Getting a financial services job is easy, no sweat in this hot market. However, getting the right financial services job is nerve-wracking. The added layers of anxiety, fear, anger, and confusion from the pandemic have made job search today a real challenge. In what follows, I will explain how to minimize anxiety during your job search.

Staying in the same job and career track with an eventual title bump and 10% yearly increase in compensation just won’t cut it for so many of us. This is the hottest job market in history! By definition if you have been in your position more than 2 years, you are underpaid.

Getting the right job and reducing stress means:

1. Networking to find the intersection of what you want and where the market wants for you
2. Designing your resume and LinkedIn profile with one aim in mind, telling your story
3. Directing the interview process to bring your story to 3-dimensional light

My thoughts surround the famous quote by Sun Tzu:

“Every battle is won before it’s ever fought.”

Information is the secret weapon. By gathering key information in the strategic part of your search, you will both minimize anxiety during your job search and have the knowledge to win the war before you fight. Aren’t we all looking for certainty?

Take it from this financial services career coach who has employed all 3 of the following tips to land a 9-figure job at Credit Suisse, all the while reducing stress:

• Create a job search strategy
• Execute with a clear path
• Supplement with the breathing exercises

Job search strategy

Just setting a job search strategy can help you feel so much better

Maybe you are a finance professional on the sell-side wanting to pivot to the buy-side, or a financial services software engineer who is great at coding but now wants a product manager job. Perhaps you are really curious about this thing called “FinTech” but need some clarity as to where you belong or what role you can play. Maybe you are just confused overall.

The value of market validation

Please don’t just dive into the job search pool without the first step of market validation. I have never seen anyone buy a house without checking out comparables. I have never seen anyone get married without checking out their partner. However, why do so many job seekers jump into the process without understanding first what the market thinks of their move?

Discovering market views involves work on your part, including putting yourself out there to talk to people who have the roles you want, but it will ultimately minimize anxiety during your job search.

If you set out without market validation one of two things is likely to happen:

a. You will have lots of nice ad hoc conversations, but you won’t really understand where you can satisfy your career objectives
b. You will take a new role and find out rather quickly that the culture is no good and that others made a better move.

For more information on the dangers of accepting your first job offer without doing market validation, check out another of my newsletter editions “Taking the First Job Offer Could Cost You $30k or More and Damage Your Long-Term Career.

Market validation will calm your nerves since you will reduce the uncertainty when you start your job search. None of us likes uncertainty. However, everything is discoverable.

Market validation in practice

Market validation is networking for information, not a direct line to a job. Information is powerful, and you can get what you need. Whatever question you have, others can answer.

Get networking conversations with business professionals that are doing the jobs you think you would enjoy at companies you never would work for. Save the conversations with the companies you want to work with for official interviews. Ask the tough questions you would never in an interview. Now is the time to bring up expected compensation, issues with your age, coming from a rigid hierarchy, possibility of remote work, missing education, or skill gaps, etc.

Case Study

Joan came from Citi and its massive bureaucracy. After 10+ years, she was used to a well-worn way of doing things and knowing that innovative ideas sort of die on the vine. She worked in equity research but saw her friends making the move to FinTech. However, she did not know what role she could play or what FinTech really even meant. She was the family breadwinner and was freaking out since she just got her 5th new boss in 3 years.

We identified 4 sectors within FinTech (Cryptocurrency, Capital Markets, Digital Banking, and Business Lending) in which she had interest (after I educated her on the differences). She further read about these areas with very specific content sources I provided (This week in FinTech, LendIt Fintech, etc.) We discussed 4 roles that my clients in her position had transitioned to over the past year: Product Management, Subject Matter Product Expert, Client Onboarding, and Product Strategy.

I arranged calls for her with my network with professionals that had the 4 positions in the 4 sectors mentioned above. After 6 of these market validation calls, she understood what roles were easiest to transition to (Product Management and Product Strategy), and which of the sectors would most welcome her (Cryptocurrency and Capital Markets.)

With full information on expected compensation, titles, work-life balance, skills gaps, and ways to position herself in interviews, her blood pressure dropped, and she was able to focus on execution.

Job search execution

Your resume, LinkedIn profile and cover letter serve one and only one purpose: get the interview.

No, don’t document your life or anything that is not crucial for your target job. Job hunters frequently make the mistake of including more skills and accomplishments than necessary on their resume. It ends up weighing the resume down with irrelevant information, which makes finding the relevant pieces — the ones that will help you for your next job — harder. For example, if you are trying to get a customer success job, don’t include highly technical operations type work.

“Every resume/LinkedIn piece of content should describe your unique value add.”

If you write a bullet, say to yourself “Can someone else use this bullet in their resume?.” If the answer is yes, don’t include it. If you are truly special, and you are, make your content special. If I hear “managed stakeholders to satisfy the profit goals of senior management” I will puke. How about “Oversaw a 15-person marketing team to create a Twitter social media campaign that increased firm reach into the 20–30-year-old market segment by 50%”. Creating your resume in this way is sure to minimize anxiety during your job search.

Control the interview process

Yes, I said control. Most people don’t often realize that job seekers should control the interview process, not the other way around. If you can’t control the interview process, why should I hire you to manage money, run a system’s team, or manage client relationships.

Your goal during an interview is to convince the interviewer that you have the job skills necessary for the position they want to fill. Assuming you have done your earlier homework, you have already done that through your LinkedIn profile and your resume. Now the interview process is your moment to provide your story, full of examples, and shine.

Managing the emotional side of a job change

Anxiety can sabotage any good job search. Have you ever answered an interviewer’s “tell me about yourself” by starting from your experiences in the womb? Has your resume migrated onto a third page, displaying your lack of ability to self-edit? I get it, I’ve been there. College bills are due, and shockingly they won’t accept an IOU. Do you wake up in the middle of the night sweating and wondering why your online job submission was ignored although you fit the job perfectly? If you do, here are some exercises you can do to minimize anxiety during your job search.

After a 20-year meditation and yoga practice, I have learned many ways to better center myself and regulate the emotional turmoil of a job change. There are some very easy and quick exercises you can practice that help you release stress and stay confident and focused through your job search. Check them out below. For a video of them, email me!

Breathe Through Your Nose

1. Sit by yourself in a comfortable spot (don’t lie down)
2. Breathe in through your nose slowly for a count of 4; pause
3. Breathe out through your nose slowly for a count of 6
4. Repeat for 2-3 minutes

Hands Across the Chest and Abdomen

1. Sit by yourself in a comfortable spot (don’t lie down)
2. Take your right hand and place across your chest, hand on heart
3. Take your left hand and put across your lower abdomen
4. Try not to notice you have gained weight
5. Just sit for 5 minutesShift Weight Back and Forth

1. Stand up straight with your legs about two feet apart
2. Shift your weight back and forth slowly, staying in control
3. Repeat for 2-3 minutes

Watch Your Breath

1. Sit by yourself in a comfortable spot (don’t lie down)
2. Close your eyes and just notice your abdomen and chest moving up and down
3. Repeat for 2-3 minutes


You don’t need one if you read the article!

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