Q: What advice do you have for someone looking for a finance job today?
A: Boston has always been a strong job market for finance professionals. The city has is known as a hub for financial services and insurance businesses, and other industries with a strong Boston presence – such as healthcare and technology – have a growing need for finance talent as well. Lately we’ve been seeing a lot of demand for analytical positions, such as financial analysts.
What does it take to land one of these jobs in finance?
First, a strong education background is important. Boston employers are often looking at candidates from top business schools in the area, including Babson, Bentley, Bryant, Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern and UMass to name a few. Some employers go so far as to specify a particular school that they want to hire from.
After checking to see whether you graduated from a ‘pedigree’ school, the hiring manager will next check out your degree and whether you have an advanced degree. Hiring managers will take notice of your grade point average and these days are looking for candidates with a GPA of 3.3 or higher. Master’s degrees, such as an M.B.A., master’s in finance or C.F.A. (chartered financial advisor), are increasingly important and sometimes a prerequisite for finance jobs. For candidates who are thinking about getting a master’s, consider that if you complete the degree right after college, you may be eligible for jobs that your peers aren’t as qualified for and you may be able to launch your finance career sooner.
When it comes to prior work experience, employers who are hiring finance professionals, and especially analysts, are looking for these things:
- Experience – If you’re hoping to land a managerial position in finance, be prepared to demonstrate your budgeting, forecasting and financial modeling experience. We receive a lot of requests from clients who want financial analysts with experience creating financial models from scratch. Not only do they want to hire candidates who are power users with Excel and Microsoft Access, they are also looking for employees who are creative and independent thinkers when it comes to compiling and presenting data.
- Industry knowledge – There’s a big difference between firms that sell investment funds and those that sell pharmaceuticals and their sales and accounting cycles will be very different, too. When filling analyst roles and other finance positions, hiring managers look for relevant industry experience. While a candidate may not need exact industry experience, it’s best if he/she can show an understanding of the business units and sales functions within the firm/industry they’re targeting.
- Confidence – Finance positions are increasingly moving out of the back-office realm and becoming more forward-facing roles. A finance manager or analyst may need to work with the head of every business unit in the company to put together budgets and will need to have the confidence to deliver bad news when needed and to give formal presentations to board members on occasion. Some recruiters say they look for candidates with a “sales mentality and an accounting/finance body” to fill these positions.
About the Recruiter
Greg Menzone is a 10-year veteran of the staffing industry who has made hundreds of successful placements. Greg and the team he manages specialize in direct hire placement of accounting and finance professionals.