Getting a job in finance is lucrative, but the field can be extremely competitive. That’s especially true if you recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree but lack real-world experience. Getting a job in finance with no experience is possible, but it requires some homework and a plan. Research helps you find the right job and stand out against the competition.
Is finance a good career?
You might wonder, “Is finance a good career?” The answer is yes! Current trends such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing, and cryptocurrency are shaking up the industry and creating exciting new opportunities. Roles in accounting automation, tech adoption, big data, and IT combine digital, financial, and technical environments, making it even more important to clarify which direction you want to go in.
Most people in the finance industry will tell you it is hard work, but the rewards are worth the challenge. The main disadvantages of working in finance include:
- Increased stress levels
- Meeting quotas and finishing time-sensitive projects
- Time and cost of continuing education
- Ability to stay calm under pressure
The personal benefits of getting a job in finance include expertise, industry knowledge, and individual financial security. A job in finance also offers:
- High-paying salary
- Job security
- Impressive career advancement opportunities
- Wide range of career path options
Read more: Highest-Paying Finance Jobs
Do you need a finance-related degree?
A finance degree will help you sell yourself in a cover letter, job interview, or resume. It is common for companies to require entry-level employees to have a finance-related college degree; however, it isn’t always a requirement.
Many people with analytical, interpersonal, or problem-solving skills can find a job in finance without a related degree. It’s all about researching, knowing your worth, and learning how to sell yourself- be realistic and selective.
9 tips to get a job in finance
The following tips will help you prepare to work in the finance industry and find your perfect first position. Not every tip is necessary, but they will help you stand out to hiring managers and find a job, especially if you’re looking for an entry-level position.
1. Get a bachelor’s degree
Applying for entry-level finance jobs can be overwhelmingly competitive just because of the number of people graduating with finance degrees yearly, and if you’re able to, getting a bachelor’s degree will help you stand out against the competition.
Trying to figure out how to get into the finance industry usually starts with a degree. Your education doesn’t need to be directly related to the finance industry but having a major, or a minor related to finance, economics, accounting, or even general business is beneficial. Additionally, having an unrelated degree is better than having no degree.
2. Prepare an organized resume
The second most important tip for how to get a job in finance is a well-organized resume. Think of resumes as your first impression in any job application. They take time but also require you to analyze what your skills are- which will help you in the long run.
Creating a resume with creativity, originality, and personality will help you stand out. It can also be helpful to tailor your resume to each job application. For example, if you’re applying to two roles and only one requires project management experience, then only mention it in that copy of your resume and find another applicable skill to talk about for your other resume. Here are some other best practices for finance resumes:
- Focus on your skills and relate them to the finance sector.
- Include volunteer and charity work.
- Highlight high school and college accomplishments.
- Emphasize easily-transferrable skills.
- Explain how you can meet employer needs and help solve their problems.
3. Try to get internships as early as possible
If you can get an internship, you should. The more internships you have, the more you can learn about yourself and what kind of a permanent job you’d like. They are an amazing opportunity to explore different career opportunities, your strengths, and your weaknesses in a short-term role.
Internships are also fantastic networking opportunities. They can help you meet mentors and peers sharing similar experiences early on in your career, which is a vital part of working in finance. It’s important to note that internships can often be unpaid, which is not feasible for everyone.
4. Network often
As mentioned above, it’s crucial to network. Networking is critical in finance because it helps you find referrals, which can sometimes make or break an application. Referrals help you get hired by showing your interpersonal skills in addition to the technical skills on your resume.
Whether you’re just starting your career or finding a new job after twenty years in finance, the more genuine network connections you have, the more likely you are to know someone who can get you an interview at your dream company.
5. Try to find a mentor
A good mentor who’s already established in the finance industry can help in any way you need. Mentors can offer interview advice and critique your resume, but they can also help you by sharing what they’ve already learned.
An ideal mentor will help support your goals, prepare you for a new role, recommend future opportunities, and help you stand out against your competition in the application process.
6. Be ready to start in a lower position
The competitive nature of the finance industry, especially for people with no experience, makes it essential to keep expectations in check. High salaries benefit working in finance, but that doesn’t always happen right away in an entry-level position. If an opportunity with an ideal company presents itself, consider a lower-paying position as a starting point.
7. Follow industry trends
Staying as informed as possible on current financial trends is vital for success in the industry. Wall Street’s trends, terms, and jargon will come in handy during interviews and networking opportunities. Researching past, present, and future trends are also a great way to figure out how to get a job in finance with no experience.
Incorporating financial news, books, podcasts, and websites into your regular media mix helps you pick up the jargon naturally. Plus, continued learning will teach you about different career paths and help you figure out what area of finance is right for you.
8. Start earning finance credentials
One of the final tips for getting a finance job is earning the necessary credentials. When exploring your different career opportunities, you must remember to research required certifications and which ones can set you ahead of your peers.
Two of the most common credentials in the finance industry are the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Level 1 exam and the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam. Exploring different additional credentials will expand your job qualifications and give you another conversation topic for interviews.
9. Prepare in advance for interviews
An interview is your opportunity to show potential employers why you’re a great candidate. Interviews might sound challenging, but they will become easier as you become accustomed to talking about the finance industry, your skills, strengths, and career goals. Additional research about the specific role you’re interviewing for will help you look better from the hiring perspective.
Receiving an interview invitation shows that someone sees potential in you, so it’s important to prepare conversation starters, questions about the company, and specific reasons why you’re the best fit for the role. Here are some more tips about interview preparation:
- Show an understanding of the company and its competitors.
- Practice answering common interview questions.
- Prepare talking points and questions to keep in your back pocket.
- Dress appropriately and professionally.
- Carry copies of your resume and a way to take notes.
- Relate answers to your relevant skills.
- Send a thank-you email or handwritten note expressing your continued interest.
Find a finance career you’ll love with Top Workplaces
While a good-paying job in finance is desirable, it’s equally important to find a job you’ll love. Top Workplaces are a great place to begin your search. Based on the results of a research-backed employee engagement survey, these companies believe in — and prioritize — people-first cultures. Check out these resources to find a great place to work.
See: Top Workplaces in Finance industry awards
Read more: Best Finance Companies to Work For
If your company is in the finance industry and you’re proud of your people-first culture, get recognized for it! Nominate your organization for Top Workplaces, the employer recognition program that offers awards in 60+ regional markets and national awards for culture and industry excellence.