Traditional hiring tactics have conditioned job seekers to focus explicitly on their professional experiences, educational background, and hard skills during the job search and hiring process. While it’s unlikely you’ll be hired without the proper skill set, there’s more that goes into a quality finance candidate than just one’s professional makeup.
If you’re struggling to find work as a finance professional in the molasses-like job market, showcasing employer-coveted personality traits of the finance industry might be just what you need to spice up your job search. No company is exactly alike, therefore finding a candidate to meet each firm’s one-of-a-kind company culture is crucial to mutually beneficial employment. So crucial, in fact, major companies like HHGregg., Sprint Nextel Corp., and Avis Budget Group are turning to personality tests to better assess the traits of applicants.
If you’re the perfect fit for a company’s culture, you’re more likely to glide easily through the hiring process. Consider these 10 must-have traits for employment as a finance professional:
1. Innate problem-solver. As Albert Einstein once said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with the problems longer.”
Employers rely on employees who will pull through in challenging times. A top finance candidate takes action to find solutions -- regardless of the situation or fault. This trait might not be an easy-read during the hiring process. If problem-solving comes naturally to you, be sure to include examples of this skill on your resume and focus on it during interview conversation.
2. Analytical skills. Some of the most influential leaders in finance readily embrace and utilize their analytical skills to create waves in their companies.
The ability to demonstrate logical thinking in order to gather and analyze a variety of information is an absolute necessity in the finance field. Since analytical skills aren’t quite innate, being well-versed in analytical experiences ensures a solid foundation. During the interview, showcase your past analytical experiences by giving specifics on what you’ve encountered.
3. Exceptional leadership. The most coveted finance professionals are those who drive themselves and others forward through passionate motivation. You may not be applying for a managerial position, but even entry-level finance candidates require a high level of leadership in the finance sector. This is due to the fact that general project management, effective communication, teamwork, and many other day-to-day tasks involve a strong foundation in leadership.
Make your affinity for leadership known by including your experiences on your resume and divulging details in the interview. Effectively communicate your abilities to enhance efficiency and productivity while working with clients, individuals, and with a team.
Your leadership skills are bound to turn heads. Take Tony James, President and COO of Blackstone Group, for example. He’s been credited with transforming his previous company, Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette and sending his current company is a strong direction.
4. Adaptable communication. Whether you’re seeking a position as an investment banking analyst or financial planner, communication skills are always vital. Employers want candidates who are able to communicate with managers, coworkers, and clients. You should be able to readily pivot your communication efforts to the chosen channels, platforms, and styles of everyone you encounter.
5. Humble confidence. This goes beyond your firm handshake. Confidence provides a foundation for acceleration in nearly every aspect of finance. You must have confidence in your ability to move your company forward, but also harness a willingness to put your company and team ahead of yourself. Can you invoke trust and loyalty in someone you’ve just met? Can you effortlessly drive points home in a presentation? These attributes are certain to get you hired.
6. Unwavering professionalism. Regardless of company culture or client environment, quality finance job candidates exude professionalism in all situations. A formal tone will establish consistency and trust--and while some environments may be more casual, quality finance job candidates should know how to adapt but also remain professional. This is particularly important throughout your interview, even if your interviewer maintains a more casual tone.
7. Self-management. The ability to perform efficiently and effectively without direct supervision and guidance is a trait that can turn an average employee into an asset. If you excel at self-starting and self-monitoring, use the interview to share your experience with managing projects, tasks, and scenarios with little to no supervision. Self-drive is a critical aspect to success -- something companies look for when hiring employees.
8. Ease with technology. Advancements in technology have made streamlining timely processes a breeze. In the financial services industry, tech skills are becoming a necessity for candidates. For example, many firms are looking to hire candidates with knowledge in Structured Query Language (SQL).Do you have more than the minimum requirement for tech knowledge? You may be versed in specific tools and platforms to excel in the position you’re applying for, but what else can you bring to the table?
9. Intellectual curiosity. The best finance candidates are those who wish to develop in every position they take on. If you’re dedicated to continued learning and advancement in the finance sector, employers will take notice. You are likely to be viewed as a company thought leader or change-motivator within the organization. Showcase your passion for learning throughout your cover letter and resume, and consider seeking out companies who share this passion.
10. Compatibility for both independent and team work. Work settings are likely to vary in finance positions. The best candidates are those who can move seamlessly from independent tasks to acting as a beneficial member of a team. If you excel at a variety of work styles, be sure you’re accurately displaying these styles throughout the hiring process.
It’s important to remember that very few people can showcase all of these traits. But even displaying a few will make you a quality hire in terms of your soft skills. Harness your outstanding traits and reach out to companies who showcase similar values within their company culture.
What do you think is the most important trait of a finance job candidate?
Skiddy von Stade is the founder and CEO of OneWire, the premier destination for employers to connect with high quality finance talent. Connect with Skiddy and OneWire on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.