Chasing Unicorns in the Recruitment Process

Why you need to stop studying and start networking!

Recently, I met with a student who had just finished his MBA and wanted to get a front office job at a bank. Upon meeting this particular student and listening to his story I felt bad for him. He was extremely stressed out and faced the harsh reality that many international students are confronted with upon graduation: get a job or go home. Overwhelmed with panic and fear, he was worried it was too late to succeed and he was going to disappoint his parents. First thing is first, it is never too late to succeed!

He told me that during his MBA program, he spent all his time studying to achieve the best marks. He continually repeated that he had some of the top marks in his program, but still had not been successful in getting interviews. He thought that if he earned the top marks, employers would be waiting to hire him at the finish line. This student like many before him was forced to come to terms with the truth: TRANSCRIPTS DON’T GET YOU A JOB.

This thought, that if I get the top marks I will certainly get the job I want, is a common belief amongst students and this is how I used to think as well. The reality, however, is that MARKS ARE NOT EVERYTHING! Do not be confused by this statement. I am not saying that good grades are not important. If you do not have good grades you will never get an interview for a capital markets job, but if you want to be a capital markets professional,your transcript is just the beginning.

Good marks are a minimum requirement and that is all they are, they are not a guarantee. A new job posting at an investment bank will receive hundreds, if not thousands of applicants. If you want to be a candidate that gets an interview, you need to set yourself apart. You have to stand out from the others, either by work experience, knowing someone or luck. Marks are usually not enough alone to make you standout. The majority of applicants have an average above 80%. Students often think that boosting their average from 90% to 92% will set them apart and get them the job. The sad truth is that the person reading the resume will not even notice the difference. If you want a job and already have good marks, you need to drop the books and take action. Let me explain.

With a background in economics and finance, I like to think of things by using the concepts we learned in ECO 101. Let us analyze the impact of better grades on the likelihood of getting a job:

Example #1:

Quickly rehashing our first year economics course, let us think of the chance of getting a job as an increasing function dependent on better grades, i.e. as your grades go up so does your likelihood of getting a job. This is line A.The function exhibits decreasing marginal returns, meaning that as your marks get higher, the impact of each additional percent increase in marks results in a smaller increase in your chances of getting a job. A good way to think about this is: the chance of getting a job with an 85% average and a 95% average are not that different, all else equal.

However, networking can drastically change the probability of getting a job with any GPA. In our graph, networking is an exogenous variable that shifts the curve higher for every GPAs level. This means that your chances of getting a job are HIGHER at ALL GPAs! This is depicted in the below graph as the line A shifts higher to line B.

If you want to be an investment banker or capital markets professional and you have not met with at least ten people in that field, you are not serious about getting a job. The knowledge you gain in networking will blow your mind. Networking will build your confidence; open doors that you did not know existed, and most importantly allow you to learn how to begin to sell yourself.

Often students tell me they are nervous or do not know how to reach out to people without sounding desperate. So let BreakingBayStreet help you with this. Be one of the first 5 people to post a request to connect in the comments below and one of our founders will meet with you or take a call with you personally. They will give you 30 minutes and to answer whatever questions you have and provide advice on how to begin your networking journey.

In my next post I will explain to you why networking is so important and give you some tips and tricks to help you along the way.

Meet you at the top!

Walter White

12 thoughts on “Chasing Unicorns in the Recruitment Process

  • Informational interviews are very good to get an inside view of the job/company. Networking is awesome, but it is sometimes challenging to get the attention or time of busy people like investments bankers. It will be great to have hints on how to best get their attention/time. Given that networking is about building relationships, I find it hard to “give back” to the person I network with, especially when the person holds a senior or high level position. It will be great to have an advice on this. If I could go back, I would start networking from high school!:)

    • Thanks for your comment Farah! It can definitely be a challenge approaching someone who is both very experienced and very busy. The solution is 1/2 strategy and 1/2 state of mind, and BreakingBayStreet.com is going to address both of them with 2 new blog posts. So stay tuned and we’ll tackle your questions over the next couple of days!

  • Hi Josh/Jay,

    It is great to see a couple of former bankers willing to help others break into this field. I am hoping we can connect over a coffee chat sometime soon. I am very interested in getting into investment banking. I look forward to the new content on here!

  • Interesting post! There is no doubt the human component is integral to succeeding in this process. However, it is daunting having to solicit a stranger to a coffee date. Especially with the fear the conversation won’t go smoothly. But I suppose it is just a matter of practice.

    I look forward to more of your posts.

    • Absolutely! Often when we think of meeting someone for coffee we associate it with meeting up with a friend or family member and so it seems strange that this is something you would have to practice for. But this is a different ballgame! It may be the only interaction you have with this person so you have to come prepared and have an objective. Having an objective is Key #1 in our latest blog post “The 6 Keys to Coffee Shop Networking Success”, so please check it out for other great strategies.

  • Finally, a post that reveals the true power of a well developed and properly leveraged network!

    I thoroughly enjoyed this article, particularly the comparisons to Economics.

    Hopefully we can connect soon, I would love to learn more about strategies to obtain employment in the capital markets industry and how to better develop my professional network.

    Thank you.

    • Very interesting, Thank you

      Also, thanks for coming out to the U of T resume/cover letter workshop.

      I would love to discuss this in person with you further, as you seem like a person that is keen on helping others and whom has valuable insights for breaking into the capital markets industry.

      I look forward to meeting you again soon.

      Luis Castillo

  • I have a similar question as Farah. Every post says that it is about them and that you have to think ways to help the other person. I totally agree with this, it is just hard to come up specific ways that can really help a person in a senior position. Some people recommend sending relevant news or summary of articles. What are other ways to make me useful?

  • Thanks for the post Jie. As per our reply in Farah’s post we will be addressing part of your question with 2 new blog posts, so stay tuned. 1 thing I will say though is that whether you realize it or not, you ARE being useful just by being there. From the job seekers side it seems like the person that already has the job holds all the power. The truth is, that recruiting new talent is an extremely resource intensive task and finding a great new candidate can be a huge win for for THEM!

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