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Junior Job Hunter: back to basics

In the second of his “Junior Job Hunter” series, our new columnist tells us about the lessons he’s learned in his quest for employment.

Since my last article, there’s been plenty to keep me occupied in my search for security and advancement. After a lengthy battle to find any relevant work within the finance sector, a temping agency found me an initially-short-term back-office banking position.

I seized this opportunity. I was relieved that it had some relevance in the field of risk management given that I was becoming frustrated, doubting my decision to return to Australia from London. It was a relief to have work in some way connected to banking.

Months ago, attracted by a bargain, I planned a quick snowboarding trip to New Zealand in July. In hindsight this was not the smartest thing I have ever done, considering that I had no job at the time, and that taking a week off made me less attractive to potential recruiters.

During this trip I faced a sizeable decision. I was offered a position with a top-ranked US college’s Australian campus to undertake a Masters in Public Policy and Management. As I explained in my previous article, I had spent the majority of my first four months back home researching this course and others.

However, when the offer came, I didn’t feel it was right for me. My passion wasn’t in the public sector. I was offered a 40 per cent scholarship, but after some consultation, I knew I needed to be certain that the return on my still-sizable ($35k) investment would be large enough. It was a simple business decision in the end: the course content lay outside my career scope at that price.

Following my first blog on eFinancialCareers, I was flattered by the number of comments posted. After ruling out studying at KAPLAN in that article, I was challenged by its CEO to follow up on my queries about the course and seek advice directly from him.

Initially I thought this was a joke, but I was pleasantly surprised to be able to sit down and have a coffee with a very talented, positive, humble person who volunteered a wealth of useful knowledge specific to my situation.

Of particular use was his suggestion to go “back to basics”: ring all the major banks I would like to work for; explain my background; state that I am a recent grad who took time out to travel and gain personal experience and am now looking at entering front-office banking; and ask what are the best positions for entry.

This conversation revealed two key points about the fundamental keys to job hunting: firstly, you need relevant experience or study that shows you suit the role (and the required skill set); and secondly, you must demonstrate that you can network, interact and market yourself effectively.

Just picking up the phone and presenting yourself can leave a lasting impact. I discovered this by calling a CEO who in turn offered me a wealth of advice.

If you have an undergraduate degree, and are not working, then the benefits of value-added postgraduate study (something I consider important, not just for the theory, but for the specialist knowledge) clearly outweigh the costs incurred.

From a networking viewpoint, I aim to: talk to as many colleagues/friends about alternatives; call and research banks I would love to work for; and narrow down what positions best suit my skill set, and identify my gaps.

So I’ve had a busy July/August. I aim to make the rest of August and September even busier by using these methods to research, network and explore options for work and study. I’m optimistic!

Comments (6)

  1. I am at a very similar position as you, except that I graduated from a post-grad school. But from my experience, having a post-grad school may make you fall in a over qualification trap. The employer will struggle to make decision of your salary while there are tonnes of undergrads out there looking for job.

  2. i done the diploma in finsia, being a qualified CA i got exmpted from the first 4 units

    when i actually sat down to do the remaining 4 units most of the material was back dated to 2005/2006. woohoo, valuations pre-credit crunch.

    if u want a challenge and something that is actually worth something do the CFA.

  3. Bring me the Kleenex’s. Why don’t you people forget about under grads over grads and post grads and do some work. No wonder you people are unhappy. signed never been to uni!!

  4. So charlie, you don’t recommend the KAPLAN stuff then? what would you suggest for a masters? From what jinjiewei says they are having difficulty settling due to overqualification? and then matty suggests no study at all and working. Matty I’d agree with you if we weren’t in the current climate but if you struggle to get work like i think most of us are, then you need to consider study as an alternative to upskill. if people aren’t willing to give you the chance to learn hands on experience then I suggest saving to invest yourself and looking at study to distinguish yourself from the rest of the pool, it’s a big pool these days? does anyone know anything about UNSW masters in financial analysis?

  5. do a master degree is beneficial trust me
    especially do IT related one like Business Computing because most finance business people don’t know much of business computers

  6. So what is the verdict on the Kaplan Masters? I am halfway through the Graduate Certificate with Kaplan and found it ok so far. I like working in my own time and have found the online lectures to be very informative. It also complements my work in information technology within the finance industry.

    But is it a worthwhile investment, or should I consider an alternative institution after I complete the certificate? How is it valued by potential employers?

    Has anyone done this and found that it opened up valuable career opportunities, or was it a waste of time and effort?


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