Advice for Those Seeking Investment Banking Jobs

We recently interviewed Ken Heisler, Director of Search at SALO, LLC in Minneapolis, Minnesota, who specializes in permanent placement of senior-level professionals in the fields of Finance and Accounting.

Where are the opportunities in this challenging job market?

Regardless of the organization, Accounting and Finance is a necessity.  Companies will need to continue to hire talent, especially on the accounting side.  For example, trying to do valuations on assets, such as collateralized debt obligations, is a very complex process.  So firms will need to have the right talent to do this. 

Are there opportunities with government agencies or regulators?

If you go back to the mid-1980s, when they had the Resolution Trust Company that was set up to deal with the crisis back then, they needed people. But it doesn’t appear that the government is going to put something together like that, yet.

What advice would you give to job seekers in today’s market?

Networking is key.  You can do this a number of ways.

Reach out to friends, family and past colleagues.  Let them know what kind of position that you are looking for.  They may be aware of an open position within their organization, and a referral from a current employee is a great way to get your foot in the door of any organization.

Networking groups are also a good way to promote your skills.  Even if someone within the group doesn’t know of any positions at their place of employment, they may have a contact at a company that you are interested in.

And finally, work with a respected search firm in your geographical location.  Let them know your expertise and what you’re looking for in a career opportunity, and a culture.  Often times, professional search firms are aware of positions that are not yet public knowledge, giving you an edge.

Should candidates branch out beyond their region?

That depends on the level they’re at. If they’re a CFO or a senior VP, it might be a good option for them.  Broadening their geographic region and where they’re willing to go opens up more possibilities for their career search.

If you are at a different level in your career, and are open to moving, be prepared to pay for any moving expenses incurred due to relocation.

Advice for students

If you’re a student, and going to be graduating soon, get involved with campus recruiting and networking. Companies are always looking to hire new graduates.  Especially as the Baby Boomers retire, corporations are seeking Gen Y’ers so that they can develop talent from within the organization.

Typical candidate for SALO

Most of the placements we do at SALO are in the $100K and above level. Everything we do is senior analyst, manager, director, CFO, controller, that type of position.

The current business environment

In the current economic situation there fewer open positions, especially at entry-level, in private equity or hedge funds. Companies that are hiring for open positions are seeking applicants from the Top 10 MBA Schools or specific background as it relates to Hedge Funds or Private Equity.

My advice to people seeking employment is to work with an experienced, well networked industry, recruiter. They usually have relationships with the hiring managers, and that increases your chances of getting an interview. Especially if you are being recommended.

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