Nine Months of Soul-Crushing Unemployment - Advice Needed

Hi all,

About nine months ago, I was let go from my first post-grad position at a small RIA (a story that I shared here previously). I've since met up with my former boss a few times, and he confirmed that my position was eliminated - they haven't hired anyone in my place. That being said, my job search in the past nine months has been an absolute misery. I have been ghosted more times than I can count, showed up at final rounds only to find out I was totally unqualified to begin with, and had not one, but two separate offers fall through due to internal company reasons.

To give you a little more background, I have some experience in corp dev (six months as a intern, and few more as a contracted Analyst) for a small to mid-size firm, and a little over a year at the RIA prior to my layoff. Believe it or not, I had actually secured a full-time offer for the corp dev role out of school, but the pay was low enough to be barely livable in my city. I now sorely regret turning them down.

Finding another job has been a shockingly difficult experience. I feel like I've interviewed for everything under the sun - ops roles at local credit unions, small investment banks, real estate funds etc. I've made plenty of final rounds (and obviously the two offers that didn't work out), but everything has somehow found a way to fall through in the end. That being said, I have managed to distill a couple insights as to what might be holding me back:

  1. Background
    Honestly, I feel like this is the primary problem. My resume gets me tons of phone screens/interviews, but when I finally get in front of the hiring manager, it's usually a different story. Once I describe my previous experience, I usually have to overcome the "You might be bored here" objection. I always try to have a coherent and convincing "story" behind my application, but it's still a tough sell a lot of the time. It's hard NOT to look desperate when you've been unemployed for over six months, and no one wants an employee that's going to jump ship in three months when a sexier opportunity shows up. I certainly understand their skepticism. I'm a pretty good interviewee, but Investment Analyst to Ops at a local bank is a hard story to spin at the best of times. I generally try to draw parallels between my previous responsibilities
  2. Skillset (or lack thereof)
    This has only affected me in a small number of cases, but it's enough to be worth noting. The vast majority of my interviews have been fit-based, and I'm usually able to speak intelligently enough about my prior responsibilities that I don't get many technical questions or shit-tests during interviews. That being said, neither of my previous roles involved much financial modeling. In corp dev, most of my job was just scanning CIMs, putting together internal pitchdecks for the Board and dataroom/diligence tracking. As far as my year at the RIA, we were a wealth manager first and foremost. We did invest directly, but the rigor of analysis was nowhere close to a true AM/HF kind of shop. If you'll believe it, we weren't even building operating models for the companies we owned. Even full-on equity research is doing pretty poorly as an industry right now, much less the watered-down version on my CV. I've obviously been doing some self-study/Macabacus stuff, but it honestly seems like I'd need to look into one of the paid courses for any real improvement. Again, #1 above has been a much bigger issue across the board.
  3. Location
    This one is more of a "maybe", but sometimes I do wonder. I'm currently in DC, and I'm wondering whether staying here is making things harder. I've only ever recruited in this area, but it's not exactly a financial hub, and some people seem to think that it's a particularly brutal job market. I don't tend to focus on this kind of stuff, but it's worth considering.

So anyhow, that's the gist of my situation. Definitely open to any and all suggestions, though I'm also just venting here. And finally, a word of caution to any hopeful undergrads that may come across this: Give some thought to the longevity of your career field out of school as well as how transferable your skills are. So much of the stuff you read online (on this forum and others) is laser-focused on getting a job in finance. There's precious little content focused on what to do when that opportunity doesn't work out. It's something I wish I had considered more carefully a few years ago, and I'm paying the price for it now.

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Comments (9)

Dec 12, 2018 - 11:51pm

It sounds like you don't have enough experience to propel you to the next level of your skill set as you haven't really developed a skill set yet.

How broad is your search? Have you gone nationwide?

You might have to go back to working something like an unpaid internship or 3 month temp to hire to get your foot back in the door. Its going to have to be something with low risk to the company hiring you. If you get a FT offer at this point, it might just still be entry level.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 2
Dec 13, 2018 - 3:21am

Yeah, pretty much every position I've interviewed for has been either entry level or only 1-2 years experience required. Still waiting to hear back from a couple onsites, so maybe something will come through in the meantime.

Haven't gone nationwide yet, though I've gradually been expanding my geographic bounds North and South. I'm two years out of school though, so I'm not sure if anyone would really consider taking me on as an intern

Most Helpful
Dec 13, 2018 - 8:20am

I'm two years out of school though, so I'm not sure if anyone would really consider taking me on as an intern

If you're willing to do hard work for free to prove yourself, anyone will take you on if they need help with the extra work. Sometimes its hard though to even convince someone to let you work for free though because it is costing them time to teach you their experience. This this the price of a good internship for you - getting that good work experience cranking with some fresh recommendations so that even if it doesn't pan out at that place (maybe they don't have the budget to hire you) - they might know someone else at another firm and can recommend.

You should apply to every spot open in NYC right now (large market for jobs) and just start taking the bus or plane back and forth for interviews. Internships, temp-to-hire, entry level, 1-2 years experience ... should probably be around 500+ applications. Put it in an excel sheet and get organized and just make it very methodical and you should eventually find something.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 5
Dec 17, 2018 - 8:55pm

That's definitely somewhere I haven't tried. In your experience, do they tend to be open to less traditional candidates? My impression was that online apps for Big 4 roles tend to be black holes, but that's only based on some limited personal experience.

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Dec 17, 2018 - 9:08pm

also....fwiw...uber drivers in major cities make $25-30/hour....doing that will pay the rent and put food on the table while you are job searching.

just google're welcome
Dec 17, 2018 - 10:36pm

I would say that you are definitely holding yourself back by sticking strictly around the DC area. Spread your net nationwide, keep expanding on your skills, and just keep chugging along with the process. Also, be sure to continue networking, reaching out to every person that will talk with you. Apply for every job you can that interests you even if you are slightly unqualified. Your last 9 months sound absolutely brutal but all it takes is one offer, and all your work will pay off.

Best of luck to you!

Dec 18, 2018 - 6:56am

I agree with the above statements re: widening the net. Nationwide may be biting off too much (you won't be able to track all of your apps, and don't apply somewhere - say Chicago or LA - unless you're 100% serious you want to make the move, otherwise it's a waste of valuable energy).

I say widening the net both N and S is great. Maybe try to prioritise which cities you'd like best. NYC has the biggest finance market so start there first, maybe then Boston - there's more than you think there and if you build yourself up in Boston you could go back to NYC later on. Another option is Charlotte as Wells has many positions there and they're a big employer.

Best of luck!

Feb 27, 2020 - 8:26pm

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