AskMe: On Networking and Getting a Job in Finance

AskMe-post

How do you research your desired companies, what questions can you ask in networking events and what do you do when you don’t have much local work experience?

One of our readers, Teresa, posted this question.

Hi Dominic,

I will be attending a couple of networking sessions with big companies and career fair next month. I’m just wondering apart from conducting research on the companies involved, any other ways that allow me to get to know more about them and the industry? I realise I am always lack of questions to ask during networking sessions. Could you please give me some examples on questions that are usually being asked when engaging with the potential employers?

Another question I would like to enquire is how to get my desire job in Australia. I’m interested in banking or finance industry such as corporate finance. I’m from Malaysia and I had internship in one of the accounting firms in audit deparment back in Malaysia. How can I make that valuable to my future employers here considering that my work experience is in Accounting but not Finance area.

Thank you so much for your advice.

Teresa’s question is actually comprised of 3 parts. Let’s break them down and work through them together.

1. I’m just wondering apart from conducting research on the companies involved, any other ways that allow me to get to know more about them and the industry?

Regarding doing research on companies which you want to work in and are interested in, there are a couple of ways to go about doing it:

a. Visit their websites. Read up about the plans and projects which they did, are currently doing and will be embarking on. Also, find out what the company believes in and what they stand for – their values, culture, vision and mission, etc.

b. Search them up on Google. Read up on what others have been saying about them. You might be able to chance upon articles, blog posts, white papers, research reports, etc which the companies have been featured in.

c. Get in touch with the relevant professional prior to the networking event. For example, if you are interested in working with Accenture, do a search on LinkedIn with the keyword “Accenture”, filter it down to your state/location and then search through the list of professionals who are in your desired role.

You can then reach out to a particular management consultant to request to be connected on LinkedIn and then start asking some questions which are covered in the 2nd part.

2. Could you please give me some examples on questions that are usually being asked when engaging with the potential employers?

This is an excellent question because you not only want to have enthusiasm and curiosity during the networking event, but also sufficient conversational ammunition to engage in fruitful and meaningful dialogue.

Some questions which I suggest include:

  • What does your day to day look like? [The equivalent of asking “What do you do in your job?”]
  • If you wanted to break into your industry, what would you do? [The equivalent of asking “How do I get to where you are right now?”]
  • What are a few common entry level jobs in your company/industry? [The equivalent of asking “What are some jobs available right now which a fresh graduate (with no/little work experience) can apply for?”]
  • What next steps would you recommend me to take? [The equivalent of asking “I don’t really know what my next steps are. Do you have any suggestions?”]
  • Would you know of any available openings/opportunities? [The equivalent of asking “Do you have a job for me?” or “Is your company hiring?”]

Apart from these, here are some other questions which you could use. Feel free to amend them to suit your needs/situation.

  • “I recently read about XYZ Consulting’s endeavour in helping ABC Charity cut costs by 25% and exceed their fundraising target by 70%. I’m really interested in it because I was volunteering in a nonprofit while in uni. Could you tell me more about this?”
  • “What made you want to work in XYZ Consulting? What are some of the highlights and challenges in your role?”
  • “I’m sure you understand that the job search process isn’t the easiest thing in the world – since you’ve been there yourself. What tips and suggestions would you give to your juniors then?”

3. How can I make that valuable to my future employers here considering that my work experience is in Accounting but not Finance area?

So you mentioned that you’re from Malaysia and had an internship in one of the accounting firms in an audit deparment back in Malaysia.

One major mindset roadblock which many international students and job seekers have is that they feel that they are less qualified because they don’t have local Australian work experience.

If you feel that you are stuck in this situation, stop putting yourself down and stop seeing yourself as less employable compared to local job seekers.

Instead, start to look at your own work experience and find ways to let that value shine and show how it can be transferred to the job you are applying for in Australia.

In your case, you did an internship in an accounting firm (called ABC Company – for example) in Malaysia.

Good start. However, if I’m the employer and have not heard of ABC Company, then I won’t see much of the value in your work experience.

With this, you’ll need to tell me more about ABC Company and what your role there is about.

To do this, you can make your work experience stand out by including the following information:

  • How big is ABC Company? Is it a multi-national company? Is it listed company in Malaysia? How many employees does it have? How big is the scale of its projects? Does it have reputable brands as its clientele?
  • What about your role? Don’t just mention what you did, talk about the results and outcomes which you delivered while working in ABC Company.
  • What transferrable skills do you have? Don’t just mention them, include evidence and solid examples as well. For instance, if you say that you developed “leadership and teamwork skills”, how is that evidenced in your job? Did you lead and manage a team of 10 to exceed organisational goals by 15%?

Additionally, if you happened to be asked “Do you have local (Australian) work experience?” by the employer or interviewer, there are 2 ways you can answer it.

A. “Erm, nope. I don’t have local work experience.”

B. “While I do not have local work experience yet, I did have the opportunity to do an internship with a reputable accounting firm back in Malaysia. The company’s called ABC Company and one of its clients is the country’s largest telecommunications provider. In my intership stint, I was involved in conducting financial audits for the telecom provider’s engineering department, which has over 100 staff and it was then involved in a $20 mil project to enhance cellphone signal strengths in underground subways and tunnels.”

Remember, never let your lack of local work experience prevent you from truly communicating your worth and value which you can bring to your future employers.

I hope this answers your questions.

If you have a careers-related question, feel free to post it here and I’ll get it answered.

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