The CFA charter is a great career enhancer in the right industries, and when utilized to its full potential. Although it is challenging to attain, if you are well prepared with a good study plan, it is perfectly possible and will significantly boost your career.
That said, does CFA help you get you a job or guarantee one?
No. A CFA charter does not equal to a job. Much as we’d like it to. But there are things you can do to increase its job-hunting potential. The CFA charter is NOT a magic bullet to get you your ‘dream job’. No qualification is.
A lot of candidates may think that having more qualifications somehow give them a magical boost in their job search and the offers will start flowing in. So a common mistake, especially for those new to job-hunting, is to focus on resume-building, which is only part of the solution.
Landing a desired job is a 3-step process:
- networking increases your chances and knowledge of job roles,
- your CV gets you the interview, and
- nailing the interview gets you the job offer.
This is true for 99% of all job roles offered – invest in being awesome at interviewing and networking, as well as building your CV.
Here’s how to utilize your CFA status to its full potential.
The CFA charter is not a mandatory qualification
By ‘mandatory’ we mean a qualification that is absolutely needed before you can even apply for a job, like a medical degree before you cut someone up on the surgical table. In fields where this is true, sometimes you can get offered a job simply because you’re qualified.
The CFA charter, while a respected accreditation, is not a technical requirement for any job. But in many roles in finance it is increasingly common (and preferred) to the point of ubiquity.
That’s not to say that the CFA charter is not worth your time
The CFA charter may not guarantee you a job, but it still helps a lot:
- It’s a testament from CFA Institute that you have a high level of investment, asset management and ethics knowledge.
- It is especially relevant industries such as asset and investment management, private wealth, equity research and investment banking. It can still be useful even if you don’t end up in the finance industry.
- It can boost your knowledge of the investment industry significantly in just 3 years, and the CFA exams provides a perfect template to test your knowledge.
- It gives your CV an edge over the others in some cases, and will help your credentials and your work performance.
If you’re looking to address these, we would absolutely recommend the CFA charter.
Don’t pad your resume, be good at job-hunting
The most desired jobs will always be hotly contested for. CFA charters are part of the CV arms race (together with Harvard degrees, MBAs and all the rest) and will make you stand out if no one else has it, but in the end, quite often the most difference you can make is to master the art of networking and acing interviews.
Being a master interviewer and networker pays huge dividends, because it is an essential part of the job hunting process that that most people don’t concentrate on, and that makes you stand out.
Banish your fear of rejection
We know it’s not fun, getting rejections or feedback on why you sucked at your last interview, or prepping your CV and background knowledge on another firm for the nth time.
Facing rejection after rejection can be one of the most soul-crushing experiences you’ve had. But these are essential skills that you have to learn if you want to succeed at job hunting. What’s more, these are very valuable skills that will help you continuously throughout your career, so the sooner you pick these up the better!
It’s true that obtaining a CFA charter or an MBA opens up new professional networks & more opportunities, but again your networking skills will be key – without them you’re still going to draw empty. No one is going to go ‘oh, this candidate has a CFA charter/MBA/whatever, let’s just give him the job’.
More tips on job hunting
So where should you go from here? While obtaining your CFA charter, brush up on your job-hunting skills with our guides below:
Building A Killer CV
- How To Write A Good Resume: 11 Actionable Tips
- How to Display Your CFA Program Status on your CV and LinkedIn
- Are Professional Resume Writing Services Worth It? Here’s Our Verdict
Interviewing Like A Champ
- How to Prepare for An Interview: 3 Steps to Secure Your Job Offer
- 7 Steps to Acing Your Phone Interview
- 6 Tips to Landing Job Interviews with Your Current CFA Program Status
Becoming A Networking Ninja
Although not a magic bullet, the CFA charter can be an important career enhancement. How has studying or acquiring the CFA charter helped your career? Share your experience with us below!
2 thoughts on “Does CFA Help? Maybe, But It’s Not a Golden Ticket to Jobs”
Hi AJ Replied to your question, but reposting here for the others: Firstly, I wouldn’t count out your work experience just yet. The work experience bit isn’t set in stone – I managed to argue my case for my experience in advertising and internet tech count as work experience, so much is possible. Have a careful look at what they’re looking for and craft your application (when you pass Level III) and you might be surprised. It’s unfortunately true that the longer you stay in a non-related role, the harder it is to break into the role. The good news, however, is that if your true objective is to break into investment management, wealth management or some other CFA-related role, you can start now. Networking and interviewing are the single-most important things to getting a job, and the fact that you’re currently pursuing the CFA will also help (obviously better if you already passed all exams, but ‘currently pursuing’ also helps a lot). My advice in this area is to consider joining the CFA society in your area and volunteer for anything you can. It is easier to get on boards and committees of local CFA societies that you think, and you don’t need a CFA charter to do so. Once there you will find yourself with network access to a whole bunch of connected people in the right industries. Try this and let me know how you get on. The average age used to be higher, but recently it’s dropping. I’d say the range of late 20s to late 30s is the norm. CFA is definitely globally recognised, and is generally more helpful in developing countries (& perhaps US/Canada) than say, Europe. As to whether the CFA enhances your international mobility – again, it’s a small factor in a very complicated question – more important factors would be the opportunities you seek for yourself. I am currently working on a project to analyse CFA results – be sure to participate in my project on CFA results day (24th July) and tell everyone you know to do so as well!
Thats a great article. Really helpful the way you have put things into perspective. I have a question though. Not sure if I am posting it under the right category. I have been working in back office finance role for the past 4 years(my first job). Those 4 years of work ex. most likely count for nothing when it comes to the charter(which greatly demotivates me). Also, I took my Level 2 CFA exam last month. Is it true that the longer I stay in a back office role, the harder it becomes to change over to a profile thats more relevant for CFA? Whats the average age of ppl who earn the CFA charter? CFA being a global designation, how helpful is it when it comes to international mobility for charterholders and non charterholders?