One of the most effective ways of landing a hedge fund job is to interview for a job that doesn’t exist. If that sounds counter-intuitive, then check out a recent article in Forbes about mastering the “informational” interview.
More people land jobs through these informal interviews than formal job-openings, according to Sarah Stamboulie, a New York career coach who’s worked at Morgan Stanley and Cantor Fitzgerald, and has been a career coach at Columbia University.
The trick is to get a chance to speak with someone in your target company, either through a personal or business contact. Then to approach the informational interview as if you were a consultant on a fact-finding mission.
Stamboulie tells her clients to do extensive research on the company, the person and the market beforehand. Then to use that research in an email requesting a meeting. She encourages people to write at length about why they are interested in the company, what they admire about its strategy, how the company or department handled a particular challenge, and to write a bit about the person whom they hope to meet.
“Your email isn’t about how great you are,” says Stamboulie. “The bulk of the email is about why you want to meet with the friend or colleague. You need to make it clear you’ve done some grown-up research.”
Once in the interview, ask lots of questions about the company, its needs, and most importantly, what opportunities are being lost. Act as if you are a consultant trying to figure out how to help the company improve its business. Your goal, says Stamboulie, is to determine how your skills may somehow overlap with the company’s needs or areas of opportunity.
As an example, if you speak a foreign language or have worked overseas, ask about the company’s business in that region and see if your skills could expand opportunities for them.
Of course, there is also the chance that making a personal connection will lead to a job. One client of Stamboulie’s went for an informational interview at a hedge fund that he considered out of reach. Yet the manager was a Frenchman living in London who loved French food and wine. So did the candidate. The two hit it off on a personal level and a job eventually materialized.
Which is the whole point of informational interviews. Companies are always thinking about hiring. They may not have a formal job opening at that precise time, and many jobs are never actually posted. But these informational interviews get you on the radar screen and can lead to opportunities.
What about you? Do you have a careful strategy for developing informational interviews at your target hedge fund firms? Add your comments below.