If you are looking for an average job at an average financial planning firm, your search will be easy due to large volume of firms hiring. Who the heck wants to be average though?! To get the most coveted positions, you must be an excellent candidate. So, how do you set yourself apart? We talk to hundreds of candidates, and place dozens in top financial planning positions each year. We compiled a list of things that take candidates from average to A+.
- If you’re a student, secure multiple internships. Spending your summers gaining relevant work experience instead of soaking up the sun at the pool will go a long way to impress prospective employers. Even if it is short term things such as visiting a planner’s office for one day or a few hours – every little bit helps.
- If you have access to financial planning software with your current employer – use it! Volunteer to input data, update plans before and after meetings, come in early or stay late to learn the software. If you don’t have access through your employer, sign up for free trials and take advantage of product demos. Having even a basic understanding can put you ahead.
- Go to conferences. Yes, the cost of attendance can be prohibitive, but there are plenty of new planners out there who are figuring out how to make it work. This is a great way to network with other new planners and firm owners, as well as an opportunity to learn from industry experts. Choosing to use your hard-earned money and vacation time to attend a conference shows that you are committed to developing yourself as a planner. Can’t make it to a national conference? Get involved with your local FPA and/or NAPFA chapter.
- Complete the CFP® coursework and take the exam. Do not wait for your employer to pay for it, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Your competition devoted their nights and weekends to studying and made sacrifices to pay for it with their entry level salary, and now they have those three letters after their name at the top of their resume. If you want to compete for the top jobs, you need them too.
- Do your research. Learn about the firm and the position they have available. Spend some time on their website and reviewing their ADV. Check out the firm’s social media accounts, and the LinkedIn profiles of their team. Determine before you go into an interview if the firm is a place you would like to work, then ask questions during the interview that you couldn’t find the answers to online.
- Write a thank you note after every interview. This is simple, takes less than five minutes, and can be done by email on your phone. There are really no excuses here.
If you are going to conferences, working toward the CFP® Designation, or have experience with financial planning specific software programs, include it on your resume or in your cover letter! Your goal should be to make it easy for employers (and recruiters) to see that you stand out from everyone else in their stack of resumes. If you can show that you are driven, passionate about financial planning, and committed to personal development you will be at the top of the competition.