## Near the End of A PhD and Have No Job

 Quote by StatGuy2000 (3) One thing I hear of constantly is the importance of networking, but it seems to be that financial firms seems to go out of their way to make this very difficult. Furthermore, financial firms, at least from your replies above, also seem to go out of their way to make it difficult for individuals with technical backgrounds (such as a PhD in physics) to know what positions are out there. Which leads me to wonder this, how are graduate students in physics or math interested in working for finance supposed to know who to apply to or where to send their resumes or CVs (including knowing which headhunter is reputable)? You had suggested simply spamming resumes left and right, but that's difficult to do if you don't even know which companies are offering what positions.
I think this is the main reason TFQ says to spam. Finance sounds like it is a lot like defense in that they actively try to keep what their job openings are a secret. Or, at the very least, they are intentionally vague about what they are doing and don't want people contacting them. As he called it earlier, "Kafka-land", you can't ever get in contact with someone in person to listen to you and you're just screwed unless you spam and eventually get through somewhere.

Essentially, p(success) is so low, you need to have N=10^10.

 Quote by StatGuy2000 1) However, many large companies (many financial firms in the US fall in this category) have large HR departments. You would think that within the recruitment division of HR you could find at least a handful of people with some limited technical capabilities who could devote themselves solely for helping to recruit technical positions.
Anyone that has technical skills and interest wouldn't be working in HR.

The people that do end up doing technical recruiting are technical people (and part of what I'm doing here is recruiting and marketing work). But if you are a physics geek, you *might* be willing to volunteer to do interviews, review resumes, and give talks, but you wouldn't want to do it full time.

The other thing is that recruitment is a small part of HR's job. A lot of what HR does is policy development and enforcement. For example, every major company probably has had a ton of meetings trying figure out what the policies should be toward social networking. If you are a multinational company, you have your hands full keeping up with the laws and policies of every country you are working in. And then there is a lot of routine paper shuffling.

 After all, the role of HR is to ensure that the firm can fill a given position with the best possible candidate
No it isn't. Despite what companies say, they aren't interested in the "best candidate." They are mostly interested in someone that is good enough and not incompetent. This is important for interviewing because you aren't trying to convince the interviewer that you are the best, but rather that you aren't the worst.

This is why no one cares much if resumes get lost. As long as someone decent fills the position, it doesn't matter much. Also there is a cost issue. If you find someone that can walk on water, they are going to demand $. Finding someone that can walk on water is pointless if you just need someone that can swim really well, and will do it for less $$.  If the positions requires specific qualifications, such as a physics PhD, you would think that HR should be able to find candidates without necessarily needing to know "what" these candidates can specifically do (the interviewers can handle this aspect of things). Except in finance and software, very few of the jobs require a specific qualification. For example, suppose we were interested in time series analysis. If you give me a stack of resumes of astrophysics Ph.D.'s and someone mentions that they have some experience observing white dwarf pulsations, at that point I flag that resume, because I know that someone that has this experience likely has deep knowledge of time series analysis. Someone from HR cannot do this. The best that they can do is keyword searches with instructions to forward all Ph.D. resumes to our group, and even then no one has a particularly strong incentive to make sure that resumes don't get lost. This is really good. If you had a company that cares a lot about credentials, and you ask them to hire a C++ programmer, they'll just look for someone with a CS degree, and dump physics people.  I find it really curious that those who work in financial firms could get in trouble for putting your resume online in LinkedIn. Different industry and different culture. One reason for this is that people in banking have a very strong secrecy culture. Good thing too. I wouldn't want to put my money in a bank that would give out my credit card numbers and checking accounts balances to anyone random person that asks. Also much of the reason I go along with what HR asks is that I think the reasons for not posting resumes are legitimate. One thing I like about my job is that I'm doing pretty cool research in which even a three to six month lead can mean lots of$$$$. The competition will figure out what we are doing (often by hiring our people), but if it takes them an extra month or two to duplicate what we've done, that can be super-critical.  One thing I hear of constantly is the importance of networking, but it seems to be that financial firms seems to go out of their way to make this very difficult. Sure. That's why it is so important. Networking in finance is *painful* which is why it is important. The thing about "network like hell" is that it's not throw-away advice.  Which leads me to wonder this, how are graduate students in physics or math interested in working for finance supposed to know who to apply to or where to send their resumes or CVs (including knowing which headhunter is reputable)? Start with efinancialcareers.com, dice.com, wilmott.com, and phds.org. That will get you to the headhunters, and the headhunters will get you to the companies. Also, you likely will meet up with disreputable headhunters, but trying to figure out who is disreputable is part of the challenge.  You had suggested simply spamming resumes left and right, but that's difficult to do if you don't even know which companies are offering what positions. You know why I tell people to read Kafka. Exactly. Spam the headhunters.  (4) On a related note to question (3), what does YOUR firm do to find suitable candidates for technical positions? Mostly through HH. Some through talks at local universities. Some direct inquiries. Personally, I think it's best if you go through the HH route. The reason why is that you have only a 5% chance of getting hired, but if you flip a 5% coin enough times, you will get a hit. If you are in the 95% situation where you don't get hired going through a HH will get you feedback, and if you have a good HH, he will prep you for the next set of interviews.  Quote by Astro_Dude Finance sounds like it is a lot like defense in that they actively try to keep what their job openings are a secret. The other fun fact is that sometimes we don't know what the job requirements are. There have been situations where there is head count, and so people look at the applicants to figure out what we can use the head count for.  Essentially, p(success) is so low, you need to have N=10^10. p(success given e-mailed resume) is about 3%, which means that N needs to be around N=100-200. (Yes, I did was to keep track.) That's pretty typical of a sales situation (i.e. count the number of people that see a TV ad for cars versus the number of people that actually buy the car). If the number was 0.1%, then it's probably not worth the effort. The good news is that it's musical chairs, and unlike academia, there are roughly the same number of seats and people. If someone gets a job and you don't, that means that there is now an opening for you. Also trying to figure out how to model the situation probabilistically is quite interesting. The tricky part is that it's not an independent process. You have 250 physics Ph.D.'s interested in finance jobs, and probably around 200 jobs. That's different from having 500 people interested in 50 jobs. How to put that information into the probability of a given hit, is interesting. The other thing is that people use probability to mean two different things. People use probability as a measure of subjective certainty but also as a probability of an objective event occurring. It's *really* important to distinguish the two, since the failure to do that is what led to the current mess.  two-fish, is it pretty much required that to go into finance that would take a physics PhD, I'd have to be in NYC? How much do people generally start out with? I understand that the culture is very bonus heavy, but I'm wondering about guaranteed money.  Quote by Astro_Dude two-fish, is it pretty much required that to go into finance that would take a physics PhD, I'd have to be in NYC? Or London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo. 90% of the US jobs are in NYC. People outside of NYC will tend not to hire entry level Ph.D.'s because they figure that you will run off to NYC in a year.  How much do people generally start out with? 100/salary + 50K bonus.  I understand that the culture is very bonus heavy, but I'm wondering about guaranteed money. Also bonuses are different in finance than in other jobs. Basically, if you get zero bonus it means that you are about to get fired, and you should look for another job. So if you have "average" performance, you'll get a large chunk of your salary in bonus. The trend has been to decrease bonus and increase salary.  Quote by Astro_Dude I'm still having the issue that every time I look at even small DCs, I can't really find too much in the way of jobs I'm a great fit for... I just am not terribly optimistic applying for a job in engineering stuff (even when I can do it), because they just don't seem to care about physics people. What companies are you looking at?  Quote by JDGates What companies are you looking at? I've recently been trying to expand my focus (mostly through the advice given in this thread). Here's a non-complete list of the companies I've spend significant time on, not including gov't places: Raytheon Lockheed Northrop-Grumman BAE ITT Halliburton Schlumberger Analogic Bose I have a complete list somewhere, but that's a good sampling I suppose.  Quote by twofish-quant 100/salary + 50K bonus. Also bonuses are different in finance than in other jobs. Basically, if you get zero bonus it means that you are about to get fired, and you should look for another job. So if you have "average" performance, you'll get a large chunk of your salary in bonus. The trend has been to decrease bonus and increase salary. That's significantly better than I expected. I figured something around 60K + some kind of commission based stuff. I'm not good at that kind of sales, which is why I'd be better suited writing the code and selling how good the code works as opposed to getting people to give up money. EDIT: Also, another question. When making a profile on a site like efinancialcareers, should I say I have "no experience", since I really dont have experience in finance??? I technically have LOTS of experience in useful skills, but it's kinda a strange position to be in.  Quote by Astro_Dude I've recently been trying to expand my focus (mostly through the advice given in this thread). Here's a non-complete list of the companies I've spend significant time on, not including gov't places: Raytheon Lockheed Northrop-Grumman BAE ITT Halliburton Schlumberger Analogic Bose I have a complete list somewhere, but that's a good sampling I suppose. Yeah, the big ones are going to be hard for all the reasons discussed. There does appear to be a bit of a summer hiring lull (some of the places I know are pretty much always looking don't have anything advertised, anyway), but there's some stuff out there. For example: https://careers-metsci.icims.com/jobs/1025/job Companies like Shafer Corp. and Strategic Analysis Inc. are always looking for technical people to work on-site with clients as technical advisors, e.g.: https://jobs-schafer.icims.com/jobs/...?branding=test Irrespective of what they say about "desirable" experience, I've known several fresh PhDs who got these kind of jobs. The "SETA" job is a good one to keep an eye out for in general. Even when they don't advertise, the studies and analysis FFRDCs (IDA, CNA, RAND) are usually looking for PhDs. These are great places for PhDs who don't want to continue doing science. Bonus for you, they like people who are good at statistics, but usually don't care about specific programming skills. For example: https://cna.hua.hrsmart.com/ats/js_j....php?reqid=254 CNA also has non-defense work (FAA, Homeland Security, etc.), as does RAND. IDA doesn't have anything entry-level advertised right now, but would be worth submitting a resume/cover letter to anyway. For government, you might look at some of the places that have their own hiring programs outside of USA Jobs, and particular the ones that have professional development programs, such as: http://www.dnfsb.gov/professional-de...nt-program-pdp http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/employm...ers.html#nspdp (While the NRC's program doesn't mention physics, I know a condensed matter theorist who recently got an offer from them.) Anyway, I don't mean this to be a comprehensive list, but if you haven't seen these opportunities before, then you might look through and pick up some keywords that you can then use to search elsewhere.  Quote by Astro_Dude That's significantly better than I expected. I figured something around 60K + some kind of commission based stuff. One thing that you have to realize is that NYC is a very expensive city (i.e. 2000/month rent for any decent family apartment, 45% marginal tax rate). 150K in NYC is probably equivalent to about 100K in Austin, Texas, so a lot depends on whether you want leave in NYC. The other thing is that you will feel miserably poor. 150K is the basic salary in a financial firm, and you'll run into people making tons more money than that. The other thing is that in a lot of places, you don't see the rich, whereas in NYC all you have to do is to walk down Fifth Avenue, and you'll see stores selling 30K handbags and jewelry to mistresses of third world dictators who sent down the private jet to do a round of shopping. There is a whole scary world of the super-rich. You won't be part of it, but you'll see glimpses of it. The other thing that I find nice about NYC is that everyone is trying to make it big. You look at the people that run the taco stands, sweep the floors, and drive the taxis, and you can see that they have dreams of making$$$.

And everyone is selling stuff. I once got stuck with a homeless person, and we got into a conversation, and he turned out to be extremely intelligent, and he was talking about his strategy for panhandling. (What you want to do is to get into a conversation with a couple. The woman will feel sorry for you, and put pressure on the man to give you money.)

 EDIT: Also, another question. When making a profile on a site like efinancialcareers, should I say I have "no experience", since I really dont have experience in finance???
Say that you have experience in whatever your Ph.D. was in. The big thing to mention is that you have a physics Ph.D.

 Quote by twofish-quant One thing that you have to realize is that NYC is a very expensive city (i.e. $2000/month rent for any decent family apartment, 45% marginal tax rate).$150K in NYC is probably equivalent to about \$100K in Austin, Texas, so a lot depends on whether you want leave in NYC.
Oh, I know. I grew up there. I was concerned that I'd have to be a Ph.D. with a roomate. :-p

 Quote by twofish-quant Say that you have experience in whatever your Ph.D. was in. The big thing to mention is that you have a physics Ph.D.
Ah, ok. Five years statistics it is. :-p

 I always hear that sending generic cover letters is a kiss of death, but if I have to spam my resume by the hundreds, what else can I do besides change a sentence or two at the beginning?? It frustrates me to read things on the web from HR people who demand every cover letter be 100% unique.

 Quote by Astro_Dude I always hear that sending generic cover letters is a kiss of death
I don't think that I've ever read a cover letter.

As far as I can tell, the cover letter has one and only one purpose, and that's to make sure that your resume doesn't get lost in the shuffle. Without a cover letter, there is a good chance that your resume will end up somewhere totally random.

 It frustrates me to read things on the web from HR people who demand every cover letter be 100% unique.
Which is weird since HR only spends 30 seconds looking at the resume anyway.

Also one thing that I find useful is write a technical summary of my Ph.D. work in both the cover letter and the resume. This goes way over the heads of most HR people, which is the whole point.

Bad day for me overall. I've applied to another 30 jobs just this last week alone, in various industries. Got three rejections today, all from DCs, that were all positions I was really optimistic about. They were all low-level engineering things that I met all the qualifications for, and then some. Within 24-48 hours of the app going out, I got an email that didn't even give any feedback. :(

I'm trying my damnest to keep optimistic, but when I can't even get past the damned computer on entry level things just asking for B.S. degrees, I want to scream.

DEAR ASTRO_DUDE,

SIT AND SPIN

 Quote by Bessie11 I can feel your pain. But You continue your research and also don’t get upset Best of luck for your bright future
thanks :)

 Quote by twofish-quant I don't think that I've ever read a cover letter. As far as I can tell, the cover letter has one and only one purpose, and that's to make sure that your resume doesn't get lost in the shuffle. Without a cover letter, there is a good chance that your resume will end up somewhere totally random. Which is weird since HR only spends 30 seconds looking at the resume anyway. Also one thing that I find useful is write a technical summary of my Ph.D. work in both the cover letter and the resume. This goes way over the heads of most HR people, which is the whole point.
The other thing is, that as far as I can tell, recruiters generally don't even give a **** about cover letters and throw them away.

I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for you. There was a time in my life where I was between jobs and it took me almost 4 months and 100 job applications before I found my next job.

The key thing is persistence. You can send your resume and cover letter to >100 jobs, and the vast majority (perhaps upwards of 80-90%) would end up being rejected., but it's the other 10-20% though that will get you in the door.

Also, just because you were rejected (or didn't get a response) doesn't automatically mean that the company has forgotten about you. Many companies keep your resumes on file for upwards to a year, sometimes 2 years, and when new positions open up will contact those who they haven't placed, particularly those with impressive credentials. I have had companies contact me almost 6 months later asking to interview me for a position that just opened up.

 Quote by Astro_Dude Bad day for me overall. I've applied to another 30 jobs just this last week alone, in various industries. Got three rejections today, all from DCs, that were all positions I was really optimistic about. They were all low-level engineering things that I met all the qualifications for, and then some. Within 24-48 hours of the app going out, I got an email that didn't even give any feedback. :( I'm trying my damnest to keep optimistic, but when I can't even get past the damned computer on entry level things just asking for B.S. degrees, I want to scream. DEAR ASTRO_DUDE, SIT AND SPIN thanks :) The other thing is, that as far as I can tell, recruiters generally don't even give a **** about cover letters and throw them away.

 Quote by StatGuy2000 I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for you. There was a time in my life where I was between jobs and it took me almost 4 months and 100 job applications before I found my next job.
Same here. One of the more useful bits of education that I learned was from salesmen that I worked with. The thing about salesmen is that getting rejected is part of the job, and after the first 30 rejections, you stop caring about people saying no. Some of my friends were telemarketers in college, and that's a very useful job to prepare you for the job hunt.

Something that helped me was to consider that my job was to find a job. I got up every morning at 8:30, went to my office (i.e. a local coffee house) and spend the entire day until 6:00 busy working. The other thing that I did that helped was to think deeply about my situation. What happens with a lot of people is that the demand that you do something right now means no time to think about abstract things, but in order to keep sane, I ended up thinking about economics and physics, and reading a lot of math.

Dark humor also helped. One thing that I did was to imagine myself being Gordon Gekko stuck the play Glen Garry Glen Ross. The weird part was that I really *was* stuck in the play Glen Garry Glen Ross. One other bit of drama that helped was the Star Trek: TOS episode "The Enemy Within." It was my inner "evil Kirk" that got me through that period.

 Many companies keep your resumes on file for upwards to a year, sometimes 2 years, and when new positions open up will contact those who they haven't placed, particularly those with impressive credentials. I have had companies contact me almost 6 months later asking to interview me for a position that just opened up.
Also if you can find a real live human being that you can put into your rolodex, that helps a lot.

 Quote by Astro_Dude Bad day for me overall. I've applied to another 30 jobs just this last week alone, in various industries. Got three rejections today, all from DCs, that were all positions I was really optimistic about.
One thing that helped me was to "be numb." If I got optimistic about something then it was depressing when nothing happened. So I just got emotion-less when I send out the resumes. Viewing sending out resumes as something like taking out the trash, helps a lot.

Also if you get immediate rejections, that means that the companies are likely under hiring freeze so there are no jobs to be had. Something to be aware of is that right now the US economy is at the edge of a cliff, and if the US doesn't come up with a budget deal before 8/2, then we are looking at a disaster of Biblical proportions......

Peter Venkman: Or you can accept the fact that this city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, "biblical"?
Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath-of-God type stuff!
Peter Venkman: Exactly.
Ray Stanz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the sky! Rivers and seas boiling!
Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes!
Winston Zeddmore: The dead rising from the grave!
Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!
Mayor: Enough! I get the point! And what if you're wrong?
Peter Venkman: If we're wrong, then nothing happens. We go to jail, peacefully, quietly. We'll enjoy it

Right now, no one that is dependent on any government money is hiring, because everything depends on what happens between now and August 2. I'm hoping that this is all political theater, because there is a decent chance that things are going to go from bad to very, very, very bad.

 Within 24-48 hours of the app going out, I got an email that didn't even give any feedback. :(
That likely means that there are no jobs at all, so even if you could walk on water, it doesn't matter.

 I'm trying my damnest to keep optimistic, but when I can't even get past the damned computer on entry level things just asking for B.S. degrees, I want to scream.
Something that helped was *NOT* to be optimistic. It actually felt better to feel bad. The other thing that helped was the game "things could be worse."

Something else that I tried to avoid doing was to think "well if I did this other thing then things would be fine." The reason for not thinking that was that first it's not likely to be true. I'm pretty sure that bachelors with engineering degrees are getting rejection letters faster than you are. The second thing is that even if it is true, it doesn't matter. The important thing is to keep swinging at the ball, and anything that keeps you from doing that is useful.