Dejected, Rejected from Dream Job.

Hey guys, I'm pretty down right now.

Yesterday I received an email that I was not being presented an offer for my dream job as a buy-side equity analyst at a value investing shop.

I'm not really sure what I'm hoping to get out this thread other than a place to vent, and maybe some advice on what to do going forward.

This rejection comes after 5 initial interviews, a 12 page stock report and Skype presentation and then 3 more interviews in person. I live on the west coast and was flown out to Toronto all expenses paid. I felt all 3 meetings were excellent, and was then notified a few days later that I had received positive feedback and advanced to the next step consisting of references and university transcripts. I had tried not to get ahead of myself but figured this step was routine. This was until yesterday, where I received an incredibly vague and generic email that I would not be presented an offer.

One of my three references is my current boss who I know spoke very highly of me, the other two I'm not as in close touch with (both were from prior internships) but find it unlikely they spoke poorly of me. My grades were slightly above average, this was the first time grades or transcripts were mentioned in any capacity throughout the interview process so again, I find it unlikely that they played a deciding factor. Now I'm back to playing the what if game, what didn't they like, what could I have done differently etc. While my job hunt starts again from scratch.

About me- I graduated December 2014 from a non-target, I completed 3 internships during undergrad and currently work in wealth management (team of two investment advisors, capital primarily allocated to mutual funds and ETFs) I have tried unsuccessfully to land a full time job as an investment analyst since graduating.

Value investing has always resonated the most with me, I've read countless books on the approach and have written several of my own research reports. As a result I have targeted junior analyst positions at primary at value shops. (I've gained minimal traction applying to sell-side research associate postings)

I really thought this was it and now its back to square one. I'm left wondering: should I move to Toronto without a job and continue to pound the pavement when I'm there? (this is something I did for a 2 week stretch in January), is a buy-side analyst position a pipe dream at this stage in my career? (I'm retaking CFA Level 2 in June) is there a job that I should be targeting as a stepping stone that I'm overlooking? Do I need to go do an MBA at a target school?

Again, I don't expect a magic answer but would appreciate any opinions people care to provide.

As I am based in Canada, I'm not sure how much overlap there would be with the US job market. I have interviewed with several of what I consider the best asset managers in Canada but feel like I fight such an uphill battle to compete with recent grads from target schools. Industry headcount is treading water at best and jobs are increasingly hard to come by.


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Comments (13)

Apr 10, 2016 - 10:31am

Reach out to those who interviewed you. Just ask them about your candidacy and what you could have improved on in the interview process because you are really passionate about the industry. Maybe they'll put you in touch with other shops.

Typically they'll tell you "it was down to 2 or 3 candidates and we decided to go with the other one" but the fact that they gave you a vague e-mail is slightly off. Either way, there is no downside to asking for advice on how to improve your interview skills.

Apr 11, 2016 - 1:33am

I feel for you. That is tough, and I am sure most of us on WSO have been there.

I think the CFA will be a huge help to getting you where you want to go. Also, as others have indicated, it may take time and feedback from those interviewers to perfect your pitch.

Does firm size matter? Location? You could try landing a job at a less-than-deal shop first and get the experience first before seeking a bigger opportunity. Are you comfortable with your materials? I am sure there are WSOers who will lend a helping hand.

Apr 11, 2016 - 3:50am

Recently finished 5 interviews from several rounds for a BB and didn't get an offer. If I knew where I went wrong I could work to improve but feedback is atypical for most candidates. It's really unprofessional to cut all contact like that but I'm sure there are practical reasons for it. Not even a "try again next year". I don't think anyone is surprised by your post Marlin.

When I was in school I couldn't even land interviews for operations or pwm due to my background. Think about that for a second.

Eventually I worked my way towards an equity research role and I'll take a shot at ib after an mba if I continue to get rejected. Investment banks have allowed their interview process to become what it is partially because it provides results and partially because they don't realize how to find and retain talent.

My point is that many of us have been there. I took an equity research job to at least have something while I try for IB in the future. You need to focus on how bad you want this and come up with a plan.

If you have to retake the CFA then try to ace it this time and start there. I would start getting active in your local CFA chapter and keep looking.

Apr 11, 2016 - 8:35am

Hopefully retaking the CFA exam (and acing it!) would boost your chances, mate.

If I were you I would just keep trying and gaining experience by working at another shop while finishing all CFA exams (easier said than done, I know). If the competition for my dream shop is still fierce by then, then I guess I would try going to business school.


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Best Response
Apr 11, 2016 - 9:55am

Listen man, its hard. I feel your pain. There are just way too many applicants and way too few slots to fill, the market has shrunk and consolidated a lot since the financial crisis.

You are doing the right things. Getting the CFA is a smart move and will make a difference. If you do move out to Toronto temporarily make sure to reach out to as many shops as you can early on and let them know you are in town and would just like to meet to learn more about them. Don't make it all about getting a job because then you'll get a lot of guys who don't want to waste your time. But at least if you meet with them you'll be a much better candidate if they do have something that opens up.

I've been on the buy-side at a hedge fund my entire career (about 10 years) but the fund I worked for closed down and now I have been out of work for over a year. In the beginning I thought there would be no issue finding a job. I thought I was a rock star having done well at a good fund and have an Ivy League degree. No MBA or CFA which I know hurts but I've done so much senior level work at a large hedge fund I thought that shouldn't matter. But I've been interviewing and there are so few real positions out there, especially at the mid/senior levels. I've even applied for more junior roles and sometimes been told that I'm basically just too experienced. I understand it from their end too. I was involved in hiring people for our firm for years and its not an easy thing to do. You get a ton of qualified applicants, most came from top schools, worked for name brand firms, etc. and just because we'd reject someone didn't mean they weren't extremely qualified to fit the role. Its just you narrow it down to a ton of applicants for one or two positions. We also always had senior people looking for work, often willing to take junior level roles. I kid you not we had so many Managing Directors from big banks and such who were laid off and it was clear they would take fairly junior roles because they couldn't find anything at the MD level anywhere.

It does especially suck when you went so many rounds with the firm and did a project for them only to wind up getting dinged. Personally I think it is ok to follow up with them in that scenario and ask what lead to their decision not to give you an offer. This is not the type of thing you can really ask places that give you one round or even two rounds but when you get to the final stages I think it is fair to ask.

Apr 11, 2016 - 12:32pm

Hi Marlin,

In my opinion, you have a good start that is for knowing what's your dream job is. Therefore, I would strongly encourage you for never ever give up on trying to get it.

When applying for job, the overall process and result would involves 3 parties:

  1. The Company (including the recruiter and hiring managers): What kind of candidates that they were looking for, what were the requirements, what method they use to compare and select, budget constraint (how many and how much), etc

  2. The Competitor: How many people were applying for it, how great were their transcripts, references, skills, experiences, etc

  3. Ourselves

The result that you were not presented an offer should be due to the above, however we should focus more on the "Ourselves" factor. Do the what-if game yourself first, if you had the opportunity to travel back in time, what would you do differently. Doing this self-analysis would be a priceless exercise and would enhance your self-confidence and self-esteem.

Getting feedback from others (for example what you did through this forum) is also a good move.
From your post, you mentioned that you had received positive feedback on the earlier interviews, stock report and skype presentation process. The end result however was not as expected after references and university transcripts process. Well nothing can be done on transcripts, while on the other two references from prior internships, you might could plan to get in touch with them more often (if possible) to enhance your relationship, especially if you plan to have them as your references again in the future. Get deeper feedback from them while having a chat.

Other plans with regard CFA, MBA at a target school, etc, I would say just plan it well and go for it. While we still have the youth strength in the first 10 years of our professional career, "sowing and investing" to ourselves with better skills and more credentials could be a good foundation and strategy for long-term success.

Last but not least, be kind to yourself whenever getting rejected in some way, engage in positive self talk and encourage yourself for the future. Keep in mind that success is determined by the ability to rebound from any setbacks.

Wish you the best success on getting your dream job!

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Apr 11, 2016 - 2:52pm

That's a tough pill to swallow. But let's look at the positives:

You got excellent interview experience, and without knowing it, increased your value. You were able to get looked at, which is the hardest part in many instances. This should give you some confidence. Pass Level II and put that behind you. The worst thing you can do is put your head down and feel like shit. A lot of people (myself included) have been in your place, and the best thing you can do is really focus on what you did well during this process and continue to build upon that.

Apr 13, 2016 - 10:25am

Your journey has just began, it is all about having a winning attitude, so what they said no, that means nothing, you are the master of your ship and nobody, nobody can tell you are are not good enough unless you tell yourself that. These things happen for a reason, we just do not see it right away, as one door closes multiple new one open, reset your sail and navigate to a better shore! There are other opportunities and other ways to get what you want, keep pushing!

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Apr 13, 2016 - 12:22pm

Everyone's already offered some good advice. One thing I'd add is that that 12 page stock report will be super helpful when networking for positions at other funds - it'd look great sending such detailed analysis that exemplifies your work product before you even reach the interview stage.

You're in a good spot, and one day closer to your victory.

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Apr 14, 2016 - 4:59am

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