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Career advice from Goldman Sachs’ global head of recruiting, who’s here to answer your questions

Michael Desmarais, Goldman Sachs’ global head of talent acquisition, has agreed to respond to all your career-related inquiries. You’ve got until Wednesday Oct. 30th at 5 p.m. EST to ask him anything related to the job market, how best to land a job at Goldman and even questions about more general career advice.

Submit your questions in the comment section below, email them to US.Editor@dice.com or tweet them to @BeecherTuttle. We’ll collect the best of the group and come back with Mike’s responses next Monday, Nov. 4.

We sat down with Mike to get the ball rolling with a few questions of our own.

Are there any areas within the firm where you are growing more than others? Any particular locales?

I wouldn’t be able to point to one particular area that is doing more hiring than others. Hiring is generally stable across all of our divisions, but I would say that we have had a focus within our technology division for a number of different initiatives that provide creative solutions to how we and our clients conduct business.

From a skill set standpoint on the campus side, we’re looking to increase the number of candidates that we hire with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in an effort to diversify the skill sets that we bring into the firm. We’re looking to add those backgrounds across multiple divisions.

From a geographical standpoint, we have increased staff in locations like Bangalore, Salt Lake City, Utah and Dallas, Texas.

I’ve heard that a few times – that you are looking to diversify the educational background of your employee base. Why?

We’ve started to focus more on this recently as we are looking to attract a broader talent base to the firm. What we realized is that we need a diversity of thought and a variety of experiences. If you look for just one specific skill set, you give up some of that. To stay competitive we have to offer innovative solutions. That happens best with a variety of perspectives. We want people with different backgrounds who will look for solutions to problems in dissimilar ways. We think that helps us provide clients with a differentiated service.

Have you seen any reduction in students’ interest in banking careers since the crisis? Has it changed for the positive recently?

I don’t think it’s a secret that the industry as a whole saw some backlash following the financial crisis. We’re not immune to that, so yes, we obviously did see the same things that many industry competitors did. I would say that we have seen a change recently though.

The past few years, we’ve seen a robust interest in the firm, as noted by the number of candidates going through the application process. That interest has been reinforced with the time that we’ve spent on campus. We’ve implemented a strategy to make sure people understand what Goldman Sachs does. For us, it’s more than just a sound bite. We want to make sure that we have provided enough content so that people can understand the firm’s businesses and how we contribute to the overall economy, rather than trying to sell them on something. I’d attribute much of the renewed interest to that push.

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How does the culture at Goldman Sachs differentiate from other big banks?

I can’t speak to our competitors but what I can tell you about Goldman Sachs is that we are a flat organization that doesn’t really believe in hierarchy. We provide an entrepreneurial environment that asks people to contribute very early on in their career. You need to be nimble and adaptable to work here, and I think our environment fosters that.

If you had to name a few characteristics that are key to finding success at Goldman Sachs, what would they be?

The ability to work in a very collaborative environment, that’s important. At Goldman Sachs it’s about the whole rather than the individual parts. Intellectual curiosity and a constant desire to innovate are also key.

Any pieces of advice for candidates applying to Goldman for the first time?

What I would say to people thinking about applying is to get to know us. Take advantage of the information that we have made available. We have a robust social media strategy, and there are many venues to find content on the firm. There is our webinar series to explain how the firm works, and we have employee vignettes on our website that detail a day in the life of a Goldman Sachs employee. We’re also on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Youtube.

We want students to have the information they need to make informed decisions. It’s not necessarily about marketing and convincing, but rather empowering people to make the right decisions for them.

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