5 mistakes to avoid when finding a job in finance
Are you certain there are finance jobs for which you’d be perfect, though you can’t seem to land an interview or seal the deal? The job hunting and landing process is a complex one. Many elements, from the résumé and cover letter to the follow-up interview, must come together to help you present your best self so you can get the offer you want.
Here are some common mistakes professionals in the finance field make that you should avoid during this process:
1. Trying to go outside your finance vertical
Not to say you have to stay in just one job category for the rest of your life, but when you are looking at new finance jobs, be realistic about what is and is not within your range. “[If] you have done accounts payable for a medium-sized company for two years since graduating college and you go for a CFO job at a large company,” says Jeff Gordon, founder of online marketing agency Interactive99.com, “there’s a good chance you’re out of your vertical. Additionally, if you’re a mutual funds broker at a large company and attempt to go for an accounts payable job at a small company, you’ll mostly be branded as overqualified and
out of scope.”
2. Not fully understanding the job you applied for
Financial consultant and auditor Milton Galeas stresses two things you need to know about a prospective finance job: first, whether it supports the revenue or expense side of the business; second, whether it helps your skill set or just keeps you where you are.
“Finance jobs support two major business areas in an organization: The front end, or revenue, and the back-office, or support side of a business,” he explains. One big mistake people looking for finance jobs make is not learning which end the new job would support. This can cause them to come up short or seem under-informed at the interview.
Further, he reminds job seekers to understand how a new job will add to their existing skill set, not just provide “more of the same.” “You want to make sure you’re always growing and acquiring new skills that increase your marketability as you advance in your career,” Galeas advises.
3. Bombing the phone interview
Though not as popularly discussed as the traditional interview, the phone interview is a common precursor to an in-person meeting. Still, it is not to be taken any less seriously. Especially when it comes to seeking finance jobs outside your region, phone interviews are a common way for companies to go through their first round of questions with potential hires.
Paul Bailo is the CEO of Phone Interview Pro, a company that helps job seekers hone their phone-interview skills. One mistake he says not to make is interrupting the interviewer. “Never interrupt. Silently count to two or three seconds after the interviewer stops talking before you start,” he advises. Similarly, “Avoid saying ‘um’ or ‘ah.’ Try replacing those sounds with a pause. If you are still having trouble you may want to join Toastmasters International.”
And a common mistake most phone interviewees don’t even think of? Not wearing business attire. “Of course the interviewer can’t see you,” says Bailo, “but you won’t feel, or sound, as businesslike in your pajamas and pink slippers.”
4. Not having the wins under your belt
In a world that is ever conscious of the bottom line, it is important to know what your tangible fiscal achievements are, according to Gordon. He elaborates: “You need to show up and be able to explain how you’ve helped your past company and how much money your contributions brought to the bottom line. Yes, sometimes it’s tough for a clerical person to quantify this, but if you’re a loan officer or a financial advisor you can easily tally up your return on investment. Make sure you have it ready and memorized.”
5. Not doing your research on the company
This one might sound simple, but it is among the most important to keep in mind. When looking for finance jobs, you have to do your homework. “It’s so important to research and understand the job prior to interviewing,” says Gordon, “because there are numerous management styles and seemingly infinite tasks across the finance jobs vertical.
“You need to spend at least an hour researching the company prior to an interview and really scope out how your skill set can be an asset to the company’s core set of services,” he suggests. “Make sure you know how you can help before meeting with the hiring manager.”