8 Steps to Landing a Capital Markets Job

Everyone enjoy the last long weekend of summer.


How do I get a sales and trading job on Bay Street? How do I get an investment banking job in Calgary? What is the secret recipe to help me break into a capital markets job?

These are the questions we hear from the BreakingBayStreet community every day.  Today we are going to give you a start to finish guide on how to get your first capital markets job. Whether you’ve been through the recruitment process before, or have just decided that you’ll be applying to your first capital markets job, following these steps will ensure that you are fully prepared when interviews come along. The guide will be useful to all undergraduate and MBA students across Canada applying for on-cycle full-time and internship positions.

Step 1: Know the Important Dates

If you miss the application deadline then your job search is over before it even began. Capital markets jobs hire university students on a regular schedule and interviews will take place from several months to a year before the job start date. Specifically, the timing for on-cycle recruitment is as follows:

  • Interviews for full-time positions take place in September and the jobs start in September of the following year
  • Interviews for summer internships take place in January of the same year
  • If you are in a university program that offers internships in the fall or winter, contact your program coordinator to determine the key recruitment dates

Step 2: Self Study – Learn the Basics of the Industry 

Successfully navigating through the recruitment process requires you to meet with, learn from and impress a variety of people, but before you can start that you need to do a little bit of homework on your own. Before you start meeting with the people in the industry you want to lock down some of the basics so that you can have intelligent conversations and really leverage each meeting to get the most out of it. Some of the key questions you need to understand in advance are:

  • What are capital markets?
  • What is investment banking/sales & trading/equity research?
  • What do analyst and associates actually do and how they spend their time?
  • What are the traits and skills valued by the people that work in the industry?

Once you’ve got a basic understanding of the answers to these questions, you’re ready to start meeting with people.

Step 3: Meet With Someone You Know That is Familiar With the Job You Are Applying To

Most students will have a friend, colleague, alumnus or family member that has worked in investment banking / sales & trading / research before and now is the time to tap into them. Ideally, you want to meet with someone you know at this point, because you are still a rookie and you want them to be patient with you and give you honest feedback. Ideally, when you meet with them you will want to accomplish the following:

  • Get an insider view on the questions you looked into in Step 1
  • Learn about their experience going through the application process and any lessons learned
  • Learn about their experience as a new hire and what they wished they knew before they started
  • Get feedback on your level of preparedness and where you need to focus your energy as you continue to prepare for interviews.

At this point, you will have a decent understanding of the industry on both an academic and a personal level and you’ll be well on your way to being able to start networking beyond your immediate contacts effectively.

Step 4: Fully Understand the Mechanics and Details of the Recruitment Process

The recruitment process for capital markets jobs is like a big game with a specific set of rules and to play the game strategically you have to know the rules inside and out. Long before the application deadlines creep up, make sure you know the answers to the following questions:

  • Do the banks and other firms I’m interested in hold on-campus recruiting events at my school?
  • How will I be applying? Will it be through an administrator at my university or direct to the firm?
  • What are the industry standard for resumes and cover letters?
  • What are 1st and 2nd round interviews like? How many will there be? What types of people will interview me? What types of questions will they ask?

Step 5: Create Your Resume and Cover Letter and Have it Reviewed by Someone Who Knows What They are Doing

At this point, you are nearly ready to start actively networking and that means you need to have your resume ready in case someone asks for it. Capital markets job applications require a unique format and this will be different from the more generic templates commonly provided by university career service centers. Our team at BreakingBayStreet has come across a lot of resumes and when we get one that doesn’t align with the standard industry format it stands out like a sore thumb. To ensure your resume has what it takes to withstand the scrutiny of the the person reviewing and get you through to the interview stage make sure you do the following:

  • Conform to the industry standards
  • Identify the qualities and traits valued by capital markets professionals and ensure you have demonstrated them through your bullet points
  • Have your resume reviewed by an industry professional you know or at least by someone who has had an capital markets interview before; if you do not know someone personally that can do this for you, you should leverage a service that specializes in capital market resumes to go through it with you

Step 6: Create and Execute A Networking Plan

Networking is a critical part of your job search and needs to be approached systematically. A well executed networking plan will significantly improve your understanding of the industry, help you to emulate the people you aspire to be and perhaps most importantly, improve your odds of being selected for an interview.

For more information on how to carry out your networking plan, see our previous post here.

For more information on how to have a successful informational interview, see our previous post here.

Step 7: Start Doing Mock Interviews 

You do not want to go into your first interview blind. Just knowing the answers isn’t enough, you need to be able to present your answers in a fluid, cohesive and intelligent way and the best way to do that is to practice. Typically the majority of mock interview prep will be with other students in your class that are applying for the same type of jobs. Form groups and working together, you will find that your skills improve dramatically. If possible you should try to line up mock interviews with connections that are full-time professionals in the industry or who have been through the interview process successfully in the past. Typically you will want go through at least 15 hours of mock interviews before your first time going through it for real.

Step 8: Execute

At this point the hard work is all behind you! Submit your properly formatted and peer reviewed application, demonstrate your industry knowledge and your ability to deliver well thought out answers in the interviews and get ready to pick your favourite job offer!

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