CFA Program Jobs – How to Distinguish Yourself

As candidates put the exam behind them, their minds turn firmly to using the designation to land that dream Level I CFA Program jobs.

Some are quickly rewarded but many are just as quickly disappointed that their candidacy in the program does not make them a hot commodity in the labor pool.
I’ve talked a few times about the reality of today’s labor market for our industry. Cuts in the tens of thousands at the big banks means a steady stream of qualified and experienced applicants competing for that position. As the inbox of every HR representative fills up with resumes, candidates need to reach deeper into their toolbox to distinguish themselves from the masses.
Isn’t spending upwards of 300 hours to upgrade my skills enough? Isn’t it enough that I could soon be a charter member of the industry’s most respected designation?
Nope.

Level I CFA Program Jobs and Networking

Networking has always been a requirement in the industry and it’s becoming even more important as competition heats up for fewer CFA jobs. While there are volumes of books on the subject, the easiest and most direct opportunity is right there in front of you. Other candidates, charter holders and your local CFA society could be your best chance at getting your foot in the door to an interview and that eventual job.
Misery loves company and candidates have a huge bond in the grueling six months you’ve all been through. Hopefully you already know some of the other candidates in your area but the LinkedIn group and the local CFA society are good places to start if you don’t. A conversation about how brutal the exam and what they are hoping to do with the designation can easily be steered to where they work and which supervisors you could talk to about opportunities.
Other charter holders know what it takes to take the exams and this could give you some implied credibility. Even if you don’t have much experience, you have the persistence to put in the work and get the job done. Again, your local society is a good place to start for charter holders working at a specific firm. You might also try the member directory on the CFA Institute website.

CFA Societies and Level I CFA Program Jobs

Local CFA societies are always looking for volunteers. These range from short-term assistance with specific events to longer-term commitments as a volunteer or even on the Board of Directors. I volunteered for the CFA Society of Iowa and was elected to the Board even before I had the charter. With the CFA Institute Investment Foundations Certificate still in its infancy, there is a great opportunity in establishing yourself as the “go-to” person for the program in your area. Volunteering to head up an event or a committee is going to put you in the spotlight and will turn into some excellent networking opportunities.
It’s tough out there but not impossible for someone that is willing to put in the time and develop a few connections. Don’t jump right into your elevator pitch on why you should work for the firm or asking if there any opportunities. Develop a rapport with your connections first and find out what they need. Then figure out how best to fill that need.
Stick with it. You’ve already been through the tough part and sat for the exam.
Joseph Hogue, CFA

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