A Survival Guide to Applying for a Job in Finance

Taking your first step into the financial sector can be daunting, especially when surrounded by stiff competition.
The gradsingapore Team
The gradsingapore Team
BFA_A survival guide to applying for a job in finance

Because thousands apply for jobs in finance every year, it’s important to stand out by preparing to face rigorous recruitment processes – like employers screening hopefuls with various psychometric tests.

Ability tests assess general, numerical and verbal reasoning skills, while personality tests help determine whether the candidate is suitable for the position and able to fit into the company culture. Shortlisted applicants will then have to impress recruiters and prospective bosses in interview sessions, and would likely have to participate in assessment centre exercises on top of that.

With so many aspects of the application to prepare for, here are five ways you can be both efficient and effective.

Tips for psychometric tests

• Get sufficient rest the night before

• Familiarise yourself with the types of questions in ability tests through online practices

• Don’t overthink for personality tests, as there are no right or wrong answers

Focus your job search

While there are countless employers you can apply to, the time used to send generic applications to 50 companies can be better spent focusing on a few preferred firms which you’re interested in. Be as selective as possible. A good method to go about this is by doing some general research – list down potential employers, compare them, come up with a shortlist containing about five to 10 “priority” companies and finally conduct in-depth research. This way, you can make better sure your skills and expertise match what these companies are looking for, thus increasing your chances of landing your ideal job in the financial sector.

Don't procrastinate

Although many organisations accept applications all year-round, it’s still necessary to check out the processes and closing dates for the companies and positions you’re most interested in. Keep in mind that in the banking and investment industry, application deadlines also tend to be earlier. Apply early because some companies tend to continue making offers even as applications come in, and may fill up all available spots even before the closing date.

Attend career events

Whether they’re conducted physically, virtually, or both, career fairs, industry events and open houses for banks and accountancy firms are usually held year- round in Singapore. Seminars and trade shows, such as the Accounting & Finance Show Asia and the Singapore Universities Recruitment Fair (SURF), provide exposure and networking opportunities with numerous participating firms, such as PwC and Deloitte.

Be proactive in approaching people and making an effort to get to know them while asking intelligent questions.

After all, recruitment fairs provide an excellent setting for you to speak to recent graduates and find out what their working lives are like. Moreover, they also give you the opportunity to discuss any concerns you might have with recruiters, and access a wealth of information only insiders can give.

Other than keeping yourself up-to- date with the latest news and trends in the industry, it’s important to find out which companies would be present at the event as well. Prepare specific questions for them, and bring a notepad to jot down useful information such as contact details and application deadlines.

As opportunities present themselves at unexpected times, always keep an open mind and welcome any professional exchanges. Last but not least, remember to show a genuine interest in the people you meet!

Embrace technology

In this digital era, information is widely available on the internet – reviews of prospective employers and interview questions they’ve given applicants can even be found. Take the reviews with a pinch of salt, but look out for tips and suggestions on how to tackle interviews with specific companies.

Besides using the Internet to understand developments and trends in the financial sector, compare various sources to learn about each prospective employer’s business structure and history. In addition, do some background research to get a good grasp of the environments different potential employers operate in.

It’s imperative to understand how each big and small player in the industries of banking, investment, accountancy and financial services portray their positions compared to key competitors.

Get involved

If you’re an undergraduate, think about what competencies and skills are required for your roles of interest in the financial sector. From there, take part in extracurricular activities to develop transferable skills much like leadership and communication.

While you don’t necessarily have to join the Math Club or the Investment Club, having a strong record shows that you are a well-rounded individual and a team player, making yourself an attractive candidate that can be trusted to work with different groups of people in order to achieve desired targets.