In meeting after meeting with recruiter after recruiter, a few themes start appearing and re-appearing. One of these recurring themes from the world’s hiring decision makers is the importance of technology-related skills in the workplace. I hear it a lot from traders and those in related fields, and I hear it from folks in the marketing and advertising world. Highly marketable skills to have in your education and/or professional background are mathematics, computer programming, and engineering.
Scratching your head and thinking, “Gee, I’d like to be a trader, or a marketing professional… but I’m not really honing any of those tech skills in the classroom.” Well, what you can do is demonstrate a passion for and proficiency in those skills in your own life. In this day and age, it’s safe to assume that many of you are more tech savvy than your future boss, just by virtue of the technologies you’ve adopted in your personal life. For example, do you enjoy digital entertainment, such as online gaming? Or are you active on social media sights? Tout it on your resume! Talk about it in your interviews! Just make absolutely sure that you represent yourself professionally on all social media outlets, folks, because trust me, your future employers are looking at them. Keep those photos from Friday night stored safely and soundly someplace else.
You can also — and should also — be fluent in Microsoft Excel. This qualification seems to be a box employers check, a baseline requirement that demonstrates something important you can and must bring to any job with an analytical or modeling component. And not just in trading or marketing analysis! Investment bankers and other types of finance professionals across the board stipulate the importance of Excel skills starting on day one on the job. Find a problem in your academic or even personal life that you can solve by creating an Excel model, and talk about it in your interviews.
In the bigger-picture sense, be prepared to document and discuss ways that you have become proficient in technology (e.g. hardware or software) and used it to solve problems. These skills mastered in real life translate to the ability to do so on the job.
If you have the necessary resources — namely, time, money, interest and accumen — take up a programming language, such as scripting languages or statistics packages. Some examples include Java, C++, Mathematica, MathLab or Python. A simple web search will point you in the right direction. You may or may not ever use them, but they shine like a gold star on your resume–particularly for employers in investment banking, sales and trading, and marketing/market research.
And don’t forget about Bloomberg. That funny-looking computer terminal in the back of the Turchin Library. Jump on, dive in and get certified. Having Bloomberg certification on your resume stands out and further demonstrates the tech expertise that is in such high demand in the job market.