose companies that share your values. In terms of your family situation, you will need to decide where you want to live, and what salary range you are comfortable with, as well as whether a spouse will need a position. Your employment preferences include the size of the employer, the type of employer, the type of work you will be asked to do, and the work environment that interests you.

Step 2: Review Employment Options

When you have completed this self-assessment, it’s time to move on to Step 2, which is gaining knowledge of your employment options. In this step, you will be exploring several aspects of the employment landscape. In short, you are doing industry research so you can begin to narrow your focus. You should start with exploring companies that employ people in your chosen profession. To do this, you can look at industry listings of top companies, such as the Forbes list. You should also have a list of job titles you would like to search. You can begin to explore company human resources websites to see what job titles they are seeking, and how that fits in to what your interests are.

Step 3: Contact Potential Employers

Step 3 involves contacting employers. At this point, once you have a list of employers you are interested in, it might be helpful to conduct some informational interviews with someone in this company. You will learn a lot from talking to someone “on the inside.” In addition, you will be building your network, another key piece to this step. One great way to build your network is to join a professional association affiliated with your career interest area. Associations offer mixers, networking events, and conferences which you should participate in to meet people in your field, who will then become part of your network. Joining a LinkedIn group is also a great way to connect with professionals in your field. Remember, you have a built in network of your own friends and family to start with. Let them know what you are interested in, and see whether they have any contacts in those companies.

Step 4: Prepare Your Job Search Toolkit

You’ve made it to Step 4: preparing your job search toolkit. For example, you’ll need a polished, targeted resume. A targeted resume is superior to a generic resume, because it more speaks more directly to the positions you are applying for. Since you’ve done your company research, as well as research on the job titles that interest you, you can tailor your resume to reflect the research you’ve done. You should try to incorporate industry specific keywords into the resume, as these words will appeal to hiring managers. Targeted cover letters will accompany your resume. One size does not fit all! Each cover letter should directly address the top job qualifications the employer is asking for, and how you can fulfill those duties. Next, you’ll need to do some interview preparation. Interviewing is a skill that must be practiced. You should never go into an interview without practicing your answers to possible questions first. And remember, you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you, so in doing your company research, develop your own list of questions so you can assess whether the company is a good fit for you during your interview. You’ll also need to consider the image you are projecting to potential employers during the job search process. For example, ensure your voicemail greeting is professional. Invest in a conservative interview suit. Make sure your hair and nails are groomed and not too trendy. Last, you should develop some kind of record keeping system, so that you can keep track of where you sent applications, whether other documents need to follow, when you interviewed and with whom, whether thank you emails were sent, and when you will next follow up.

By allowing these four steps to guide your job or internship search strategy, you are well on your way to connecting with an opportunity to advance your career!

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