Advice for getting an entry-level capital markets job 4 years out of school and far away from target city?

I apologize for the long rant ahead of time but I'm posting this in part as a way to just vent my frustration and maybe get some advice in the process...

I graduated in 2013 with a BComm majoring in Finance from UofA. I've since completed the Chartered Financial Analyst program. I just wrote level 2 of the FRM last week. I've worked 2 years in Project Controls for a pipeline company, then another 2 doing $1MM-3MM commercial lending for a large bank.

I've spent the last year applying to jobs online, calling people and using every resource at my disposal to try and get an entry-level CM job in Toronto but I can't even get a phone interview. I've mostly been applying to IB Analyst, CB Analyst and Equity Researcher Associate roles. I have also applied to some other misc applicable industry jobs and other financial roles. The actual role is less important to me than the tasks involved. I'm looking for a teamwork based position (with people I like working with of course) that requires cutting-edge analytical skills and allows for freedom/ingenuity in problem solving. The faster paced the better. My idea of work-life balance is for work to be my life. I'm seeking that in finance because that's where my knowledge is focused in and where my skills would actually be useful.

I currently work in a small town. All the professional networks I've made have no connection to any sort of capital markets role. I've had a couple phone interviews and one in-person interview in Calgary but my heart isn't even set in Calgary. My plan was always to get a job in Calgary then use it to leverage a job in Toronto but that was the plan 4 years ago. I've moved between 3 different cities in the last 2 years.

I really want to put some roots down and I know Calgary isn't the city for me. I'm tired of working jobs I don't want to do in an attempt to get a job I'm already technically qualified to do and I'm tired of living in cities I don't want to live in. I want to make the transition into a job I want and a city I want to live in so I can start living my life in the now. I might have room for one more stepping stone job/city but it's getting hard on my mental health. I'm finding it difficult to make good friendships/relationships with people and I've lost friendships/relationships just because it's difficult to maintain them when I don't live in the same city. I still have made friends/connections but I don't feel attached.

I had a decent in-person interview for a large company for equity research and the director was pretty open to me about the fact that after some discussion it became apparent that my experience just wanted good enough. That seems to be where I'm at. I have all the intelligence/knowledge for these jobs but I do need experience.

I don't know how to get the experience to get the experience given that I don't have experience when everyone wants experience (and they can get it because there's so many experience people especially in Calgary looking for work). I'm willing to spend 18 hours a day working and I can learn anything I need to learn in a short time frame as well. I just need someone willing to extend an opportunity and I'm seeking advice on how to convince people, specifically in Toronto (though I would be open to East Coast American cities) to give me a shot. Also, money is tight due to some bad personal choices such as a failed marriage which limits what I cannot accept and I cannot accept a job paying less than $80k Canadian all-in for the next 2-3 years.

Am I targeting the wrong jobs? Is there a secret password in my cover letter I'm missing? Are there certain questions over the phone I can ask that might intrigue the person I'm talking to instead of getting shut down? Is there another route to a career I should instead be focused on? Any advice would be welcome, thanks.

Comments (3)

Nov 22, 2017

Good luck on your graduate school applications.

Nov 22, 2017

Thanks but I'll probably need another undergrad first before I can apply into a graduate CS/Stats program though. As if I'm going to waste $300k on an MBA given the experience of trying to break into the finance industry I've already had.

Nov 22, 2017
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