It’s too late to apply for a graduate job starting in 2014 at Goldman Sachs. But it’s only a few months before applications for Goldman’s 2015 positions open. And it’s only a few weeks before this year’s Goldman summer analysts turn up in the hope of converting their ten weeks over the summer into a full time job offer.
If you’re a soon-to-arrive intern, or a student who’s thinking of applying to Goldman for 2015, you’ll already know that getting a job at the firm isn’t easy. Each year, 43,000 people apply for junior positions and Goldman Sachs rejects 96% of them. ‘The firm’ is looking for a special kind of person. Excellent academics obviously help. However, Goldman’s senior recruiter in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), says the bank is also looking for people who can, “quickly demonstrate that they work well in the GS culture.”
What is the GS culture? And how can you indicate that you’re a perfect fit? The best summation of Goldman’s culture is provided by its 14 business principles. If you want to get into Goldman, you’ll need to display overt behaviours which fit with these principles, as follows:
1. You must always be thinking about client satisfaction above else
Goldman’s raison d’être and number one business principle is pleasing its clients. If you want a job there, you’ll need to indicate that you’re customer-service oriented. Have you worked in a restaurant or retail environment? Stress what you did to keep the customers happy.
2. You must be thinking about making money for Goldman’s shareholders, not about making money for yourself
Goldman doesn’t want to employ people who are explicitly in the business of getting rich. It wants to employ people who are in the business of enriching its shareholders (and who themselves get rich as a byproduct of this). Emphasize your interest in generating shareholder returns, not your interest in buying yourself a Ferrari.
3. You must emphasize quality above quantity
Goldman wants to do everything to the highest standard possible. It says: “Though we may be involved in a wide variety and heavy volume of activity, we would, if it came to a choice, rather be best than biggest.” On no account suggest you are willing to compromise standards in order to get something done. Goldman does not (seem to) want pragmatists.
4. You must stress your imagination and creativity (when it comes to solving client-related problems)
Goldman isn’t looking for people who are into interpretive dance or creative handicrafts, but it does want creatively-minded people who can think of new approaches to old problems that will earn it plaudits from clients. “We constantly strive to find a better solution to a client’s problems,” it says. Are you a student who’s spent time working in a retail environment? Can you point to any imaginative ways in which you helped facilitate customers’ ‘buying experiences.’ If so, Goldman will like you.
5. You must love working as part of a team
Goldman Sachs does not want loners. If you want to work for Goldman Sachs you must like working with other people. The firm is very explicit about this: “We have no room for those who put their personal interests ahead of the interests of the firm and its clients,” it says.
6. You must be happy to work very hard
You are not right for Goldman Sachs if you like a relaxing life. Goldman prides itself on employing people who are prepared to put in “intense effort” and “dedication.” It says these are greater than at other firms. In other words, if you want to work for Goldman you must be prepared to work harder than at any other bank,
7. You must not say anything horrible about previous employers or other banks
Not saying anything nasty about previous employers is a standard rule of interviewing. If you’re a student, this applies equally to previous places you’ve interned at, your university, and other banks you’ve applied to. Goldman has made not denigrating its rivals one of its business principles. Remember that before you start explaining why RBS is sliding into obscurity.
8. You must be ethical in every way
Goldman says it wants to employ people who are ethical, “both in their work for the firm and in their personal lives.” Yes, one of its partners is said to have paid £500k to persuade his wife to marry him, but this kind of behaviour is probably not a good idea when you’re trying to get a foot in the door.