Jobs in the financial services industry are growing, but recruiters are having trouble filling the expanding gaps in their teams due to a lack of highly-skilled individuals.
According to a survey by Robert Half, 9 out of 10 Canadian executives reported difficulties finding highly skilled financial services professionals today as the demand often outweighs the supply.
Of the seven countries surveyed (Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany, UK, Canada, US and France), over 80% of all executives noted recruitment challenges.
So what does this mean for students and recent graduates looking for financial services jobs?
According to Michael O’Leary, Regional Vice President at Robert Half, many financial services are looking to grow their employment in operations, business development, treasury, skilled accounting, budgeting, forecasting and business planning.
Michael said that hiring practices within the financial services are gradually improving, but that students and recent graduates can follow a few simple guidelines to further increase their chances of employment.
Make it to the top of the financial services hiring pool
- Strive to work on banking/financial services accounts to improve your knowledge of the industry.
- Keep your skills current by taking on interim work or pursuing additional education or training opportunities.
- Increase your professional visibility. For example, participate in industry networking events, especially those hosted by one of the Big Four accounting firms.
- Temporary work will give you exposure to different employers and help you build your resume and network.
- Do your research. Become familiar with the skills that employers in financial services look for and become aware of the salary trends for your desired positions.
How to gain experience
It may seem impossible to gain work experience if you don’t have experience to start off with. However, if you look hard enough you may be able to find training programs to make your application stand out.
“Professional associations commonly offer training and professional development programs (e.g., seminars). In addition, staffing firms can offer training. Working with a mentor is also a good way of gaining insight and training,” Michael said.
Skills to highlight on applications or during interviews
If you’re at the interview stage for a financial services job, it can be difficult to know what to talk up in such a short space of time.
Michael notes that certain skills are highly desirable in the financial services sector, so explaining your competency in each area would be a great place to start.
- IT knowledge (Excel, Access, ERP)
- Financial reporting and analysis, forecasting, budgeting, analytical and interpersonal skills
- Regulatory and compliance skills (legal compliance, thoroughness, client relationships, informing others, SFAS rules, research skills, reporting research results, building relationships, coordination, auditing, general math skills)
With these tips, a job in the financial services might be closer than you think!