A poorly written CV (curriculum vitae), despite the glowing achievements it may contain, will almost certainly create (more…)
1. Tell me about yourself.
This sounds like an easy question to answer. After all, what is so difficult about talking about yourself? But not preparing for a question like this could cause you to bring up points that might be irrelevant for your job candidacy. Review the job requirements and see how your strengths and qualities can support the position. Write down your responses and rehearse your delivery so that it sounds natural. You will have done much of the groundwork in your self-review. Be concise but informative in your response. Depending on your career stage, this answer should take two to four minutes and include the highlights, and sometimes lowlights (remembering to provide examples of how you overcame challenges), of your career background. Focus on your professional work but include significant personal events and experiences if they have affected your career. Display your competence and interest in the position but do not start going into your personal history. If the interviewer wants more detail about a specific incident or phase of your life, he or she will probe further.
2. What is your greatest accomplishment in your career or personal life? Tell me why.
The interviewer is interested in the accomplishment you have chosen to share and its context in your personal and professional background. You should choose a significant event that demonstrates such personal qualities as persistence or ability to overcome adversity and, ideally, an event that displays something a little out of the ordinary. You can broaden your answer to include a selection of accomplishments. For example, “I’ve been pleased with a few accomplishments, such as X, Y, and Z, but I would have to say that my proudest moment was Y because of reasons 1, 2, and 3.”
3. What value have you added to your company in your current role and what value has your company added to you?
This question enables you to demonstrate your expertise, but remember to answer both parts of the question. For the first part of your answer, outline your accomplishments in your current role and include measurable outcomes. Be able to identify and quantify specific ways you have benefited your organization. Outline the challenges or issues you faced in your position or your desired outcomes for the role when you started. Ideally, you want to be able to find similarities between the challenges faced in your current role and the challenges that could arise in your prospective role. This strategy can help convince the interviewer that you are the best choice for the position. In the second part of your answer, identify how you have progressed and what skills and experiences you have gained. Employers like to meet people who are aware of key issues and perceptive of changing situations. Present yourself as having arrived at a situation in which you are now ready — and very able — to take on the new job.
4. Describe how your division/company is organized and how you fit into its structure.
This is a popular question because it gives the interviewer a better understanding of where you fit within the organization. Your answer also demonstrates your verbal skills in explaining your company’s structure and how clearly you understand your role and the chain of command. Start with your job, its title, and a brief summary of your responsibilities. Then, describe your colleagues’ titles and responsibilities and whom you report to. Finally, identify people who report to you. This is a factual answer and doesn’t need to be a sales pitch; just ensure that you are succinct and confident in your answer.
5. What did your latest performance appraisal highlight about you?
Although you should portray the good points from your performance review, you should also be prepared to discuss some of the issues that were raised, if any, and how you are overcoming or improving on these limitations. Most interviewers will also be asking your references this question, so be careful about coming across as ‘sugarcoating’ the facts.
6. (a) What are the qualities required for the position for which you are interviewing? Why?
Research is important for this question. Before the interview, study the top three qualities required for this position as per the job description, and be able to discuss why they are important to the job. In doing so, be aware of the next question that will be asked once you have completed your answer.
(b) Do you think you have these qualities? Can you give me examples of recent work situations that would suggest you do?
As long as the qualities you chose in the previous question (6a) correspond with the qualities that you possess, this answer should be easy.
7. If you were to stay with your current organization, what would your career path be?
You should be able to outline a potential career path (if one exists) within your organization and why this does and doesn’t appeal to you. You should have already gone through this thought process before commencing your job search. Your answer should be logical and sensible to the interviewer because any hint of an illogical approach may indicate to them that you are hiding something.
8. Putting this job aside for one moment, describe your ideal next move in terms of your career.
Since you have mapped your career plan and done self-analysis before your job search and this interview, this should be a relatively straightforward question. Nevertheless, it is an important question because the interviewer wants to understand whether you have thought carefully about your next move and whether your analysis and your plan sound logical and achievable. There needs to be some congruence between your career plan and this role.
9. Are there situations in which you have received instructions from your manager you believed to be morally or technically wrong? What did you do?
Answers to these questions can be interpreted in different ways. Do you display initiative, or do you flout authority? Are you loyal, or do you follow instructions blindly? What are your values, and how do they affect your work? With the recent emphasis on corporate governance, many more organizations want to discuss your ethical perspective and whether you would be the whistleblower if you observed impropriety in the organization. Whether you have had such an experience may depend on your career stage, but the interviewer wants what your approach has been or would be. Ideally, you want to explain that you would want to further discuss the issue with your manager to better understand why he or she made such a decision. The interviewer wants to hear that you know it’s a complex and delicate issue and that you have the ability and experience to read the situation and act accordingly.
10. If you could change one thing about your personality, what would it be?
The interviewer is seeking more information about how self-analytical you are and is trying to see what negative personality traits you may be prepared to reveal. You want to be able to identify one characteristic that you would like to change or develop and this should be significant but not fundamental to the role. Depending on your rapport with the interviewer, an appropriately light-hearted and/or self-effacing comment might be appropriate.
Social Media sites will often be the first way that people and employers will investigate you. In fact, today they have become critically important for screening unsuitable employees. So put on your best face-book, make your online presence known, and go get ‘em! There are so many functions and options to combine profiles in social media tools; it is impossible to go through them all, so it is advised that you spend some time looking at the ways you can customize your online profiles so they best communicate your qualifications and your personality.
If you are a young professional in Africa Pacific, you are probably no stranger to the world of online social networks. Whether for fun, convenience, or connections with friends and family overseas, such sites as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have become part of the fabric that binds people together. And if you have a professional goal in sight, knowing how to present yourself online is a valuable tool to help meet your career goals. Among social career sites, LinkedIn is the market leader, with a network of 200 million members around the world, including 37 million in Asia Pacific, which represents an increase of more than 50% from a year ago, according to Steve Barham, senior director of talent solutions at LinkedIn Asia Pacific.
LinkedIn provides space to build a free online career profile, summarizing your professional experience, interests, abilities, and skills to attract the attention and interest of potential employers and recruiters. It’s more than just an online CV, says Steve. With LinkedIn, you can interact with others, network selectively or broadly, display recommendations, share news, and use the page as a professional branding tool. That’s not to say that social media has overtaken traditional recruitment methods. Some recruiters still prefer reading a paper CV and assessing candidates in face-to-face interviews. Top jobs in financial services, for example, are unlikely to be advertised online or filled by recruiters trawling through online career sites looking for likely candidates. “At a certain senior level, candidates won’t post their profiles online and recruiters won’t advertise certain roles because it might be confidential, or the person may still be in the position, or they don’t want competitors to know about the position,” says Jessy Wong, senior manager at Michael Page Financial Services in Hong Kong. Although it might not be the only way to find a job, no one is denying that creating a professional online profile is very useful for job seeking and for networking.
Building Your Professional Profile Online
So, how should you build the best professional presence online? First, consider your audience. It’s important to differentiate between what you put on social sites, such as Facebook, and what you put on your professional page. Avoid discussing personal issues, making sarcastic comments or off colour jokes, or sharing stories that could paint you in an unprofessional light. Always be polite and tactful, bearing in mind that potential employers could be tracking you. Creating a profile headline is a good idea, says Steve. “Think of the headline as the slogan for your professional brand, such as ‘personal finance expert in Hong Kong,’” he suggests. Look at the profiles of mentors you admire to get inspiration. The information included in your career history should be detailed and up to date. Young professionals may have less to upload, but they should include all their education, any honours or awards received details of relevant internships and volunteer work, and interests and hobbies. “Present your summary statement in short blocks of text for easy reading,” says Steve. “Bullet points are great, too”; asking for endorsements, whether from previous employers, university professors, or teachers, adds credibility and increases your chances as well. Building a network of industry connections and linking to relevant trade or news sites shows that you are aware of the value of professional networks and of keeping on top of industry news. “By highlighting communication abilities and showing that one tracks industry news and trends, applicants can position themselves as leaders in the field, build a positive web presence, and better market their skills to employers,” says Pallavi. Participating in appropriate chat rooms and discussion forums, such as those hosted by professional associations, can also help job seekers find out about vacancies or hiring plans. But it pays to be selective. “The company you keep reflects the quality of your professional brand,” advises Steve.
First Impressions Count
“The most common mistakes job seekers make on their resumes include typos and grammatical errors. Hence, they should be mindful of their spelling and grammar when typing information directly onto online application forms,” says Pallavi. Another common mistake is posting an inappropriate photograph. First impressions count, says Jessy, and many young candidate tend to put up photographs that are too casual. Dress professionally, and invest in a headshot. To stand out among the competition, explain what you have been doing in your previous/current positions rather than just providing job titles. “A lot of the time, [candidates] will write down their titles without listing their responsibilities,” says Michael Page’s Jessy. “Candidates should write down their achievements and special projects that they were involved in as well to make them stand out more.” Listing your skills is a good self-assessment exercise, but it also helps recruiters hone in on your strengths and weaknesses. Exaggerating skills or experience is never a good idea, says Steve of LinkedIn, but neither is being too reticent about your strengths. “We know young professionals generally tend to be less assertive about such things, but it’s important that they capture their capabilities and experience on their LinkedIn profile. It’s all about managing your online brand and giving an accurate representation of yourself.” Social career profiles can also help candidates in interview preparation. You make a good impression on recruiters by researching your interviewers instead of simply Googling the company at which you are being interviewed, Jessy adds. “If you know who your interviewers are, you should go and look them up,” she suggests. “It will really impress them if you go to an interview and say something along the lines of, ‘I’ve looked up your company information, and I’ve also looked up your profile.’ From an interviewer’s perspective, it’s a lot more impressive.”
Network your way through
Networking is a skill for making and maintaining connections with people who can offer you assistance with your career, industry, or culture. That’s all well and good, and the next pertinent question is ‘Why do I care about networking?’ You care because networking makes you more valuable in the market, whether you are an employee or an employer. Below is a list of several advantages that networking can offer you:
You are more proactive
This is the first, and the most undervalued benefit of networking. The push that gets the networking snowball rolling is your own level of engagement, so by consciously making that effort to make and maintain connections, you are already moving your career forward and building healthy habits. And as they say, genius is a habit!
While anyone can go to Business X’s “About Us” page and read that they are “dedicated to providing the freshest fruits to local grocers in Wyoming”, not many are afforded the opportunity of speaking with Mitch, the Senior Marketing Manager, who will tell you that Business X actually imports its fruits from Guatemala. Networking provides you with a distinct perspective on jobs/careers that goes beyond just the duties and responsibilities.
The world has never been more connected than it is today. Networking is a gateway to more job leads and career opportunities than ever before. With the huge growth of social media websites, it has grown from being a tool for finding job leads, to THE tool for finding them.
Social Networking is self-branding. By building your connections and constructing a positive public reputation for yourself, you are already creating a unique brand that will attract unique opportunities to you. Proactive networking will demonstrate that you have strong leadership, communication, and sales skills. So as you continue to add to your network and build your own brand, more and more new contacts and opportunities will be drawn to you.
Who should I network with?
The answer is everybody. And that is because everyone has something to offer you and to gain from you. Whether they be friends, family, professors, co-workers, supervisors, CEOs, or just people you happen to admire, everyone is potentially relevant to your career. Networking does not always produce predictable results, as demonstrated by a former felon who jumped on a successful career track in Hollywood as an actor after being referred by his probation officer!
Some groups and individuals that you should connect to include your…
Professional and trade organizations
University and college alumni associations
Recruiters and headhunters
University and corporate career centers
Online job sites and job boards
Professional groups on social networking sites like Facebook
Social Media’s Role in Networking
The popularity of social networking sites is on the rise, and the reason for that is convenience. Through the World Wide Web, you can be exposed to many people at a time from the safety of your home computer. Below is a list of the most prominent websites used for social networking, and more importantly career decision making and job hunting:
This is the largest and most prominent business-oriented social networking site with over 65 million professionals signed up. Today, it would be ill-advised to maintain a career without having a profile here.
To get started using your account or to learn more about the features and functionality of LinkedIn, attend the following online presentations. All classes are provided free of charge.
Schedules are subject to change. Check back often to find new classes!
- LinkedIn 101: The basics of LinkedIn: Your Profile, Joining Groups, Settings, Search and more
- LinkedIn Pro: Get the Most Out of Your Premium Account
The king of social networking websites, Facebook also has a lot to offer to groups and individuals looking to network because they have the largest registered user list in the US.
In the aftermath of the global financial and economic crisis, African policy makers have been rethinking their economic strategies for the next decade. Africa’s high pre-crisis growth and a quick rebound from the crisis highlighted its vast economic potential. At the same time, poverty is still wide-spread across the continent. The key question then is how to turn Africa’s potential into strong, sustained and shared growth and achieve tangible improvements in people’s lives. Africa’s resilient economies and the continued investment by both local and international organizations establishing operations and expanding business across the region is creating a healthy domestic employment market. In particular, as international organizations establish regional operations in places like South Africa and Nigeria, finance professionals with the continent’s work experience are in high demand across all industries. Risk management and compliance professionals are particularly sought after, especially at the management level, as corporate organizations increase their focus on improving risk and compliance practices. Within an environment of positive job volumes for finance professionals, a shortage of quality talent exists. This is providing significant opportunities for talented individuals to develop skills and gain experience in a new, more senior role. For finance professionals looking to progress their career, we outline the elements to consider and the options available to help move to the next career level.
Map out a clear strategy
The first step toward furthering your career is to determine where you currently stand in your professional life and your skill set level, as this will help you work out what direction you need to take to reach your next career stage. Put a plan together and map out a strategy to provide an understanding of where you are and what you need to acquire and achieve in order to move to the next level.
It’s important to have realistic goals around when and how you can develop your skills, in particular if you are thinking about undertaking further study. Understanding the current employment market in your industry is also imperative, so research the market to ensure you are aware of the issues and trends. By looking at advertised roles, you can assess what skills and experience is required at the career level you are aspiring to reach.
Explore career options in the workplace
With attraction and retention being a key focus for employers, many organizations provide their employees with opportunities for career progression and have development programs in place to ensure a relevant training ground for individuals to move into a more senior role. For professionals seeking to build their career within their company, it’s important to actively position yourself for a promotion. Ensure your manager understands that you want to take the next step in your career and talk to them about how and where you can progress within your team or company. You can also demonstrate your initiative and commitment by asking how you can take on more responsibility within or outside your own team in order to broaden your experience. 10You can also build a strong professional relationship with a senior manager in your company who can act both as a mentor and as an advocate, and network regularly with colleagues from across the company to build your personal brand. While it’s important to reinforce strong technical competence and industry expertise, also highlight that you are reliable, professional, proactive, creative, visible, and dedicated. This will help you to be top of mind when new career opportunities arise within your team or company.
Investigate external career opportunities
If you believe your current workplace is unable to support the career progression you desire, the next option is to look at job opportunities available in other organizations. To put yourself in the best position as a strong potential candidate, work toward upgrading your existing professional skills and check if there are any other finance specific skills necessary for you to move forward in your career. Fill any skills gaps with training and update your industry knowledge by talking to industry experts, doing online research and networking with other finance colleagues. Honing transferable skills is another way to broaden your appeal to potential employers, as hiring managers hold strong transferable skills in high regard. In particular, make sure your verbal and written communication skills are up to scratch, and your analysis and research skills are strong. It’s also an opportunity to practice your influencing and decision-making skills, and if you are aiming to progress your career in a management role, assess your team and leadership skills. From this base, consider any additional professional skills you can work on developing to further build your skill set. Establishing a solid reputation as a talented finance professional within your industry is also helpful when looking for a new career opportunity in another organization. A network of contacts is one of the most useful career development tools, so make the effort to attend professional association meetings, events, and conferences. Networking not only builds your reputation as a well-connected and valued peer but can also help to keep you top of mind when career opportunities arise. Use your network of contacts to keep an eye out for opportunities that match your skills and interests, introduce you to people who can help your job search, and provide personal referrals when you apply for jobs.
Understand the core competence area of demand and requirements
Strategically, understand the core area of competence in continue demand and some of the options with basic requirements are in the following areas:
1. Personal Equity Applicants who select personal equity as a finance career are answerable for raising funds from massive stockholders. They raise the money for making an investment in a large range of enterprises. To immediately invest in companies, applicants would need to find firms which are in their initial stage and growing. Non-public share funds can also exit the investment after express time duration. These holdings in enterprises can be further sold to other stockholders.
2. Investment Banking Applicants who have got an eager interest of working in the sphere of banking and finance can also select a career as a professional banker. Investment banking can be broadly classified into 2 classes – advisory / company finance role and paper markets role. The 1st career option involves comprehending valuations, setting targets, negotiating and abiding by legal laws. On the other hand, the advisory finance role career involves helping companies in fund raising, either from speculators or the general public.
3. Fund Management. Another top career option is beginning to become a fund executive. These pros work at hedge funds. They keep a keen watch and look at the macro factors (having an impact on the markets) and micro factors (picking firms to speculate in). The fund chief functions as a call maker and invests in stock exchange, debt market, corporations and so on.
4. Equity Research & Sales. The equity research area can be split into sell-side research and buy side research. People who work in this area have the work responsibility of doing multiple categories of researches including basic research and technical analysis amongst others. The key job duty of these execs is to judge the stocks being traded on the stock market thru researches.
5. Project Finance. there are a number of structure and commercial projects that look for long-term financing. Applicants employed in project finance and debt syndication would so include understanding the necessities of the project, studying feasibility and readying a detail money model for projects.
6. Finance. risk handling corporations have a regular need for executives who are trained and focus on money risk control. These pros are accountable for making commercial price of firms they are working for and handling exposure to risks like credit risk and market risk. The banking sector employs a fair number of these execs internationally.
7. Corporate Banking. This is another top career option in the province of finance. As a corporate banker, you can work for big companies, little ventures and medium ventures. All of these firms have an obligation for company bankers to deal with a range of banking jobs like credit borrowing, money management, and credit analysis and so on.
8. Alternative Investment. With the growing sophistication of the market and need to explore further areas of financing, key knowledge of alternative investment such as hedge funds, real estate investment, structured finance and leverage buyout are in top demand now as well.
In conclusion it is very important to strategically position your career towards the need and the flow of the industry of interest, such as the finance industry in the region.
Though the financial industry was the most impacted by world economy depression, it has once more come round again. The financial services industry, as well as financial disciplines common to all industries (such as accounting), have long histories of attracting energetic and ambitious people who are looking for the best career opportunities. Focusing on the financial services industry, here are a few of its most significant selling points for prospective employees. Finance corporations have started hiring applicants for numerous job positions in this industry. It’s a time when applicants should be prepared to take the benefit by making a career in finance. There are multiple career options that you can make a decision from it if you have got a powerful keenness for working in the study of finance. You don’t have to wait until you have completed your degree and received your diploma to prepare for your career. While still in school, there are several steps you can take to set the stage for a successful entry into the finance and investment industry.
Seize every opportunity to meet people who have experience in the finance and investment industry and learn from them. These opportunities may come in the form of career events, seminars, conferences, and lectures at your university. Networking is more than just exchanging name cards. It’s about striking a connection with the people you meet, and nurturing and leveraging those connections. Introducing yourself and asking questions to a school alumnus who’s now a senior banking executive may be intimidating. But think of it as practice for the real world.
Your ability to conduct yourself with ease in social and business settings shows your confidence and you can only build up that confidence through practice. Outside of school, don’t hesitate to reach out to relatives, family friends, or friends of friends who work in the industry. Even if you live well outside a financial centre, you can hone your networking skills with your local business community.
DO SOME DUE DILIGENCE
So you have decided on a career in finance. But which area? There are many fields in the industry and myriad roles. Research these fields, find out as much as you can what professionals in those fields do, and the skills and qualifications required. If a CFA designation is typically required for the job you’re angling for, prepare for the CIS, ACCA, CIMA or and CFA Program as early as possible. Keep yourself up to date on industry developments so you know how to position yourself in the job market. Read the financial news; it’s always a good conversation starter in networking events.
BE ACTIVE IN CAMPUS ACTIVITIES
Employers not only judge you based on your grades or relative experience; they want to see a well-rounded person. Your extra-curricular activities can demonstrate your leadership abilities, time management skills, collaborative skills, resourcefulness, and other soft skills. One way of showing employers your serious interest in the industry is to join the professional competition, such as the annual Nigerian Stock Exchange and the Securities and Exchange Commission Essay competition; and the CFA Institute Research Challenge, an annual global competition that provides university students with hands-on mentoring and intensive training in financial analysis in, especially in US and Asia. Considered as the “investment Olympics,” the competition is held in three progressive levels local, regional, and global, where charter holders mentor students as they assume the role of research analysts and are tested on their ability to value a stock, write an initiation-of-coverage report, and present their recommendations.
Fresh graduates are understandably short on work experience when they join the job market. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have zero work experience. One credible way of demonstrating your potential is by getting yourself an internship at a financial institution or company. Many of today’s leading global business leaders spent time learning the ropes as interns: Microsoft founder Bill Gates was a U.S. congressional page, Xerox CEO Ursula Burns was once a mechanical engineering summer intern at Xerox, and JP Morgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon interned at Goldman Sachs in the 1970s. An internship in a prestigious bank would look good in your resume, but more important is what you learn in the process. What were your responsibilities and what business functions were you exposed to as an intern? Don’t just spend your internship photocopying or fetching coffee for the team; be proactive in finding meaningful assignments.
Large international banks have highly competitive internship programs, but you don’t have to limit yourself within this circle. There are many other banks and companies that can offer you a place. Oftentimes, you just have to take the initiative to look for these opportunities by contacting organizations directly, even if they are not advertising for interns. It’s a chance to hone your ability to market yourself to potential employers. Internships may lead to a full-time job offer.
FIND A MENTOR
“Mentors and sponsors are hugely important in careers. We know that people who have them do better,” says Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook. Some people are lucky enough to stumble upon good mentors early in their careers, while others have to seek them out. Sheryl Sandberg’s own mentor was her Harvard University professor Larry Summers, who later became U.S. Treasury Secretary and her boss. If you did your networking homework well, you would have a good group of potential mentors to start with. Mentors and sponsors are people who can offer you practical insights and advice, and can help open doors for you in the industry. They don’t have to be influential figures in the industry. A university professor, a family friend who has years of experience in the finance industry or your supervisor at your internship or summer job may be a potential mentor. It all depends on the kind of relationship that you are able to establish with them and the value that they can add to your career development.
(Part of this article was culled from the CFA Asia magazine)