Banking Graduate Applications, 2.2s, Online Forums and General Rant about Recruitment Processes
I have been using these forums for a couple of years now and have posted under a few different names. Over this time I have had a number of experiences and have fallen foul of some pitfalls and I think it would be useful for me to share my experiences.
I no longer need to use these forums and wanted to make a final contribution relaying what I have learnt and offer advice from my own experiences. This post will be pretty long and I have broken it down into different sections so feel free to read whatever is most relevant to you.
In the final year of my undergraduate degree I had an offer for a front office graduate programme. However, I had suffered from extenuating circumstances in my final year and fell short of the offer. The company subsequently withdrew the offer despite my university writing to them confirming my predicted grades and the extenuating circumstances.
I have since worked at a top tier bank and completed a Masters degree. I currently have an offer from a Bulge Bracket bank for their grad programme.
A comment on online forums
Forums are a great resource when preparing for interviews and when filling out application forms. The vast majority of the people on them are genuinely helpful and can offer valuable advice.
However, there can be a lot of incorrect information on here so do not take everything you read on them as gospel. There have been occasion when I have read things on these forums that I know to be blatantly false and misleading – so while these forums are great be careful not believe everything you read.
While most people on these forums are helpful there is a small minority of people who are rude, disparaging and generally unpleasant – ignore these people. Rest assured that if they genuinely act like that in real life or at work they won’t last long in the industry. As a grad you really do have to leave your attitude at the door.
2.2 – Missing offers and applying with a 2.2
Missing your offer can be a nightmare, believe me I know. However, some firms are willing to overlook this but it really does depend on each individual company. Usually it’s the HR departments that are strict about these requirements and people in the businesses aren’t as bothered by it. So if you know which team you are going to be joining for example you have been interviewed by someone from that team your first port of call should be to get in touch with that person. Ask to meet them for a coffee or to speak with them over the phone, they should be happy to do this at this stage as they know you a going to be joining the team soon. Do not simply email them with all the details as they may simply forward it onto HR – you need to employ a personal approach and get the person on your side.
If you have a 2.2 and want to get into the industry don’t be discouraged there are ways to get into the industry with a 2.2.
Firstly, you may want to consider a Masters degree – a warning here – some companies simply do not care that you have a masters degree they only look at your undergraduate degree. You have to speak to individual firms to get their position on this. In my experience less than half the banks I spoke with would consider you if you have a 2.2 and a Masters. This is not a guaranteed method so only do a masters if you really want to do one as there is a massive jump from undergrad to masters in terms of the amount work and intellectual requirements. But there are occasions when it can help counter poor performance in your undergrad degree.
Try looking at smaller firms, who usually use a recruitment agency for their grad recruitment – if you speak to the agency directly they may be willing to put you forward for interviews in spite of having a 2.2 if you have other redeeming features such a good work experience/internships etc. I managed to get interviews with some smaller firms by doing this.
Register with recruitment agencies – there are some very good agencies that work with graduates and can be a good way of getting into the industry. A cautionary note here, some agencies are simply appalling and are not always upfront about what job they are sending you to interview for so have your wits about you and realise that they are ultimately being paid by the company and are primarily looking out for the company that is paying their commission - that being said there are some good agencies out there but it is does involve a lot a trial and error to find them.
Finally, you may be able to get into a back office role and work your way up. This is a long and hard road but is possible you have good networking skills. This is particularly true if you want to work in Sales or Trading and possibly Research
This is not an exhaustive list and there are other ways to get into the industry for example if you want to get into M&A then banks like to hire qualified ACA’s as associates and into higher positions so you could conceivable work for an accounting firm for a few years get qualified then apply for these roles.
So even with a 2.2 there are a number of ways to get in to the industry so don’t be discouraged.
General Note about Recruitment Processes
I have gone through A LOT of recruitment processes for investment banks over the past couple of years and the one thing that I have learnt is that it ultimately comes down to luck.
For example, you could have a first from Oxbridge, a CV full of extra curricular activities and great internships but if you have an interview with someone who has had a bad day or has simply taken a disliking to you then none of it matters.
Also, in the current market you have 2 years worth of graduates, some of whom didn’t get an offer last year applying for the same jobs so good candidates may just slip through the cracks.
The only way you can control this is by applying early – spend a couple of weeks in September (when most applications open) knocking out as many as you can. Uni may not have started yet and if it has your work load in the first couple of weeks should be pretty light.
Applying early in the current job market is essential as all grad roles are woefully over subscribed. This is obviously irrelevant for this year but may help those looking to apply next year.
In general terms if you still haven’t got interviews / offers don’t be discouraged if this is the industry you want to work in then you should persevere – it may take you longer to get to where you want to be but in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter and the feeling of getting your dream job, even if it take you an extra year or two, is indescribable. So don’t just settle for second best if you really want to work in investment baking there are a number of ways to get into the industry.
Thank you for reading and thank you to everyone who contributes to these forums – I have found them invaluable in navigating through to the recruitment process. I hope that the above is helpful I will be checking the forums for a couple of days after posting this and will be replying to PM’s but after that I am done with jobs forums, hopefully, for the foreseeable future.
Best of luck to everyone still applying / interviewing / waiting for outcomes