Seeking Advice - Laid off 6 months ago and not landing a new job...

Got laid off after my pod shut down about 6 months ago, and have not been able to land a new seat as a quant researcher since. 

I was doing stat arb in U.S equities over the last 2-3years and have strategies that were as high as sharpe 2+, with holding period of about a week. Which I thought was pretty decent. I have been landing interviews and got pretty close a couple of times, only to be eventually rejected. 

Is the market that bad now or are my track record simply not good enough? Any advice for me?

Comments (29)

 
Jan 20, 2021 - 9:28pm

I'm really sorry to hear that...HF recruiting can be really brutal and many people fall through the cracks. Was a garden leave part of your past 6 months? Would your ex-PM be able to bring you over to wherever he/she ends up? 

2-3 years of experience and high Sharpe + mid-freq is definitely more than enough, and you may even be able to convince a MM to take a flier on you as a PM/junior PM. I don't think the market for quants is bad right now; some of the big shops have been struggling a bit, but many players have made great returns. Have you talked to WorldQuant? They crushed 2020 and are likely looking to hire people w your background. 

Regardless, I would just keep my head down and not get dissuaded by early rejections-patience pays off in the end. If I were a betting man (which I am), I would guess that you will bounce back very strongly. 

 
Jan 21, 2021 - 1:18pm

I mean, be very careful of worldquant in general. I would not go there unless you have 5-7 years of experience at least.

There was a article on efinancialnews about how junior quants are getting screwed right now b/c people don't want to handhold during WFH.

Use a few more recruiters. Look for prop/HFT firms as well. There's always quant jobs asset managers/banks/tech if you need income or insurance. 

Array
 
Jan 21, 2021 - 1:29pm

wattoscredits

I'm really sorry to hear that...HF recruiting can be really brutal and many people fall through the cracks. Was a garden leave part of your past 6 months? Would your ex-PM be able to bring you over to wherever he/she ends up? 

2-3 years of experience and high Sharpe + mid-freq is definitely more than enough, and you may even be able to convince a MM to take a flier on you as a PM/junior PM. I don't think the market for quants is bad right now; some of the big shops have been struggling a bit, but many players have made great returns. Have you talked to WorldQuant? They crushed 2020 and are likely looking to hire people w your background. 

Regardless, I would just keep my head down and not get dissuaded by early rejections-patience pays off in the end. If I were a betting man (which I am), I would guess that you will bounce back very strongly. 

Could you please explain why would garden leave as part of the 6 months gap would make any difference? Just curious thank you

 
Jan 21, 2021 - 2:20pm

Well if you have a 1 year garden leave for example, a 6 month stretch of no offers would not be a big deal, as you are still getting paid during that time and do not qualify as "unemployed." It is also much harder to get hired if you have a long stretch of the noncompete remaining before you join, PMs don't want to wait 9 months before an analyst would join--they don't even know if they'll be around then!

Beyond that, there's a signaling component to a garden leave. If you exit a firm that is notorious for enforcing noncompetes, and they elected to not enforce yours (or cut down substantially), that sends a strong signal that your former employer fired you and/or does not think highly of the IP you may have been exposed to. 

 
Most Helpful
  • PM in HF - RelVal
Jan 21, 2021 - 3:32pm

I've interviewed many junior quants and generally I find them to be quite naive. They will tend to overstate their contributions and be extremely overoptimistic in their assessment of performance and individual contribution.

Case in point, if you are realizing a Sharpe of 2+ at any sort of scale, you would probably be in the top 10% of risk adjusted performers at any of the large MM. If that was true then why wouldn't your PM have allocated more to your strategies and therefore not blow up? If you were so good then why didn't the platform keep you on with your strategies. I can guarantee that whichever platform you were at not many PMs were realizing a Sharpe north of 2  

Moreover, if you are claiming to have Sharpe 2+ strategies you better be able to back it up with a very solid understanding of your process, drawdowns, capacity, limitations of your strategy and general quant trading concepts. If you get tripped up on any detailed questions or concepts that will be an auto ding. 

I'm not 100% sure but maybe it's this that is limiting you in the job hunt. Most quants are full of sh*t and can't back up their grandiose claims with actual evidence or deep understanding of the process. 

 
  • VP in S&T - FI
Jan 21, 2021 - 4:12pm

would you hire a former rates trader as a sub-PM, worked at a bank 10 years ago and have a strategy that would perform well in today's markets.  Semi-systematic, but not fully....still ultimately a "manual" rates trader?    Trading 10yr notes, 5 / 10 / 30 curve and fly...

 
  • PM in HF - RelVal
Jan 21, 2021 - 4:46pm

I wouldn't even hire someone who hasn't been industry for 1 year, so would stay far away from someone who has been out for 10. Trading your PA has literally zero value to me and most others in the industry

 
  • PM in HF - RelVal
Jan 21, 2021 - 4:44pm

Being secretive about signals is a classic junior mistake. People who have been around the industry long enough know that there are no secret signals. Everything you will say in an interview has been said and done before. The real edge in quant lies in the infrastructure and details in the process. 

If you can reveal your trading secrets in an hour long interview, then you don't really have an edge. 

 
  • Research Analyst in HF - EquityHedge
Jan 21, 2021 - 4:48pm

Prepare one signal in detail that worked in the past and doesnt anymore that you are willing to share (be upfront about that with the interviewer). If the person is genuinely interested in hiring you, they would want to find out what your research process is like and how do you ensure your signals are robust. If after hearing all that, that person insists on you pointing out signals that work, you know what's going on. 

 
  • Quant in HF - EquityHedge
Jan 21, 2021 - 11:54pm

OP here. The PM was a bit of a jackass, and allocated mostly to the folks that he brought over from his previous pod. Main argument was that they had more experience than me. Reasonable, except that the people with the largest allocation also had below average performance over the 3 years I was there. One blew up at least twice a year, every year and still had at least an equivalent book as me. 

Not sure how things work at your platform, but for mine it is not typical to let go of a pod while retaining some people. Probably because of IP rights. The platform also does not have details of how individuals within a pod performed, only the PM and members of the pod do.

 
Jan 22, 2021 - 6:18am

for ex. send founder of company my resume and say I want to work for the company. founder says I see you have some experience with this thing, how would you do this thing for us? outline basic strategy for him. he likes basic strategy and thinks it sounds smart. i start working on basic strategy in my free time for the next week until i have a meeting with someone else in the company, then in my meeting with this other person i can say okay i just spent the past week starting to execute this strategy that i laid out and here are my results so far. worse case you spent a week helping them out and built some goodwill best case they give you a job. not sure if you can do something similar to this in HF just an idea. also have done crazy shit to try and get attention of someone on a submitted app but that was for a startup too and probably wouldn't really work for a HF

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