I’m an American in Australia. I took up a job in FMCG company as a non-permanent resident 5 years ago. Working holiday turned into a life-changing move. Now that I am a resident and have more choice, plus a mid-life/quarter life crisis perhaps, I am looking at getting into the IB field. I recently left a very well paying job to get an entry level position at a bank (think superannuation – 401k – pension). I have an interview for a top tier consulting firm in Jan (yet to receive a confirmation email though).
Has anyone had any luck in switching industries or even a job after clearing level 1? Is it worth waiting after clearing level 2? I’ve always had the mindfulness to hire on attitude rather than aptitude in a lot of situations. I see top tier grads coming in not knowing a lot and be given countless more opportunities; rather, I should say I’m baffled at the disconnect between HR and the hiring manager sometimes. When I left my FMCG job I applied to a number of IB jobs where rejection letters came in like the 7am morning report. I’m just seeking help for someone who is late 20s changing industry to get an opportunity in an IB.
I’ve switched industries twice in my career. The process of looking was f**k hard, soul-destroying, ego-crushing for me. The sea of rejection letters is common. In fact there were many during my job hunt that didn’t bother coming back to me. And the ‘feedback’ is never really accurate to be honest. Company policy and liabilities mean that they can never be really 100% honest with you, so I would take their feedback with a pinch of salt. For example, here are some ‘real’ reasons that might lead to a rejection, that have nothing to do with the candidate:
- “We have 50 candidates that have exactly the same qualifications, and we only have 5 interview slots, so we just had the team pick them”
- “We misfiled a job application with HR / forgot to take off this old job listing that was filled 6 months ago”
- “You were actually not the right profile for this job (e.g. too junior, too senior), and our recruiter messed up”
- And so on.
But looking soon and looking hard is still the most effective way to get a new role that I know. The sooner you start, the better.
Having said that, qualifications definitely make it easier. Both times, qualifications helped differentiate and make an impression, but only if your qualification was unique. For your situation, if everyone else applying for the roles you’re applying also cleared L1, then I’d say clearing L2 would put you more ahead of the pack.
The HR gatekeeper issue is unfortunately not uncommon. HR doesn’t really know much about the many, many roles they have to manage, and they just stick to a process. Which sometimes can be as sweeping as ‘cut everyone that has a GPA below X’, or ‘cut everyone that has less than Y years relevant experience’. To get around this, you’ll have to network, i.e. get to know someone on the actual team that is hiring the role (or someone that knows someone), and get them to put you forward. That is the surest way to skip the HR barrier.
It’s definitely more than possible to switch industries into IB. But you’ll just have to be thick-skinned and keep hammering at the brick wall. It will seem impossible at times, but that brick wall will crack at some point.
Thanks for the prompt reply @artyeasel! I’m finding that most jobs don’t get back to me. I believe they do this to keep your resume on file as I had a friend get a call after 6 months from a bank I’ve spent five months on my resume and have friends at top consulting/law firms review it; however, I may think of a different approach as my work experience is not a direct link to finance. Some of the roles I have applied for said I was too senior; ironic given I do not have experience and I explicitly state I am trying to get my foot-in-the-door. Unfortunately, a lot of people in human resources do not know the commitment or value of the CFA exams for entry roles either. Having been in retail for 5 years, people died on week-to-week trading results as a buyer, so there are certain skills that are transferable. I will keep plugging away. Do you recommend contacting prospective firms directly? Currently, I am only applying to jobs on a careers website.
Just to give a bit more background on the ‘too senior’ thing: I do feel that ‘too senior’ is indeed a legitimate worry for employers. In my experience, candidates that I felt were a bit on the senior end tended to get bored quick, and ended up leaving for better roles quite fast (i.e. within a year or two). Remember that they’re looking to fill a role long-term. Even if you don’t have relevant experience, but you might be already earning significantly higher than what they’re willing to pay in your current role. And yes, candidates may be willing to take that pay cut, but they may not feel the same way 6 months into the job. And the employer wants to hire people that stay.
Best way to go about networking is to go through friends of friends. You mentioned that you have friends in top consulting and law firms. Ask around if they know people who work at the firms that you want to apply to. Cold calling may work, but it’s much more effective to go through friends, as they will go that extra mile to do you a favor.
The rarer your method of contact, the more effective. Definitely do more than applying on a careers website.
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