Job Search Strategies For CFA Candidates

Most CFA candidates assume that once they clear CFA Level 1,2 or 3, companies will line up to offer them a job. It is only natural to be high on confidence because of the effort that goes into clearing each level. However, there is a difference between reality and perception and the idea behind this article is to bridge the gap and ensure CFA candidates do not get complacent in their job search efforts.

Competition is increasing and so is the number of candidates appearing for and clearing the exam. Companies today have a lot of options and therefore a candidate that excels not only in financial knowledge, but is also proactive in job search has a higher chance of getting selected.

A large percentage of job openings listed on portals are closed not through online applications, but through CVs received by HR department from internal and external contacts. In addition to applying for jobs online, a few strategies that can increase the probability of finding a job for CFA candidates are listed below:
· Alumni Network
· CFA Institute – Local Chapters
· CFA Coaching Classmates
· Placement Consultants
· Friends and Family

Alumni Network:

Every institute that you have attended has an alumni network, either on Facebook, LinkedIn or Whatsapp. Look for contacts that work in areas that you would like to work in. Important point to note over here is not to ask for a job immediately. Develop a relationship by inquiring about the company, their job profile, etc. Keep in touch with them and let them know during your conversations that you would be interested in working for their company if an opportunity comes up. This way you will be on top of their minds if a suitable opening is there in the company. Chances are you will be called in for an interview.

CFA Institute – Local Chapters:

Make sure you attend Local Chapter Meetings of CFA Institute. All CFA candidates can attend this meeting for a small fee. These meetings / events are free for CFA Institute members. Since all members in these events are from the financial domain, chances of success through these events are extremely high. Strategy for initiating contact and developing a relationship remain the same as mentioned above.

CFA Coaching Classmates:

In case you have joined a classroom-training program, it is a great opportunity to network with fellow classmates. Use your breaks effectively, talk to people sitting next to you, make sure not to sit with the same set of people in every class. Remember, candidates sitting next to you are future portfolio managers / CIOs, CEOs. Even if they don’t have a job right now, they can help you get a job or business in future. If someone in the classroom already has a job, they can always help forward your CV to the HR department in their company if there is a suitable opening.

Placement Consultants:

Contacts with placement consultants are extremely important to get the right job, especially when you move up the corporate ladder. Remember, no portfolio manager or CIO will apply for a job on an online job portal. Many times, these jobs are not even posted online. Placement consultants close most senior level positions in every field.

Friends & Family:

Last but not the least, tapping into the friends and family network can provide surprising results. A lot of candidates have friends and relatives in their immediate and extended families that are placed in important positions in companies of interest. Since you already have a relationship over here, it is fine to directly request for your CV to be forwarded to the right person in the firm. Family members can also provide valuable insights about the company that can be particularly useful at the time of interview.

For first time job seekers, it is important to focus on getting the right experience rather than the salary. (Read – True Story of Amelia Earhart) Once you are in a job, there are many opportunities to meet professionals from various backgrounds and develop new contacts. It is easier to find a job once you already have something in hand. It also increases your negotiation power for the next job.

Once you have a job, remember to help others trying to find their feet in the industry. Competition is good, but kindness is even better.

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