Troubles finding a job in Finance?

So how hard is it really to find a job?  How many applications does it take to get an interview?  I thought I would share my experiences with you and give you some numbers.  It would be great if you could share your stories below in the comments section.

As I talked about in my post, “Changing your Strategy to Land a Finance Job” my resume simply put is:

  • Education
    • BComm in Finance with Honours (GPA = 3.830)
    • Passed CFA Level 1 Exam
    • Passed 1st CSC exam and on track to complete certificate by end of august 2012
  • Work Experience
    • Timbre Kin – Entrepreneur
    • RCG Insight – Senior Consultant
    • Ryerson University – Research Assistant
    • Spring Masters Canada – Sales Associate

Since May 2011, I have been applying for jobs throughout Canada.  The job search was affected by me being diagnosed in May 2011 with Ulcerative Colitis, which had me in the hospital seven times between May 2011 and April 2012.  So the search has been put on hold many times because of medical reasons, but I was still able to send out many applications.  I’ve since had surgery that has technically cured me from UC, so the past two months has been a more focused job search with less interruptions.

Going through each resume on my computer, the total number of jobs applied to equals 69.  Each resume is tailor made for each position as well as the cover letter.  Organizations applied to include: BMO, TD Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, RBC, CIBC, Agrium, Freedom 55, Primerica, Province of Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba, Native Reservation Bands, Niagara Hotels, Herbal Magic, Loblaws, various investment firms, Kelloggs, various accounting firms, various credit unions, CPPIB, CMHC, various hospitals, Talisman Energy, Sun-Life Financial, Just-Eat, London Police Service, EMCO Corp, and numerous others.

So how many interviews were gained from these applications?  Two: one from Freedom55 and one from Primerica.  Both of these jobs were financial planner positions.  And both these positions’ compensation was strictly commissions based.  I ended up not going with these companies because of the pay structure.  I would need to have ongoing planning services with about 50 families to make around $25,000 per year.  The job is heavily sales focused and you are limited to using company selected mutual funds and segregated funds as investments for customers, which are both vehicles that I am not a big fan of (I will possibly discuss this in a later blog).  Another concern with me is that these jobs are also big pushers of life insurance.  I’m still not sure how I feel about life insurance.  I’m sure it’s a great choice for some people, but not for everyone.  Basically, I don’t want to be an insurance agent, it just doesn’t excite me.  There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just not for me.

Now, I don’t want to be that negative person.  I don’t want to blame my job search on the market, foreign talent, people who are connected, or on my grandmother for going back to work.  But, there is a problem here.  I am not getting interviews despite having a decent resume.  So where to go from here?

Well first I asked myself, do I have a decent resume?  I found three colleagues who I trust and feel are wise when it comes to giving advice.  I asked them to look over my resume and cover letter to tell me where I can approve.  It turns out my resume wasn’t as great as I thought.  With their recommendations, I ended up changing many of my bullet points to include hard numbers and examples of how I added value, not just explaining what I did. I added some critical skills I had left out (I only had computer based skills before). And I worked with the white space to clean it up and fit it onto a page and a half.  The cover letter also described instances where I shined, not just preaching about myself.  In the end I think my resume improved significantly.

So I sent out more applications.  So far no call backs, but it has only been a couple weeks.  But I figured there is still room for improvement.  The next thing I wanted to tackle was my experience.  I have some good experience.  I ran my own business, I was a business consultant, I worked with a research project, and I excelled in a sales position.  But, the big elephant in the room is that I haven’t worked for a financial firm.

Now the next month or so will be dedicated to finding an intern position, paid or unpaid, with a financial institution.  I want to get the proverbial “foot in the door”.  I am going to start by researching CFAs in my area, London, ON, and ask if I can help them in any way possible.  The next step would be to use those connections/experiences and apply for internships with bigger companies.  Hopefully within a couple years of interning with various sized companies, I will be attractive enough to land a good entry-level job.

Yeah, that’s right, A couple years.  I have no doubt that this will be a slow process.  It may be five years before I am in a job that I’m getting paid to do and that I love.  Being 28 this seems scary, but it also seems realistic.

I also plan to keep up my continuing education by working on the CFA and working towards the CIM as well.

It’s going to be a long and hard road, but that’s what a journey is.

Thanks for reading and good luck out there!

Have a story about applying for jobs?  Was it easy or hard?  Have comments about this post?  Share in the comment section below!

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