Tips for finding your first finance job

Need help finding the road from school to the beginning of your finance career? Monster maps the path here.

Tips for finding your first finance job

You're about to graduate with a finance, accounting, economics, or business degree. How do you parlay that achievement into a great job? Just as you did when you wrote all those term papers, the first step is to pick a topic, or in this case, a niche, to help you find finance jobs that will interest you.

Finance degrees usually lead to jobs with corporations or financial institutions. Corporate jobs include financial analysts, who make strategic business decisions, and accountants, who budget and track spending. At financial institutions and insurance companies, work is transaction-related. You could evaluate risk as an underwriter, work in financial planning, or sell stock.

To narrow your options, review your college career. Ask the professor who taught your favorite finance class what job is most closely related to the subject she teaches and for referrals to companies that hire for that position. In addition, look for companies whose products or services are related to your favorite extracurricular activities.

Another way to think about where you fit in finance is to consider whether job security or salary is most important to you—you're not likely to have both of those things at your first job. If your main goal is money, look for sales jobs, because there's no ceiling. But there probably is a floor—salespeople typically earn only a small base salary, and if you don't sell well, you won't last long.

Work the employer angle 

Instead of focusing on a specific job, set your sights on companies. The local business journal can be an excellent source of information on midsize and fast-growing companies in your market. You can also search Monster's company review site to get an inside look at those businesses. Make a list of 10 local companies you'd like to work for, and set up an alert on Monster so you'll be notified when those companies list new jobs. Review the listings to learn more about the types of finance positions they're looking to fill.

Networking 101

Start networking today. There are plenty of resources to be had through your campus career center. Attend on-campus company information sessions and off-campus career fairs. Ask if the finance department can arrange finance internships or has other relationships with finance employers such as consulting deals, she adds.

"Look at professional organizations where you can become a member inexpensively and maybe bridge with employers who don't have ties to your university," Terry suggests. Contact alumni who already work at your target companies or industries to arrange informational interviews.

Finding a job is a job 

If you want to find really great finance jobs, you'll need to put a lot of effort into your search. From now until graduation, think of your search as a part-time job. Make a list of your job search-related tasks, and schedule time to do at least one each day.

You won't start collecting rewards for this work until graduation, but knowing that you've got the right job lined up will make the effort more than worthwhile.

Make something out of a little

Even if you have only limited work experience, you can still have a great finance resume. "Draw upon your education," says Monster Resume Expert Kim Isaacs. "Put in your classes, your knowledge base, and special projects."

Include jobs unrelated to finance, but don't list your duties. "Talk about accomplishments in those positions," Isaacs says. "Say, ‘Was entrusted to train new wait staff based on my leadership potential.' Draw out your transferable skills."

Remember to customize your career goal statement and resume for each job. "If you're going in multiple directions, create multiple resumes—your financial analyst version and your sales version," Isaacs says. Need some help with that? Get a free resume evaluation today from the experts at Monster's Resume Writing Service. You'll get detailed feedback in two business days, including a review of your resume's appearance and content, and a prediction of a recruiter's first impression. Monster's experts can help you set up your resume so that it focuses on the relevant skills you'll need to succeed in finance today.