CAT | IT
Traditionally, a business analyst plays a significant role as the bridge between business users and the information technology division. Professionals in this role tend to possess strong communication skills with sound understanding of the business processes in specific domains, as well as substantial technical know-how.
Given the challenging market condition, the majority of investment banks are talking about cost reduction and cost saving which has posed vigorous discussions about whether an application developer can do a business analyst’s job.
In fact, this is already happening in several top-tier investment banks. Line managers tend to look for all-rounded professionals not only technically strong in programming, but also have the capability to communicate effectively with business stakeholders.
Based on such findings, I would like to share several tips below for a developer who is keen to secure a position with a global investment bank:
- Research and gain an understanding of the business domains you are about to interview for, i.e. equity derivatives trade flow and processes, meaning of pricing engine, what’s the flow of trade confirmation and settlement, etc.
- Remember to clearly elaborate on your work experience, project exposures and your strengths and weaknesses. Give a breakdown of what kind of projects you have worked on, the size of the project in terms of budget, the people involved, the achievement and results etc, and highlight your technical skills.
- Prepare for scenario based questions, most of the time there is no exact answer for these questions. Employers are looking to see how you would handle specific real-life situations through the way you think, your approach and how you solve the problem. Be sure to show you understand the situation and refer back to your own experience where you delivered a positive result.
- Lastly, initiate questions during the interview to show your interest in the company, the job and in interacting with business stakeholders.
As we all know 2012 is not going to be easy for many job seekers in the banking and financial services sector. Talk of budget constraints, projects on hold and job cutting in investment banks is not uncommon at the moment
However, for most top-tier banks and financial institutions keen to out-run their competitors in the market, client servicing and process improvements are often the key success factors in which technology advancement plays a very important role.
Given the fast-paced and result-oriented nature of the investment banking field, jobs just have to be done, direct contracting or secondment contracting are on the increase. So, have you considered taking a contract role?
Below are a few tips to successful contracting:
1) Using your technical skills to the needs of your clients
Finding a position that meets most of your skill set is not always easy. Whether you are an application developer, project manager or infrastructure specialist – be patient, diligent and continue to build and develop your skills along with your contract career path.
2) Maintain a client-oriented attitude
This will greatly impact how your work is received by your clients. Approach your work with a no-ego, service-oriented persona and be sure that you fully understand the scope and schedule of your role and focus on getting the job done with the highest quality. This is key in proving your ability and increases your chances of a contract extension or a possibility of a permanent position.
3) Certainly, change is inevitable
You never know how long a project could last or when a project will end, given the different internal factors and external market turbulence. You must always be ready for anything to happen, be sure to continue building on your technical skills, keep your options open and be flexible without any complaints. Enjoy your assignments but keep open to other potential opportunities.
In the current global economic climate there is increased pressure on organisations to manage growth in line with controlling costs; to maintain and lean operation but also an agile one that can capitalise quickly on improved conditions. Some people have the perception that the technology department is a cost function rather than a revenue generator for a firm. I would definitely disagree with this statement. Next generation technology such as cloud computing and virtualisation can improve a company’s bottom line and are significantly impacting the IT talent market.
Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, applications and information are provided to different computers and electronic devices as a utility over the internet. Global banks, MNCs and even SMEs are devoting more attention to this technology with the goal that it will sharply reduce operational and hardware maintenance costs. Cloud computing may also be able to reduce traditional internal technology support overheads.
Virtualisation is another hot topic currently within the field of IT. It can be viewed as part of an overall trend in enterprise IT that includes autonomic computing, a scenario in which the IT environment will be able to manage itself based on perceived activity and utility. It is not a brand new concept but it is absolutely a key consideration for many global financial institutions that would like to enhance their resources planning and cost controls. Using remote desktops and centralised administration are typical examples of virtualisation with the potential to improve scalability and decrease workloads.
The pace of development within both cloud computing and virtualisation is rapid and more and more organisations are investing in these technologies. Now is a great time for IT professionals to strengthen their skill sets to capitalise on exciting new career opportunities.
In an ever changing and highly competitive job market, staying relevant and focused on career planning has become crucial. Businesses are increasingly seeking employees who can add value to their operations.
Here are some of my top tips for staying relevant in an ever changing jobs market:
- Develop your key strengths: Identify and leverage your core competencies, for example your qualifications and other accreditations, work experience, expertise, talents and general interests.
- Self investment: To progress in any organisation and to give you an edge above others, upgrading and supplementing your existing skills and expertise is crucial.
- Knowledge is power: In a dynamic and ever changing world, it’s important to be in tune with the changing market. Keep up with industry news and trends by reading relevant publications (on and off-line), keeping in touch with key contacts and attending networking events. Social networking is also a good way to connect with your industry and learn up-to-the-minute news.
- Fill the gap: Identify your weaknesses and increase your worth by overcoming them through training and development.
- Nurturing relationship: In today’s networking age, fostering a good relationship with your colleagues helps to create a pleasant and efficient work environment. Furthermore, it will boost your career longevity in any organisation.
- Organisation goals: Identifying long term goals and objectives and fitting into succession planning will help you stay relevant within your firm.
Social networking sites are more popular than ever and are increasingly important tools for job seekers and employers alike. When you are looking for a job or positioning yourself for career growth, it is important to have an online presence where you can showcase your skills and experience. However, use your common sense and don’t let your social networking get you into trouble! Here are some of my top tips:
1) Create an online presence
Establishing a company website and/or LinkedIn profile is always a good start. Have you ever tried Googling yourself? Is the available information supportive of your professional image/reputation? Can your target audience access your profile?
Associate yourself with like-minded individuals or professional groups; this will help build your status in your industry. By joining industry forums you will also gain access to market updates and be able to exchange ideas with industry counterparts.
3) Be professional and consistent
Does your online identity correspond to your CV? What do your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles and pictures say about you? What valuable connections could you make through these sites? Ensure you have applied the appropriate privacy settings to your profiles. You would not want your boss to see embarrassing photographs of you drunk the day before your annual review!
1) Post funny information on your profile
While it might be good for entertainment value, I would advise not putting random, useless information on your online profiles. For example, some real life LinkedIn examples include: ‘Winner at life’ and ‘Going to be unemployed’ as job titles, and “Common sense” as a specialty. Comments like these are certainly not going to get you very far.
2) Forget the fine print
Before posting those scandalous holiday pictures onto Facebook, you may want to consider the following:
“By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing.”
3) Forget to update
Always remember to update your profiles with any promotion, new qualifications or other important work-related milestones. These are always worth highlighting. But remember, no one needs to know your hangover status.
So, you’ve secured an interview for your dream job! How do you guarantee that you perform your best during the meeting?
Being selected to interview with a company is not a test. It is the opportunity for the employer to find out more about your experience, skill set and personality; also for you to find out if this is the right role for you. It is essential that you take some time to prepare and practise, so that you can demonstrate why you are the most suitable candidate.
1. Be prepared
Re-read your CV and the job description before the interview, so you have a clear idea of the role, responsibilities and the type of person they are looking for. Research the company thoroughly and learn about their corporate vision, successes, competitors and regional/global coverage. Also be aware of their recent events/news.
2. First impressions count
Dress appropriately; smile and shake hands firmly with your interviewer. Make polite conversation and remember eye contact is important.
3. Be clear and specific with your answers
Do not simply read through your entire resume, give a snapshot of your experience and significant achievements. Highlight your experience that is most relevant to the role that you are applying for. Be prepared to talk about your strengths and weakness and answer questions clearly and specifically.
4. Why are you the best person for the job?
You need to demonstrate that you have the qualities or transferable skills they are seeking. Be prepared to share your experience, abilities and skills. Also explain why you are interested in joining the company.
5. Be positive
Employers will be wondering about your ability to work as part of a team so refrain from talking negatively about your current/previous manager or colleagues. Employers are looking for motivated professionals who are looking for a challenge.
6. Remember your body language
Sit upright and try to maintain good eye contact. During the interview, do not fold your arms and lean back or look to the floor. Many people cannot think and control their body language at the same time, which is why you need to prepare.
7. Expect the unexpected
Your interviewer may try to catch you off guard. It is impossible to plan for every difficult question, such as “How would your manager describe you?” but try to appear relaxed and in control. Ask the interviewer to repeat the question if necessary but do not evade it.
If you are unsure of a particular question, or what you’re interviewer is asking you, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.
9. Ask questions
This is also your chance to ensure that you have a clear idea of the role, the team, career progression for the role, training provided and culture. Leave the meeting with a clear decision as to whether this is the right job for you.
10. Get a good night’s sleep
Be as relaxed as possible on the day by having a good night’s sleep the night before. Plan your journey in advance and aim to arrive at your destination at least 10 minutes early.
Best of luck for your interview! For more tips please ask us for our interview guide.
Recently, Karl Stefanovic, host of the ‘Today’ morning TV show in Australia had the chance to interview the Dalai Lama. At one point he attempted the following joke which turned out to be an EPIC fail.
Let’s treat this as an example of a bad question, and what NOT to say in an interview.
Since my last blog post, my good friend got called in for a first interview with the HR team for his dream job. In his words he ‘bombed’ when he was asked ”What is the share price of our firm today?”
He had absolutely no idea (he should have read my interview tips blog post!). Overall the interview went well enough for him to have a second interview with the hiring manager, the MD for that business division.
I caught up with him for a coffee as he was after more advice prior to this next interview. He’s keen to make a good impression, so he asked me ”What are the best questions you’ve ever received that I can ask the MD?“
It got me thinking, like Karl Stefanovic, at times we are all tempted to make an impact, break the ice, or ask that ‘killer question’ in job interviews or business meetings. I do feel that there is a right time and place for asking the right question, be it in business or in life.
My feedback to my friend was that he should show an interest and passion in the job and the company; as he is meeting the MD he should focus on asking more strategic and ‘big picture’ questions. He should also listen carefully to what the MD says during the interview, as there are questions that will arise naturally during the course of the meeting. I do feel it’s never a good idea to make the interviewer feel uncomfortable by asking a question that they can’t answer, or to come across as being too overeager by asking too many questions.
My friend’s final interview will happen towards the end of July; so let’s hope he gets the job.
Until next time!