Market Overview

What To Do If You're Not Getting The Job Offers You Want in Finance

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The job search is rarely described as easy. As a recent finance graduate, you probably have the perfect job in mind. But what happens when the positions you’re being offered just aren’t matching up with what you want -- or you’re not getting any offers at all?


Don’t worry, this is a completely normal part of the job search that often goes undiscussed. The dismal state of the job market often means job seekers, employed or not, feel the need to jump at any job offer that comes their way, which can have a negative impact on their overall career goals.


According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 45.9 percent of the Class of 2013 have received at least one job offer and, of those, nearly 64 percent have accepted one. If you’re part of the 36 percent that hasn’t settled, or the 50 percent that has yet to receive a position, there’s still a lot you can do to gain valuable experience within the finance industry.


Here are a few noteworthy alternatives to taking a full-time finance position:


Your Intern Days Aren’t Behind You


While taking on an internship may not be on the top of your to-do list post-graduation, it can be the perfect way to get your foot in the door. If you didn’t intern during college, taking an internship after college may be just what you need to land a great entry-level position. In fact, nearly 60 percent of interns in the U.S. were converted into full-time hires by their employers last year.


Interning will help you to gain hands-on experience in finance, develop valuable skills, expand your network, and also set yourself up to rise through the ranks of a company. Some of the best internships in America take place in the finance sector. Internships are also the perfect way to gain resume and portfolio fodder during a long-winded job search.


Make Your Mark As An Independent Contractor


If the job offers being sent your way aren’t on par with your interests, it may be time to take control of your finance career and turn yourself in another direction. Glenn Hutchins, Co-Founder of Silver Lake Partners, took the reigns of his career after earning both a JD and MBA from Harvard.


After turning down offers from investment banks and consulting firms, Hutchins turned to contract work for a year before he joined what became one of the first private equity firms in the country.


If you decide the independent contractor route is right for your career in finance, you may not be working regularly right out of the starting gate. It’s your duty to network and build connections with companies looking for contractors and fill your daily, weekly, and monthly schedule with valuable and consistent opportunities. Contract work is perfect for finance graduates looking to dabble in a variety of areas, build their contacts, and express their self-starting, entrepreneurial spirit.


Start Your Own Business


Taking an entry-level position at an established company isn’t the right path for every finance professional. If you’re especially entrepreneurial, starting your own business may be worth considering. But beware, this career path isn’t for the faint of heart.


It takes time, money, know-how, and often a great mentor to build a business. Many entrepreneurs start their businesses as a side job and hold another position until they can get their company up and running. You might consider starting out doing contract work or settling on a less-than-ideal entry-level position while you begin to lay the foundation for your own business.  


Hit The Books


When Tony James, President and COO of Blackstone Group, graduated from Harvard, he  insisted that he applied to hundreds of jobs, but no employer seemed to bite. His solution: head back to Harvard Business School.


If you’re not receiving the job offers you want, it may be time to head back to school. If business school doesn’t sound like something within your realm of interest, consider taking either general or online classes to continue growing your skillset. Gaining more industry knowledge can help you identify your future career interests in the industry or even open the door to new educational connections that can lead you to a job opportunity.


Volunteer Your Time To Gain Experience


Not every beneficial work experience comes with compensation. There may be a number of unpaid project-based or volunteer opportunities in which you can gain valuable finance experience. This may be just what you need to attract the attention of the company you’ve had your eye on.


Philippe Laffont, Founder and CEO of Coatue Management, a privately owned tech-focused hedge fund sponsor,  originally pursued his passion for tech investing by taking an unpaid position at a small mutual fund. This position gave his career in finance the perfect jumping off point, because he later connected with Julian Robertson of the hedge fund Tiger Management and was hired there.  


Still, proceed with caution when taking an unpaid opportunity. Gaining experience without compensation shouldn’t be something in which you’re expected to invest 40 hours a week-- it should be approached simply as a project-based opportunity to expand your resume. Make sure you’re familiar with current legal proceedings regarding unpaid internships and work before diving into this type of work as well.


Sometimes getting the finance job offers you want means diverting from your original plan for a career path. Look for ways to gain experience and drive connections within the finance industry to help you land the jobs you want. There are many different paths to success. It’s OK to take the road less traveled!


What are some other ways to gain experience that don’t involve a full-time, permanent position?

The following article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.

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