How bad is the 2010 job market?
July 27, 2010 10:04 PM   Subscribe

I have had 3 job interviews in the last 2 months but have received no offer? Is this regular for this market or do I have issues with my interviewing skills?

I am currently employed in a really big insurance company but looking to move to finance. When I first started out my career I was working at JP Morgan and then I switched to this insurance company as I wanted to see a different industry. Now I would like to switch back to finance, partly cause of the better pay but mostly because this is the industry I would like to be in for the rest of my career (or until I build my own business). In the last 2 months I have gone on 3 job interviews, the last one being two days ago. I havent received any offers and I am getting extremely frustrated and starting to doubt my communication/interviewing skills.

Can you guys tell me if nowadays this is the norm? Also if possible can you guys point me to any (hopefully cheap) resources in NYC that could help me with interviewing skills? I know that these resources exist but I am not even sure whether they are worth the money.

Finally if it helps I am a 26 year old business analyst with about 5 years of overall experience.

Thanks in advance!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Well you don't give us a lot to work with here, but finance companies have the pick of the litter these days, since so many people were laid off.

Since you don't tell us what area of finance you've been interviewing in, and you don't tell us anything about the content of your interviews, we can only guess at what your problem is.

That said, if you go into a finance interview and tell them you want to switch to finance because the pay is better, well, that's not really a reason for them to hire you. Focus on what you can offer the organization, not what they can offer you.

Go to networking events. NYSSA is a good place for networking/career development in NYC.
posted by dfriedman at 10:13 PM on July 27, 2010

Dude, the market is fucked. While there are arguably signs of life out there, there is a huge glut of candidates for all sorts of finance positions, many with much more experience than you, many with MBAs. You can pick up the WSJ/NYT to read stories about CFOs being reduced to jobs at Walmart. You're lucky to be getting interviews (and lucky to be interviewing while you still have a job). I doubt that it's your interviewing skills.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:14 PM on July 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

3 interviews with no offer would be completely plausible in a non-trainwreck economy.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 10:18 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

While there are arguably signs of life out there, there is a huge glut of candidates for all sorts of finance positions, many with much more experience than you, many with MBAs.

Well, this was true last year. Not as much this year. I was laid off from Citi in Feb of 09, and didn't have an interview for the rest of the year. In Jan and Feb of this year the interviews came more frequently. Not that it matters for me because I've made a break from the Street and am now working in the startup sector.

But. A lot of my friends, with a decade more experience than the OP are seeing lots of hiring in I-banking and trading and workout groups. Unfortunately none of these groups would hire a business analyst from an insurance company because, as I say, the banks can pick and choose right now.
posted by dfriedman at 10:20 PM on July 27, 2010

What skills do you have? Why would I be motivated to hire you? Tell us more.
posted by markmillard at 10:25 PM on July 27, 2010

Glad to hear it, dfriedman. I think what you're seeing in ibanking and workouts is consistent with what I've seen as well (workouts especially). I do know a bunch of people in all sorts of finance fields--from marketers to kids from the desks, to fund flunkies--who are out of work and still looking, though. As you say, it's a buyer's market these days.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:27 PM on July 27, 2010

3 interviews is too small a sample to draw much of any conclusion. No matter what the economic circumstances, 3 is simply a very small number.

The best you can do as far as interviewing skills is to try to honestly assess your strengths and weaknesses based on your experience with the interviews, your knowledge of yourself, and your understanding of what a prospective employer wants from you. Since a rejection letter is almost never going to tell you that you did something wrong in an interview, the mere fact of being rejected for a job doesn't provide much insight in how to do a better interview. Your interview could be fine, yet they may have found someone else who also did a fine interview and has some edge over you.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:37 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Not to be nitpicky (you're going to hate me for saying this), but I found the tone of the writing in your question to be a little too casual, and your grammar needs some help. While 0 for 3 interviews would be normal even in a healthy economy, I wonder if your AskMe presentation style somehow mirrors your interview style, and if this could be a liability.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:41 PM on July 27, 2010 [6 favorites]

partly cause of the better pay but mostly because this is the industry I would like to be in for the rest of my career (or until I build my own business). In the last 2 months I have gone on 3 job interviews, the last one being two days ago. I havent received any offers and I am getting extremely frustrated and starting to doubt my communication/interviewing skills.

Frankly, I immediately noticed a certain (over-) casualness in your writing: "cause" instead of "because" or the I'm-being-intentionally-casual "'cause", and your use of "havent" instead of "haven't" or "have not". Not to mention "nowadays".

I don't know how white-shoe or formal the finance industry is, but were I to see similar casualness in your cover letter or resume, I'd wonder if you lacked the meticulousness necessary in in high-stakes, numbers oriented job. And I'd wonder how you'd appear to colleagues or clients.

A studied casualness may make a more experienced professional seem avuncular and approachable, but in a person of 26 it may well grate (especially on more formal or older people), and leave the impression of a callow youth.

That apparent callowness might be underscored by your having moved from JP Morgan (where I would imagine new hires are worked like new associates at law firms) to what some may perceive as less demanding work in another industry.

I might think, "he couldn't make it at JP, he was too casual, he wasn't meticulous or disciplined enough bailed out, and now wants back in where the real money is, but he'll probably want tom flutter away again, because he's not focused".

Now all this is a stack of assumptions based on very little other than relaxed word usage and a career change, and it's probably wrong. But in this economy, firms can be picky and skeptical, and will construct these sorts of negative narratives if you give them the opportunity.
posted by orthogonality at 10:44 PM on July 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

(Note: I wrote the above before I read KokuRyu's similar but more succinct opinion.)
posted by orthogonality at 10:46 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

While I agree that 0/3 is nothing to write home about- it took me perhaps 8 interviews to land the job I'm in now- I'd say that it could very well be your interviewing manner that is tripping you up. You have to make an excellent impression in the little time you have, and as noted by orthogonality and KokuRyu above, it seems that your style is a little lax and casual- especially for the kind of industry you want to be in.

If you're not totally confident in the way you interview I would definitely recommend that you stage a few practice/ mock interviews- get someone with an opinion you can trust (family, friend, colleague, whoever- but don't go for someone who might be hesitant to give you criticism- that's what this exercise is all about), try to make the conditions as close to an actual interview as you can, and conduct a full on interview with all the trimmings. Make it as long as a real interview would be, with some tricky sight-unseen questions. Get dressed like you would for an interview. Sit across a big table. Bring your resume, some notes, whatever makes you best prepared. Put yourself a little out of your comfort zone.

Afterwards, get your mock interrogator to give you a frank, honest critique of your performance. Don't get tetchy! Just take it as constructive- there are sure to be things you are doing not-quite-right or straight up wrong that you might have no idea that you are doing at all. Conversely, there are also things you are doing right that you should reinforce. As with all things, getting an outside opinion really can give you perspective you can't get from within the subjectivised safe haven of your own brain.

Go through this a few times, and I guarantee your interview skills will sky-rocket! Not only will you have a much better idea of how to play to your strengths, you'll also be a lot more familiar with the battlefield clamour of the interview stage.

Good luck!
posted by Philby at 11:30 PM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Have you ever called back after an interview to ask for feedback by the interviewer? Even if they didn't give you the job? That is the best way to learn and can be very helpful in preparing your next one.
posted by eau79 at 11:42 PM on July 27, 2010

I wonder if your AskMe presentation style somehow mirrors your interview style, and if this could be a liability.

Not to be overly glib, but OP is a purported business analyst who is asking AskMe about the state of the financial market; I'm less concerned about lax diction. Plus, in my experience, bankers tend to be more into their own argot than grammar, etc. YMMV.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 4:13 AM on July 28, 2010

Echoing Jaltcoh: 3 is a very small number. I'm unfamiliar with the sector you're in, but if it helps, the largest number of interviews I've ever had before receiving an offer was a horrific 19. During that time I was lucky enough to be offered some interview coaching, and the concluding advice was that I was doing everything right and that the lack of offers was most likely a matter of chance. So I can tell you from experience that you can do everything right (or more realistically do most things right, most of the time), and still repeatedly get the anvil of rejection dropped on you from a great height.

A more common case scenario is my most recent one: I was invited to 6 interviews and attended 4 of those before being offered the job I'm in now. That was over ~5 months, but in a particularly specialised and recession-hit sector. So 3 interviews over 2 months is probably okay. It would be more worrying if you were getting no interviews. However, you could probably increase your chances by honing your interview skills.

KokuRyu may have a point. I don't think your tone is too casual for an AskMeFi post, but I did count several solecisms in that short paragraph. I don't know if this has been a factor or not, but I would encourage you to proofread every piece of text that you intend to be read by anybody other than yourself. That way, you're less likely to make errors during the job application process.

I know What Color Is Your Parachute? is a favourite for finding Your Vocation, but there's a lot of good stuff about interview skills and laying out cover letters in there, too. Please read it and take the advice within; I follow its suggestions and I'm reliably informed that I get invited to a lot more interviews than my peers.
posted by tel3path at 4:36 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

0 for 3 is common. Furthermore, given your last interview was a couple days ago, you are really 0 for 2 so far. Unless your interview went spectacularly badly or you were hurried out the door, you don't know whether they'll extend an offer yet. And if that interview did go spectacularly badly, you probably have an idea why.

None of us know your qualifications or interview style, so I'm not sure how much help will be. Enlist a friend to give you feedback. If you have friends from your old job/industry, ask them for help. If you do a mock interview, record yourself so you can catch any excessive "like"s or nose-scratching.

In the meantime, make sure you cover all your interview bases. Make sure your suit fits well and is in excellent condition. Make eye contact; be pleasant but not chatty, professional but not stiff. Know what you're talking about, speak positively of all your experiences, be prepared to describe what you bring to the table, what your five-year goal is, and all those other standard interview things.

And make sure your resume and written communication with prospective employers are stylistically flawless. Years ago, I used to receive unsolicited resumes at the company where I worked, and despite the applicants' qualifications, a couple were so full of small things like inconsistencies in font size and indentation that I still remember them and snicker. Oh god they were bad. I spent twenty minutes going over them with a red Sharpie, then gleefully chucked them in the trash. The kicker: I wasn't in charge of the hiring at that company; I just sorted the mail. The resumes I saw weren't addressed to anyone, not even "Hiring Manager," so I had to open them to see what was going on.

Which brings me to another point: always be kind and respectful to the gatekeepers, and present yourself professionally as soon as you walk in the door or dial the phone; you need to impress them too. Receptionists and admins who meet you will form opinions, and higher-ups will solicit those opinions. And many of them are around your age and just as smart as you are, just in a different job at this moment. If you're at all condescending, standoffish, or demanding, they won't be inclined to have you in their office. Many people miss this step, and it can make a huge difference.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:45 AM on July 28, 2010

3 job interviews in 2 months is not a whole lot. I used to interview for 10 jobs before I would get 1 offer. There's a lot of time before anyone wants to pull the trigger especially if people learn to get by with a skeleton staff.
posted by anniecat at 6:39 AM on July 28, 2010

So if you're 26 and have 5 years of overall experience, you started your (finance / insurance analyst) career at 21. Being as in those 5 years you went from JP Morgan to your current position, I'm guessing those are the only 2 "career" jobs you've had. If that's the case, I think that you just need to realize the 0 for 3 is very normal for "career" type jobs, even in a growing economy. When I started looking for a "career" job as opposed to the retail / child daycare / restaraunt jobs that i had been working since I was 14, I was a little unnerved by the fact that I wasn't getting every job I interviewed for like I did in the previous years.
posted by WeekendJen at 7:49 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Check your own references. After job-hunting for a year (before the economy tanked), I discovered that my most recent job reference was telling everyone that I had never worked there. This, in spite of the fact that I was still involved socially with about half of the employees there, including the CEO. Supposedly, I had been left out of the new human resources database.
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:01 AM on July 28, 2010

I totally understand that interviewing 3 times in 2 months feels like a lot of effort and it can be emotionally overwhelming. I'm about your age and I became extremely frustrated with putting forth the effort of applying and interviewing and not hearing back, even after what I thought was a good meeting. I also began to take some of the rejection personally, even though it's really about the employer trying to pick the person who will fit the best, not really about the most qualified person they can find.

Part of what may help you is a little perspective (already been said: 3 interviews and no offers in any economy is not unusual), as well as a little pat on the back: You got three interviews. That's good! Making it through the doors of another business is great. And you may have found after one or two of those interviews that the job or the people may not have been a perfect fit for you (just speculating here).

Feel good about getting the interviews - it means you've done something right with your resume and career choices. Be confident that you will find something; it just may take many more times the effort you were envisioning! And, remember to follow up after every interview (could be an email: "Thank you, Mr./Ms. So-and-So, for giving me the opportunity to meet with you. I look forward to hearing from you, etc.")

Best of luck!
posted by wundermint at 9:22 AM on July 28, 2010

I was unemployed for a year, submitted my resume to probably 100 jobs, had probably 10 interviews and one offer. It's a very frustrating time to be unemployed. Hiring managers can afford to be very particular about the skill-sets and personalities sought for a job, since there are typically many more candidates for the job than there are openings.
posted by indigo4963 at 11:43 AM on July 28, 2010

If they interview five candidates for each position, and every candidate is equally qualified so the selection is random, your odds of not having a job offer after three interviews is still over 50%.
posted by Clandestine Outlawry at 1:10 PM on July 28, 2010

Some perspective albeit from a very different industry: my bar put an ad on Craigslist looking for a bartender at 10:30 pm. The next day at 7am we had 85 resumes. Like I said, very different than an analyst, but this isn't a exactly a plum job.
posted by josher71 at 2:49 PM on July 28, 2010

3 interviews is nothing in even a great market.
posted by xammerboy at 9:33 AM on July 29, 2010

« Older Please help! I can't MMS a picture from my...   |   The Eagle? Hawk? Falcon? Has Landed Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.