As a college student, it is very normal to change your major and to venture into different career paths only to find you would rather try something else. As you navigate your passions and goals you can sometimes fall into holding jobs that do not fit into the field you are hoping to enter once you graduate college. Take me as an example. I came to Stanford as a hopeful pre-med and pursued it for about two years before realizing that I wanted to go into business. Unfortunately, all of my previous work experiences involved working in labs or hospitals-- no business or finance. I found myself entering into my junior year without any work experience or knowledge that was related to the job I wanted to have. Even with having a school like Stanford on my resume I felt bogged down with doubt about the future I had in finance. To my surprise, I found that when I looked at job descriptions for the internships I wanted, I had developed the basic skills and qualities they were looking for in a candidate through the work I had already done for previous jobs.
My resume at the time was suited to secure more research jobs in medicine, meaning it highlighted the work I had performed with patients, my contributions to certain medical methodologies, and things of that nature. However, with some tweaking, I was able to highlight other experiences of my medical jobs to appeal more to financial employers. For example, instead of talking about the patient interactions I had with a pediatric hospital I talked about the work I had done with analyzing and digitizing medical records. The job on my resume was the same but the skills I listed that I developed were different and it gave me much more latitude when in interviews with finance firms. I ended up securing five offers from multiple firms in one quarter with no previous business experience nor any economics or finance classes. So if you’re like me and feel that you’re too late in the game to switch careers or even if you feel your job experiences in finance don’t quite measure up to the level of skill you need to have in order to secure a job at a top finance firm, allow me to put your mind at ease with some tips below.
1. Your resume is a reflection of you but should also be a reflection of the qualities your employer wants to see in a candidate. Take the time to go through every job on your resume and quantify and qualify more meaningful results that would make your employer easily understand how you could be an asset to their company.
2. Don’t let the fear of a big name company deter you from applying. Companies are looking for candidates with a variety of experiences and knowledge and skills, so use the experiences you have to your advantage and highlight how a different path to finance helps you more in the long run.
3. Your resume gives you the power to present the image you want to your employer --take advantage of it. This is not a direction to fabricate experiences from your job, because the things you have in your resume are things you will be expected to be able to carry out and back up on the job. This tip is to say that no
employer knows exactly what you got out of a certain job experience and if you don’t take the time to explain what skills you developed that are out of the realm of what someone would stereotypically expect from the job you listed, you’re hurting your chances of success with them. In other words, they don’t know what you can bring to the table based on an experience you had so make sure you tell them.
4. Your resume is your greatest asset in an interview -- use it. In interviews, think of your resume as your own personal cheat-sheet. While an employer may ask you not to give an overview of your resume, rest assured they want to know what the experiences you listed did for you, and in return what they will do for them. When studying for an interview make sure you have figured out ways to highlight different characteristics you developed with the job experiences you put on your resume and work them into the conversation when a question allows. The more you know your resume the easier it is to talk yourself up using it.
5. Take advantage of outlets that can help you perfect your resume. When I decided to pursue finance I became a resident of the BEAM office at Stanford. The BEAM office is a place that connects students with career educators, alumni, and employers, spanning across every career known to man. They have private appointments for resumes, interviews, and cover letters for every industry and all of it is free. I also relied on people who had been employed in financial firms to critique my resume and would definitely recommend doing that, preferably someone who works at the company you would like to join. Finally, if you are reading this article you must be familiar with SWIBU and they have articles that teach you all the keys to a perfect resume that is sure to get you noticed by a recruiter!