It’s raining resumes

For the first time in my professional career I had an opportunity to review resumes for the position that I am vacating. It is a junior trading/admin position at a small family office hedge fund focusing on systematic trading strategies. Imagine being the junior level person at a start-up, you are expected to take care of all the small things as well as contribute to primary responsibilities.

Let me first say first off that there is a lot of talent looking for work. The quality of applicants and the pedigree of these people was humbling to say the least. Lehman, SocGen, Harvard, Cornell, Soros, First New York Securities, and a host of other recognizable names applied for this position. The majority of candidates seemed to be sell-siders and I was surprised that there were as few ‘entry’ level candidates or those with little experience. I would have thought for a position of this nature it would have been highly skewed however there could be other reasons for that.

Secondly, everyone’s resume looks the same! After looking at the first ten or so, your eye’s begin to glaze over and UBS exotic derivatives trader doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore. Additionally the type and font size are usually small enough to be almost annoying. In all honesty, I probably only read one or two sentences on some of these resumes and that was usually the company name since it was the text that was bolded.

Also there were a number of multiple page resumes, I didn’t read any of the 2nd or 3rd page. I also did not read any cover letters or recommendations.

The few resumes I did stop at were mainly to see if I recognized the person. There was one resume that may have been one of those ‘friend of a friend of a friend” type deals. I also stopped at a few prop traders from firms I recognized but only glanced or looked for PERFORMANCE numbers. Only one person provided that from the prop traders. I only noticed one resume from my alma mater and I did stop to review that, again to see if I recognized the person.

This was actually a very important experience and I believe I picked up a lot of important information being on the other side of hiring. Although I’ve read the advice many times, its not until you experience a situation do you truly understand or internalize information. You can read books your whole life but until you DO something, you can never really understand it. This is important to trading as well.

So here is a list of things I did learn:

  1. You must differentiate your resume VISUALLY, put graphics, header or logo, different font, something when I’m flipping through to catch my eye.
  2. The text written is basically useless so only write was is really relevant to the position. If it’s an alpha generating position, the top of your resume should include performance numbers. Put in a small equity curve to differentiate as in point 1 above. Cut out the fat and for goodness sake use larger, readable font.
  3. I know a lot of these financial firms focus on GPA, Ivy League, SAT scores, etc. I have no idea why…well I do but it’s foolish in my opinion as you cut down on a whole segment of the candidate pool that can offer skills others may not be able to. On the occasional few I did glance at education I looked to see if I recognize the school, perhaps the year, but could care less about anything else.  Instead focus on accomplishments pertinent to the position as in point 2 above. If the organization has an HR department, try to go around them. And btw, I did attend a top tier University.
  4. Even though we are reviewing resumes, the position is much more likely to goto an individual the current employees know or put forward rather then a random resume. I can almost assure you that there are more qualified people in the pool but if someone was to goto bat for a candidate that job is more or less assured to that person. This is an absolutely critical distinction-your network is your most important asset, not your resume! Your network is more  important than your resume.
  5. If you do get an interview, bring a few copies with you to hand out, it looks bad if you don’t.
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~ by largecaptrader on October 8, 2009.

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