Networking for an Investment Banking Job

Although the traditional route to finding an investment banking job, such as on-campus recruiting and working with headhunters, remains popular, an increasing number of people are turning to networking as a way to landing their next job. This is especially critical now, due to the downturn in the economy and cutbacks in hiring by banks.

In addition to high marks from a name brand school, investment banks place a lot of emphasis on personality fit. So building relationships with people in the industry is a key advantage. Many interviewers and hiring managers prefer to hire people who have been recommended by someone they know and trust. This is another reason why personal networking is so important in the job search process

The first step to take is to thoroughly familiarize yourself with the industry. You need to speak the language of investment banking, know the terminology, be aware of current financial events and the latest M&A deals being negotiated. Chances are, you already read the Wall Street Journal every day and use various online websites to hone your knowledge of the investment banking industry.

Naturally, you will also have crafted your resume, distilling the most important examples of your experience and unique skills down to one page. You may be sharing this with people as you network.

If this is your first job in investment banking, start networking with friends and acquaintances first who may be in the financial services industry. Find out if any of them are in investment banking, or know someone who is.

The key to these and other networking efforts is to consider them “informational interviews.” Yes, your ultimate goal is to land a job. But the stated purpose of these calls, emails and interviews is to explain that you are interested in the field and seek their advice and experience. People generally do not mind advising others and often extend their help readily.

This could be a starting point for a relationship with this person that you may one day leverage in the hiring process. Or you can ask “is there anyone else you know that I can speak with about opportunities in the industry” and tap into their network of contacts as well.

The Internet can help tremendously with this process. New social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Classmates.com make re-connecting with old friends and school mates much easier. These sites also offer online communities of investment bankers on networking sites and blogs to start building your connections.

Next time, we’ll look at some other fertile areas to build your investment banking job network.

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