General Advice on Navigating Current Job Market (Canada)

I graduated from a top 3 target school in Canada and have been trying to land something FT for almost 9mths now. I have internship experience in M&A and S&T and want to break into IB (DCM/LevFin). I have networked extremely hard having talked with almost every shop in the country and interviewed for various different roles (nothing IB related) but haven’t gotten anything. I’m willing to take anything at this point.

My experience is seemingly niche especially my last internship which was a Fixed Income Trading role for a medium size fund in the US, and I feel like this is hindering my opportunities given no one knows or understands what I did nor do they have awareness of where I worked. I feel taking this job was a huge mistake and I have now fucked myself in attempting to enter into IB, and maybe even anything in finance given how many rejections I’ve gotten. Prior to that, my role in M&A was under a rollout strategy. My GPA isn’t the highest either sitting around ~3.6/4.3 and I feel this is heavily mitigating my chances, compounded with, what I’m beginning to think is inapplicable/useless job experience and I need to find something else to do.

I’ve genuinely hit rock bottom and have burnt out and I don’t know what to do anymore and need advice on how to navigate this shitstorm because it have really been fucking me over mentally. Also, I cannot afford to do an MBA or MFIN so that is out of the picture and I really need to begin to working to get out of debt. Would appreciate any advice on what to do.

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Navigating the job market, especially in competitive fields like Investment Banking (IB), can indeed be challenging and mentally taxing. Based on the WSO content and discussions, here are some strategic steps and considerations that might help you reframe your approach and potentially increase your chances of breaking into IB or finding a suitable role in finance:

  1. Leverage Your Internship Experience: While your last internship in Fixed Income Trading might seem niche, it's actually a valuable experience. Fixed Income is a critical component of the financial markets, and skills learned there are highly transferable. Emphasize the skills you gained, such as risk assessment, market analysis, and trading strategies, which are applicable to DCM and LevFin roles.

  2. Expand Your Networking Strategy: It sounds like you've done significant networking, but sometimes it's about finding the right advocate within a firm. Consider revisiting some of the connections you felt were most promising. Ask for feedback or advice on your approach and how you might better align with the roles you're interested in. Sometimes, a second interaction can open doors that were not previously visible.

  3. Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter: Given your diverse experiences in M&A and S&T, ensure that your resume and cover letters are tailored to highlight the most relevant skills for the jobs you are applying for. Use the language and key terms that align with the job descriptions. WSO resume review services could provide you with tailored advice to enhance your applications.

  4. Consider Adjacent Roles: If direct entry into IB is proving difficult, consider roles that are adjacent but still within the finance sector, such as corporate finance, financial analysis, or roles within smaller boutique firms that might value your niche experience more highly. These positions can serve as stepping stones and provide relevant experience that can be leveraged later to transition into IB.

  5. Focus on Skill Development: Continue to build on your skills, particularly those that are highly valued in IB, such as financial modeling, valuation, and Excel. WSO offers courses and certifications that could enhance your profile. Additionally, learning more about software and tools commonly used in IB could be beneficial.

  6. Mental Health and Resilience: The stress and mental toll of job searching should not be underestimated. Consider seeking support from career counselors, mentors, or mental health professionals who can provide strategies to manage stress and maintain resilience during this challenging time.

  7. Utilize Alumni Networks: As a graduate of a top target school, don't underestimate the power of your alumni network. Reach out to alumni who are working in IB or related fields, as they might provide insights, advice, or even referrals.

  8. Stay Informed and Be Persistent: The financial industry is dynamic, and new opportunities can arise unexpectedly. Stay informed about market trends and firm news, which can provide talking points for interviews and networking discussions.

Remember, each application and interaction is a step forward, even if it doesn't result in a job offer. Persistence and a willingness to adapt your strategy are key in such competitive markets.

Sources: Getting into Investment Banking late, IBD Barriers to Entry For Canadians and How to Overcome Them, DCM and LevFin in Canada, graduated may 2019 and recently laid off first job, How to break into investment banking for non experienced

I'm an AI bot trained on the most helpful WSO content across 17+ years.
 
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We both went to the same university. I can tell you right now that your experience and grades are not the problem. You’re overestimating how much firms give a shit about your undergrad work experience. In their eyes you’re all the same - you’re all new grads, finance internships or not you’re all the same. So don’t worry about whether you pigeonholed yourself or they can’t understand what you did. You’re not 20 years into your career.

Next, I’m assuming you’re trying to work in Toronto. I’m going to tell you right now that you’re up for a very difficult battle. It’s extremely competitive right now a lot of people have been fired, and there are a lot of people desperately looking for jobs who have work experience. So that’s why you’re not closing.

Next, don’t do a masters or an MBA. Going back to school is not gonna solve your problems.

Next, it’s best for you to understand that what you’re experiencing is the consequences of going into finance. ZIRP environments are not a reality. Before anyone and their mother could get a seat on the table. Now, like Rabbit said on this forum banks have to produce thoughtful ideas and can’t send every company to the financial markets for the sake of it. Times have changed which means that in addition to many people getting fired there are just less spots available for everyone. So if fired bankers are struggling to find a job why would they hire you? It doesn’t sound like you were on limestone and QUIC? Sorry to be harsh but the market is harsh on everyone right now.

Lastly, I want you to understand that you’re recruiting in Toronto. Canada is a village for finance. It’s not good enough. They’re like 5 to five to six banks that regularly hire and they’re mainly looking to backfill when they do hire.

If I were you, I would just find something else to do and get some more experience and network like crazy for the future. I would also consider looking at jobs elsewhere in the US and try. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not gonna get a job down there just try everything you can. You need to expand your horizons beyond Canada (Toronto).

I wish you the absolute best. I graduated in a difficult time as well and it took me a while to close.

 

Appreciate the advice and yes, not on any target clubs. Completely understand the macro and micro environment - have heard about all the layoffs throughout the year which has further saturated the market. Have heavily considered trying to get something going in the US, just a difficult path in terms of networking but definitely not impossible. Thanks again!

 

In the EXACT same boat as you, have been trying for FT roles since last August and still nothing. It's an exhausting process and really takes a toll on you mentally. Networking hasn't really done much for me either. Obviously I can't really give you much advice since I myself am struggling with the same situation, but really hope you can get through it man.

What I can say is that constant worrying only makes it worse. Try to allocate maybe an hour a day max looking for jobs, emailing people, applying, etc. but after that put it all away and go outside, gym, etc. This is the only thing that has kept me sane even while it feels like I'm at rock bottom right now. 

Also maybe look for other relevant roles in Finance like Equity Research, Corp Dev, etc. and try to lateral into IB later. Have seen a couple of these being posted around some big 5 recently. If you want to go the credit route (DCM/Levfin) I think Corporate Banking or Loan Syndications are good options. Of course the hiring market is super slow right now and even these roles barely have any openings, but might just be something to consider if they pop up. 

Someone else with more experience can probably give you better advice, but hope this helps! Best of luck! 

 

The job market is bad for most (younger) people right now in Canada regardless of whether they choose Finance. The unemployment statistics are mostly lies for the upcoming election(s). It is not just you. Congratulations though on your current internships. They should matter in the longer term. 

 

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