Paul & Dominic's Guide to Getting a Quant Job
This guide is for people looking for their first or second job in Quant Finance, the theory being that after a few years you ought to know most of this stuff.
Making a difference
If the hiring process is working well, the people seen by the bank will be roughly the same quality and from comparable backgrounds. Thus you need to stand out in order to win. We speak to a lot of recruiting managers, and we find that the difference between the one who got the job, and the person who came second is often very small for the employer, but obviously rather more important for you.
You have to walk a line between standing out, and not seeming too much for them to handle.
Unberstanb the process
Interviewing people is a major industry all by itself, multiply the number of applicants by the number of interviews they attend and you sometimes wonder how any useful work ever gets done. Certainly this thought occurs to interviewers on a regular basis. They want it to end, soon, and although it is important to get the right people almost no one enjoys the process, and this is made worse by the fact that >80% of the work is wasted on those you never hire. Thus a core objective must be to make life as easy for the interviewer as possible. This means turning up on time, but not too early, being flexible on interview times, and trying to be pleasant.
What you need to prove
• You are smart
• You can work with people
• You can get things done
• You can manage yourself and your time
• You are committed to this line of work.
Like trying to find a prince by kissing frogs, you have to accept that it is rare for your first attempt to succeed, so you must be prepared for a long haul, and to pursue multiple options at the same time. This means applying to several banks, and not being deterred by failure to get into a particular firm.
Writing a CV
A CV is not some passive instrument that simply tells a recruiter why he should interview you, it also to some extent sets the agenda for the questions you will get when he meets you. Thus it is important to choose what you disclose as a balance between what you think he wants and the areas in which you are confident in answering questions.
Read the job specification
You should think of how you can present your skills and experience so as to be as close a match as possible. At one level this might sound obvious, but you should be aware that in many banks your CV will not be read by the hiring manager at all. Although at P&D we've actually done this stuff, it is often the case that CVs are filtered by people with little or no skills in finance. Often they resort to looking for keywords. Thus you should not rely upon the interviewer working out that if you have done subject X, you must have skills Y and Z. If you believe those skills are critical for this job, then make sure this can easily be spotted. Read the specification carefully, and if it specifically asks for a skill or experience, then include whatever you can to illustrate your strengths. If you believe particular skills to be critical, mention them in your covering letter as well (or if you believe the headhunter is especially dim).
Make sure you can be contacted
Make sure your contact details are reliable and that you regularly monitor the relevant email account(s) and telephones. It is sad when someone's CV shows great promise, but he doesn't respond in time to be interviewed. If you are at university, be aware that your current email address may stop working soon after you complete your course. GMail is to be preferred over Yahoo for a personal email address.