Financial job searches generally start off with a lot of excitement and a little dose of anxiety. A slight change in perspective can be the difference between a long and financially fruitless career search and a short successful one. As a business or finance grad, you've probably spent time imagining what the ideal job will look like, how to find it and how to close the deal once you get the interview.

Successfully landing a job has less to do with your particular job skills and more to do with your financial job search strategy. Most new graduates want to highlight their skills, education and intellectual curiosity. Although relevant and necessary, companies are in need of strategic candidates, not walking resumes. The secret to standing out of the crowd is changing your point of view. Read on to learn how to be a standout applicant and land a stellar job.

See: How To Land A Finance Job Straight Out Of Undergrad

High-Level View of the Financial Job Landscape
Wrap your head around a big-picture view of the finance job landscape before making any moves. Step away from the computer, log off the blogs and consider what the employment market looks like. Find the answers to these important questions: What industries are growing? What sectors will be most influenced by technology, macroeconomics and geopolitics? What niche have companies been adding to their work forces and why?

Answers to such questions can provide a strategic view of the financial job market and opportunities for a recent grad. Ironically, the biggest challenge for a recent grad is the fact that he or she recently graduated. In order to overcome lack of experience, you must demonstrate the potential you bring. The hiring manager should sense that your are not only a great team player, but also a quick study with a can-do attitude.

See: Students, Get Your Foot In The Door!

Start With the End in Mind
In order to give a hiring manager a positive impression, you should reverse engineer the desired result. The key is planning. Before graduation you should be laying the groundwork for your financial job search strategy.

When targeting a job in finance, it is well worth your time to get to know the HR directors at major financial firms in your city. People will be much more open to speak to you if you simply want to learn about their firm and are not asking for a job. Set up a 15-minute introductory meeting to ask a handful of questions about the firm's culture, people and business challenges.

Perhaps the most important part of this strategy is following up. A hand written note in the mail (no later than the next day) is required. Stay in touch. You are trying to differentiate yourself, so do not treat the meeting like a finance job interview. A good impression at this early stage, along with a quarterly phone follow-up, can give you a solid leg up in the financial job search process.

Where You Start Is Not Where You Finish
Since it's going to take time and effort to secure a job in finance, recent graduates should concentrate on positions in line with their long-term goals. It takes as much time and energy to land a good job as it does to land a bad one. Don't be too concerned if your first position isn't the optimal situation. Measure the non-cash benefits and the learning possibilities offered. Sometimes the most difficult work situations offer the best opportunity for development.

If you can't secure the job in finance you've always dreamed of, learn to love the position you have! While you're there, be patient and learn everything you can. Keep in mind that this position is preparing you for the next finance job, which may be the one you really want. You will need references for your next job, so be professional when it comes time to leave.

Consider the Whole Package
When you receive an offer for a job in finance, carefully review the entire package. This includes health coverage, disability insurance, training, retirement contributions and travel opportunities. These are the basics - make sure you understand what is included.

Smaller firms tend to be more flexible with the employment package. This is a good thing and leaves room for reasonable requests such as flexible working hours. Larger companies tend to be less willing to negotiate, and view benefits as one large, static system.

Best Available Financial Job Resources for New Grads
Graduates today have more tools and resources available to them than ever before. Do not underestimate the power of your school's alumni network. Again, take the approach of an informational interview - not that you are looking for a job. Talk about your long-term professional goals and seek out alumni recommendations on the best way to reach that goal. If you do know of a particular opening at an alumni member's company in which you have interest, ask for strategies as to the best way to get in touch with the hiring manager.

Financial hiring managers are using niche job sites because the generic boards produce too many unqualified applicants. You should use them too. Although the large job boards claim to have many thousands of jobs available, your interest is in a very small subset of those positions. From the employer's side, it is well known that the large, generic career sites are costly both in terms of time and money. Recruiters often find that in return for posting on one of these sites, they get an inbox filled with resume spam - it's not the stack you want to be associated with.

See: Finding Your Place In The Financial Industry

Leading with Your Strengths
Your strategy for finding the best job should include resources available to you such as personal, professional and public websites. You should also use your professors, friends and family to collect the first round of leads for jobs in finance. Sometimes the best jobs come by word-of-mouth and casting a wide net ensures you will have the maximum number of job options from which to choose.

Lead with your strengths. If you've consistently been told that you're a great communicator, then focus your search on positions with more personal interaction. If your professors mentioned how you have an unusual talent for numbers, attend the local accountant's forum in your area and start talking to people for whom the numbers are everything.

Short-Term Actions Lead to Long-Term Career Success
Think about your first position strategically; does it put you on the path you are hoping for or does it start you off in the wrong direction? Set yourself apart with quick, informative introductory meetings and be sure to stay in touch. Take advantage of the flexibility available in the compensation package - it isn't all about the money. And finally, be sure to use your own personal network for warm introductions and niche online resources to expand your opportunities. Follow these tips and play to your strengths and you are sure to start your financial career off on the right foot.

Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    Trying On Potential Employers

    Ditch your ego, prove that you'll work hard and don't settle for the wrong company.
  2. Professionals

    How To Land A Finance Job With A Bachelor's Degree

    Following these five tips will keep your resume out of the recycling bin.
  3. Professionals

    Taking The Lead In The Interview Dance

    Learn the steps that will help lead you to a new career.
  4. Retirement

    Financial Career Shift: Get In The Driver's Seat

    Before you agree to work for another investment firm, be sure you know what you're getting into.
  5. Professionals

    Tips To Beat Tough Interviews

    Learn how to answer some of the hardest interviewer questions and scenarios.
  6. Entrepreneurship

    Top Legal Tips for Starting a Business

    Before you launch a new business, make sure you're on top of the key issues that most startups face.
  7. Career Education & Resources

    The Top RIA Deals of 2015

    It was a big year for change within the RIA industry. Here are 2015's biggest mergers, acquisitions and buyouts.
  8. Retirement

    Roth IRAs Tutorial

    This comprehensive guide goes through what a Roth IRA is and how to set one up, contribute to it and withdraw from it.
  9. Budgeting

    Lost Your Job? 6 Things to Do Immediately

    If you’ve lost your job, shoring up your finances as best you can will make it easier to get back on your feet again when that next position rolls around.
  10. Options & Futures

    What Does Quadruple Witching Mean?

    In a financial context, quadruple witching refers to the day on which contracts for stock index futures, index options, and single stock futures expire.
  1. What is a derivative?

    A derivative is a contract between two or more parties whose value is based on an agreed-upon underlying financial asset, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is after-hours trading? Am I able to trade at this time?

    After-hours trading (AHT) refers to the buying and selling of securities on major exchanges outside of specified regular ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Do working capital funds expire?

    While working capital funds do not expire, the working capital figure does change over time. This is because it is calculated ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How does escheatment impact a company?

    In recent years, state governments have become increasingly aggressive in enforcing escheatment laws. As a result, many businesses ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How much working capital does a small business need?

    The amount of working capital a small business needs to run smoothly depends largely on the type of business, its operating ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What does low working capital say about a company's financial prospects?

    When a company has low working capital, it can mean one of two things. In most cases, low working capital means the business ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Liquidation Margin

    Liquidation margin refers to the value of all of the equity positions in a margin account. If an investor or trader holds ...
  2. Black Swan

    An event or occurrence that deviates beyond what is normally expected of a situation and that would be extremely difficult ...
  3. Inverted Yield Curve

    An interest rate environment in which long-term debt instruments have a lower yield than short-term debt instruments of the ...
  4. Socially Responsible Investment - SRI

    An investment that is considered socially responsible because of the nature of the business the company conducts. Common ...
  5. Presidential Election Cycle (Theory)

    A theory developed by Yale Hirsch that states that U.S. stock markets are weakest in the year following the election of a ...
Trading Center