Ask Ellen - Job Hunting and Career Development Advice

Andy Nguyen

Member
Reeves.jpg
Questions about job-hunting, your career path, workplace issues, interview and review preparation, salary and benefits negotiation? Ask Ellen Reeves, one of the contributors to QuantNet 2012-2013 International Guide to Programs in Financial Engineering.

Career and workplace advisor Ellen Gordon Reeves is the author of Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview? A Crash Course in Finding, Landing, and Keeping Your First Real Job, featured in media including CNN, CBS, EXTRA, Fox, ABC, @katiecouric, NPR. She consults to programs including the financial engineering/risk management programs at Baruch College and The University of Washington, preparing students for the job market.

Reeves is the creator of Extreme Professional Makeover: Boot Camp for Job-Hunters, and Do-It-Yourself Professional Development (DIYPD): Making Your Workplace Work For You.

The following is one sample tip from a comprehensive career advice guide Ellen wrote for the upcoming QuantNet 2012-2013 International Guide to Financial Engineering Programs (release September 2012)

I am a non-native English speaker and worried about interviews, particularly phone interviews—or conversely, I am a native English speaker but can’t understand the accent of my interviewer. Any tips?

  • Don’t Pretend You Understand If You Don’t
    Everyone has an accent. It’s important never to pretend you understand what someone is saying when you don’t.
  • Be Direct with the Interviewer
    At the beginning of the interview, say, “As you can probably tell from my accent, I’m not a native English speaker, and I can function perfectly well in English, but I hope you won’t mind if I ask you to speak slowly or to repeat things.” This is especially important for phone and video or Skype interviews.
  • Improving Your Accent: Listen to NPR
    If you are interested in working on your language skills and accent—and this goes for native speakers, too-—listen to National Public Radio (NPR) hosts (not the guests!), most of whom speak clear and standard English.
  • Tackle One Language Issue at a Time
    Don’t try to tackle everything at once; choose one issue to work on, for example the “th” sound in “the.” Practice saying words with “th.” Exaggerate the sound by 1) Making sure your tongue licks the bottom of your top teeth, 2) Placing your forefinger in front of your mouth, and 3) Making sure your tongue touches your finger as you make the “th” sound.
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bigbadwolf

Well-Known Member
At the beginning of the interview, say, “As you can probably tell from my accent, I’m not a native English speaker, and I can function perfectly well in English, but I hope you won’t mind if I ask you to speak slowly or to repeat things.”
No offence, but this sounds more accurate:

At the beginning of the interview, say, “As you can probably tell from my accent, I’m not a native English speaker, and though I can function perfectly well in English, I hope you won’t mind if I ask you to speak slowly or to repeat things.”
 

Erik Lehr

New Member
I'd just like give a ringing endorsement of Ellen's book, it's well worth it to buy yourself a copy. It's an easy read, and funny as well as helpful.

(A caveat, I am biased, as I met Ellen when she did a fantastic Boot Camp for my program at U. Washington, but seriously, check out her book!)
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
No offence, but this sounds more accurate:

At the beginning of the interview, say, “As you can probably tell from my accent, I’m not a native English speaker, and though I can function perfectly well in English, I hope you won’t mind if I ask you to speak slowly or to repeat things.”
No offense taken; this is not a literal script--you got the point--thanks!
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
I'd just like give a ringing endorsement of Ellen's book, it's well worth it to buy yourself a copy. It's an easy read, and funny as well as helpful.

(A caveat, I am biased, as I met Ellen when she did a fantastic Boot Camp for my program at U. Washington, but seriously, check out her book!)
Erik, thanks so much! Hope all's well. Planning to come back in the fall and perhaps see you then.
 

MRoss

Well-Known Member
Ellen gave me some personal advice on interviewing last year (Baruch bootcamp) and I can tell you she is phenomenal at what she does. Ask questions people! This is one Q&A you really want to take advantage of!
 

Faisal

Member
Hi Ellen Reeves. Its great to have you here. I am confused regarding how to go about the internship process. From personal experience, I feel that applying directly on company websites or forwarding my resume to their common career portal emails is of no use. If one does not have a contact or a network within the firm, is it better to forward my resume through a recruiter? On the other hand, the recruiter would extract his fee and hence firms would avoid hiring the recuiter's candidate. The process seems so ambivalent.
 

Tigga

Member
C++ Student
Hi Ellen,
Thanks for your offer to help us with career advice. I'm sure you know the "quant" types among here are mostly Asian males, introvert type. The language barrier would be one reason they don't go out and network as much as they should.
What would you advise for them to break the ice and better network/sell themselves?
 

away zhang

New Member
Broad background vs Focused background.

Between Statistic M.S. (Ph.D) and Financial Engineer M.S., is the latter preferred by recruiter/company in hiring?
For people from non Financial background, what level of financial preparation do you recommend?
 

Sudarshan

New Member
Hi Ellen.. I have two quick questions.. 1st, is there a difference between forwarding a person's resume and actually recommending that person ? And 2nd, I read a couple of blog posts that getting a reference from an analyst or an associate is of no big use and it needs to be a VP or MD to get the attention of HR.. How far is this true ?

Thanks a lot :)
 

chchch

New Member
Hi Ellen, I am newly admitted to Stanford Financial Math Program this year. I have been worried about the job hunting on west coast. Also, the program is less supportive on career service, and I am wondering if you know our program's reputation and placement stats for last year? How do you think of this program (since I rejected the ads from NYU and CMU)?
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
Hi Ellen, I am newly admitted to Stanford Financial Math Program this year. I have been worried about the job hunting on west coast. Also, the program is less supportive on career service, and I am wondering if you know our program's reputation and placement stats for last year? How do you think of this program (since I rejected the ads from NYU and CMU)?
Hi, CHCHCH. Congratulations! I have to admit that I don't know Stanford's program but a quick review of their website has some career resources you should use--and Stanford as a university (and business school) has such an incredible reputation, alumni body, and great brand recognition. I would ask the program directly for its stats. But it doesn't really matter--what matters is that you get ONE job, the right job for you, so don't worry about the statistics. Easy for me to say that to someone in your field :)
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
Broad background vs Focused background.

Between Statistic M.S. (Ph.D) and Financial Engineer M.S., is the latter preferred by recruiter/company in hiring?
For people from non Financial background, what level of financial preparation do you recommend?

Hi--as you'll see from another post, I'm afraid I can't answer this type of question, but there are many others who can, so I hope someone else will jump in and answer!
 

efajardo

Member
C++ Student
I would like to ask about how to write a resume or curriculum vitae. How many pages should have? What should it include? Do I need to state relevant classes I took as a student? Should I include references? What about extracurricular activities? Or GPA? Or a photo?

Thanks in advance,
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
Hi Ellen.. I have two quick questions.. 1st, is there a difference between forwarding a person's resume and actually recommending that person ? And 2nd, I read a couple of blog posts that getting a reference from an analyst or an associate is of no big use and it needs to be a VP or MD to get the attention of HR.. How far is this true ?
Sudarshan, I consulted with a well-placed MD who is a hiring manager at a bulge-bracket firm. He says: “Any recommendation is dependent upon the credibility of the recommender. Associate or MD, if the person has a good reputation, he/she will be taken seriously. Many of our hires result from recommendations from junior people.”
A resume sent with a strong recommendation is better. To my mind, there are 2 main reasons people forward resumes without them: 1) they don't really know the candidate or support them but are just fulfilling an obligation and doing someone a favor or 2) A busy person won't bother forwarding the resume of someone he/she doesn't support, so the assumption is that if I send it, it's worth taking a look at.
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
Broad background vs Focused background.

Between Statistic M.S. (Ph.D) and Financial Engineer M.S., is the latter preferred by recruiter/company in hiring?
For people from non Financial background, what level of financial preparation do you recommend?
Hi--this is a question for someone in the field and I assume depends on the company/job ; if anyone wants to jump in, I'd appreciate it.
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
I would like to ask about how to write a resume or curriculum vitae. How many pages should have? What should it include? Do I need to state relevant classes I took as a student? Should I include references? What about extracurricular activities? Or GPA? Or a photo?

Thanks in advance,
Hi. I feel a one-page resume is important. "Resume" means "highlight" or "summary." A CV or curriculum vitae is usually for academic jobs and is more extensive and expected to be several pages. If you need to have a separate page to list additional information, you could do that. You should tailor your resume to each job you apply for and use specific headings as opposed to "Work" or "Relevant" Experience, i.e. " Investment Banking and Related Experience". A line in your education section that says "Coursework includes" and listing courses relevant to the job description is important, and if the professor is well known, you might add his/her name in parentheses. DO NOT waste valuable resume real estate on references. That's a separate sheet. Do list extracurriculars and your GPA (unless it's really low; recruiters and hiring managers will want to see it but hopefully you can convince them that your talent and skills are not tied to your GPA). Do not include a photo. While, for example, many European CVs have a photo and personal information (like marital status), resumes in America do not. Perhaps we can post a sample resume at some point.
 

Ellen Reeves

Career Advisor
Ellen gave me some personal advice on interviewing last year (Baruch bootcamp) and I can tell you she is phenomenal at what she does. Ask questions people! This is one Q&A you really want to take advantage of!
Thanks so much. Let me know if I may be of further help. Flattery will get you everywhere :)
 
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