Career Advice Banking and Finance

10 Ways to Break Into a Banking Career in Your 30s

Notorious for its recruitment of young and malleable work horses, banking and finance may be one of the hardest industries to break into as an older, more experienced worker. It may be frustrating to discover that after years of dedication, proving yourself as a savvy and sophisticated employee, you are unable to find work with a bank. Let’s just lay it on the line: Banks want young bodies simply for the fact that they will work hard without question and follow orders with a smile. As seasoned professionals, especially with the added burden of family responsibilities, the average 30-year old employee may wince at the idea of being told what to do. Though difficult, if you have your heart set on heading down this career path, here are ten ways to break into a banking career in your 30s.

  1. Know the industry. It isn’t possible to be hired into top tier banks, like Goldman if you’re way past graduation and/or haven’t attended a world class MBA programme. Companies like these typically recruit right out of undergrad and directly from top business schools like Harvard and Stanford. They don’t need to hire elsewhere. Unless you fit this bill, aim your sights for something in the middle. Mid-range investment banks are more likely to hire 30-somethings at the analyst level that the bigger names in the industry. 
  2. Get an EMBA. Looking to change careers by earning a new degree? At 30, you are already older than most MBA business students. Consider an EMBA instead. This advanced degree can be completed while you are working part time and offers some candidates a well-respected platform to jump into a finance career.
  3. Network, network, network. It is increasingly difficult for an older candidate to be hired into finance, but, one way you can help improve your odds is to make a lot of connections in the banking industry. Attend networking functions where you’ll be able to connect with senior associates or lower level VPs. These people have hiring power and are more likely to help get you in the door for an interview if they know who you are on a personal level. It’s time to turn up the charm as you network in order to secure yourself a role in the banking career world.
  4. Perfect your resume. Former recruiters in the banking world have criticised 90% of the resumes they received as being subpar. If you can get yourself in that top 10% with an amazing resume, complete with no grammar or spelling errors, you stand a much better chance of being hired.
  5. Nail your interview. Prepare for your interview with your banking recruiter as you would any important test. Study up on the company, industry, and position you’re applying for. The questions from hiring teams in the world of finance are fairly predictable. One botched answer could be enough for them to move on to the next candidate without a second thought so make sure you can answer with knowledge and confidence.
  6. Craft your story. Investment banks, even at a mid-range level, will want to know why you’re breaking out of a previous career to enter banking. If you don’t have a convincing and compelling story to tell them, you might not get the job. Work to develop and perfect your three-minute “elevator pitch,” a concise yet engaging story that gives insight into who you are, what your professional goals are, and how you are prepared to achieve them.
  7. Be in an industry that can easily switch to finance. Lawyers, programmers, accountants, and strategy consultants work in careers that embody similar traits that are favourable to investment bankers. If you come from a professional background that includes any one of these roles, you’re more likely to have an easier time finding your way into a banking career role. It also helps if you have a financial background and a great personality.
  8. Be willing to start again. Although the idea of switching to a banking career is so that you can have a more lucrative and successful career, sometimes in order to achieve that goal, you might have to start out small. Taking a position that may be lower-level than you would like may be the best and fastest way to get your foot in the door. Once you’re in, you can accelerate your career by proving to your managers and those in higher level management roles how capable you are.
  9. Earn a PhD in an area pertinent to banking. The more education you have, the better your chances of finding a new job in finance. If you can manage if, obtain your PhD degree, depending on what area you’d like to focus on. These academic folks are usually able to get hired into finance, no matter what their age is.
  10. Don’t stop. If you really want to break into the banking industry as an older individual, you may hear “no” ten times before you hear a single “yes.” Don’t let this discourage you. Keep working at it. Remember, you only need a positive confirmation once to secure a job in banking.

While it may be difficult to break into a banking career after thirty years of age, it is possible. Remember to keep this list in mind when you’re planning your career change. A clear career plan of action, coupled with an outline to success, will take you closer to reaching your goal.