Back when I wasassociate positions, I was really struggling. Only a handful of positions per year opened in my industry, so I got very good at making the most of each application. I got to the point where if there was an opening, I had a 50% chance or better of landing the interview.
Here are 3 tips which were game-changers for my applications. When I made these changes, my percentage of replies and follow ups increased noticeably. Note that I would always personally contact the analyst through e-mail and never went through HR.
1. Pass CFA Level I
I've seen a lot of discussion on here about usefulness of the CFA. It's not a question of CFA or no CFA. If you just pass Level I, you will get a lot more attention from employers - you don't need the whole CFA this early in your career. Great if you do have it, but CFA Level I is enough. The great part is that it's really easy. Level I basically tests whether you learned what you should have learned in undergrad business school. Yes, sadly the pass rate isn't that high.....
2. Attach a model
Create an intensive model. Something that is going to take you weeks to build. It doesn't have to be correct. The model just has to show that you are putting in the work and are thinking critically about modeling issues. If someone flips through the tabs for 30 seconds, they should recognize that the model took a lot work, is very well organized, and its is thought out. In hindsight, the models that I sent were 100% wrong for my industry. Nonetheless, they still got me more interviews.
3. Writing Sample
Send a writing sample preferably something published somewhere whether it's an academic journal, the school newspaper, Huffington Post, whatever. I can't stress how important writing is to the job. I would rather hire someone from a target school that could write really well than someone from Harvard with a 4.0 and no writing ability. That's one reason that you will see a lot of non-targets in ER. You need a very specific combination of skills. for ER Just because you went to a target doesn't mean you have that exact combination.
If you do the above, you have shown that you know finance, know how to model, and can write. That should really check all of the boxes for any ER analyst looking for an associate. If there is more interest, I'll try to write one of these ER-related posts each week. Please do recommend any other topics of interest.