SERVING THE QUANTITATIVE FINANCE COMMUNITY

 
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twofish
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August 24th, 2010, 11:03 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: ArlequantThis was meant to be just a piece of advice, as that kind of attitude plays against them.It really doesn't. If they didn't put the magic keywords in the resume, it would have gotten weeded out before they hit the screening interview. There's probably some nice modest CV by an expert at LMM that you didn't interview because it didn't have magic keywords. Also, quite frankly sometimes the problem is the pay is too low. If you really want a top-notch expert at LMM then you have to be prepared to shell out the bucks to get one.Also, it's pretty common that you go through all of the candidates and you find that *no one* has the level of experience that you want. At that point you do the most with what you have.QuoteYou have to be honest (just say that you have some knowledge about something but do not define yourself as the master if you are not)...It's all quite relative.QuoteI think it is better to surprise the interviewer knowing things that you don't list on your CV than deceiving him/her not knowing things you list in there.Maybe, but then if you don't list something in the CV then you don't get the interview in the first place.
 
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EscapeArtist999
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August 25th, 2010, 8:54 am

It's for these shitty quant jobs that you have t5o go thru the indignity of being vetted for technical skills.... It really doesn't pay enough to be worthwhile...
 
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Bentley
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August 25th, 2010, 9:23 am

shitty jobs?you think quant jobs are shitty?? ...
 
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EscapeArtist999
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August 25th, 2010, 9:31 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: Arlequantshitty jobs?you think quant jobs are shitty?? ...The work is challenging AND boring, it's no less stressful than the rest of the FO, in a sense you r work quality is more easily assessable, and after about 3 years the pay rapidly falls behind the real FO.So yes, I think they're shitty.
 
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Bentley
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August 25th, 2010, 11:11 am

so, what are you doing in the "quant" world?anyway...I do not like to compare my job with jobs I won't be willing to do (trading, sales) I'd rather compare my job with what I would be doing If i were not working for my current employer...and...yeah!... it was real shit...imagine working almost 24/7 earning less than half my current salary!!... I do not know if you are working as a quant right now, but if you don't like it just move! (it is not so difficult as many says here) but if you think quant is sometimes boring I can't imagine what 's your opinion on exotic trading...have you seen the normal day of those guys??!!...that's a ral boring day....and are you sure about the "rapidly falls behind the real FO" ???
 
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mynetself
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August 25th, 2010, 12:42 pm

Arlequant, I'll give you my perspective as a job hunter trying to land his first job in finance. I have spent a massive amount of time trying to understand how to write a "good CV" and on the claims to make in it and my final conclusion is kind of well reflected by the answers you got from the others.In general, I prefer to surprise rather than disappoint, which is why I frequently understate my own skills AND also frequently think of people who do not to be overinflated egos. For example, I'm about to finish a PhD in quantum field theory (funny, I found tons of papers on QFT in finance... go figure) and have a pretty solid understanding of it, especially of its fundamentals. Also, being a PhD in maths I am better in maths than. say, 99% of the people in this world. Having said that, if you meet me in real life and ask me "So, are you any good at QFT and maths?" my most likely reply will be "Yeah, I'm not bad.". You may say I'm dumb for understating my skills, but suffice to take the people from this forum to find people that are better than me in maths, and maybe someone in QFT as well. So compared to them I'm simply "Not bad". Yes, I do compare myself to the best because I take absoultely no pride nor pleasure in winning the Paraolympics... Now consider this versus someone who says "I'm f***ing great!" in maths. Who'd you think is better, no other information given?On the other hand, my attitude is VERY often VERY appreciated in a face to face meeting, which is why I try to talk to headunters by calling them and not just sending the CV, and if at all possible meet them. I recently met two HHs working for the same agency and after talking to the first one he said to the other one "He could work in ANY company!", which the second one told me. And the second one also picked my confidence in dealing with people, which is why he's pushing me for roles in risk management and model validation as "They are looking for someone who could talk to traders confidently.". So yes, I am confident but not arrogant. And this is true about my maths and coding skills as well.And now about the CV. How to convince you that I'm a damn good candidate which is at least interview worthy? I HAVE to use buzz words or you will never ever interview me. And trust me, I perfectly understand that pricing a call using MC does not make me an expert in MC methods. But how to convince you that you should interview me because I might not be an expert but I know the basics, am more than willing to learn and am a great to work with? I had "C++ (learning)" in my CV up until recently, when a friend said that "It simply looks bad. Why would they want to hire someone that is only learning it?". Now, my learning was not meant as in "I have no clue about coding and I'm starting now", and reading my CV carefully you'd be able to pick that I did Fortran coding and am now trying to pick C++ up. And I can definitely write a program to implement numerical algorithms in C++, which doesn't really require more than what I think is basic C++. Am I a master C++ programmer? Hell no. But guess what? The "(learning)" bit has disappeared from my CV...And about this latter point, I think that also the job description/specs that one finds really don't help much. "The team is a leading world class blah, blah, blah and other corporate nonsense". OK, let's see the candidate requirements. "You will know: C++, have a deep understanding of quantitative methods, be highly computer literate" and so on. Question: What the f&*$ does it mean "You must know C++"? What is "deep undersanding of quantitative methods"? What is "high literacy" when it comes to computers? Is it enough to know how to run multiple systems having partitioned the disk appropriately and have, say, the virtual memory partitions on a separate and parallelly connected hard disk? Or must I know how to modify the linux kernel to reduce the response time by 5ms? You will agree that both are out of reach of MOST people on this world, yet there is a HUGE difference in knowledge between the two. I'm willing to bet the job description you were interviewing for had all this nonsense on and more. But there is no way to actually give me a way of finding out HOW MUCH of each skill I need to have. Why don't the job descriptions specifically list the MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS. Something like "Financial knowledge: You will have read Hull's book and implemented all the models using various techniques (binomial trees, MC and finite difference solvers.". And even here I'm sure one could be even more specific. And if you do it, then I could say "Yes, this job I could do" or "I couldn't do". But since all you ask for is "Expertise in derivatives pricing" then here I come, an "expert" in derivatives pricing! (No, I do not have that on my CV... maybe I should though.)So now as a hirinig manager, please let me know how should I write my CV so that it will give me the chance to surprise you?One last thing. Pricing an Euro call for a Masters thesis is a really low requirement for anything worth calling a Thesis. It's more an exercise to what a real Thesis should be about in my (not so humble now) opinion.
Last edited by mynetself on August 24th, 2010, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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GiusCo
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August 25th, 2010, 1:06 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: mynetselfArlequant, I'll give you my perspective as a job hunter trying to land his first job in finance. Not strictly from finance but from my own skin on both sides... you should really keep it very short- 1 page CV- prove you can do the daily tasks: scoop them by networking (or in the internet) and try- consider there is uncertainty about termination of your PhD (no more research to do? no writing up period? no risk of "unexpected" mess?)the hiring process is somewhat casual, you need a bit of luck in fitting the right place at the right time... the best way is trying again and again
 
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Bentley
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August 25th, 2010, 1:14 pm

sorry mynetslef...you are trying to land in your first job and, for that case, i might be wrong (well..I haveto recognize that my advice is not useful for juniors)...it is better to overstate yourself so you increase your chances of getting the interview...my advice was more focused on people with a few years of experience (it is easier for them/us switch to a new job) By the Way I'm not a Hiring Manager (nothing close to a 'manager') , I'm just a 'standard quant' who sometimes have to interview candidates
 
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twofish
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August 25th, 2010, 1:35 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: mynetselfFor example, I'm about to finish a PhD in quantum field theory (funny, I found tons of papers on QFT in finance... go figure) and have a pretty solid understanding of it, especially of its fundamentals.Most of those date from around 2000-2005. Trying to apply QFT to finance turns out to be something of a dead end, for reasons which is another post.QuoteAlso, being a PhD in maths I am better in maths than. say, 99% of the people in this world. Having said that, if you meet me in real life and ask me "So, are you any good at QFT and maths?" my most likely reply will be "Yeah, I'm not bad.". You may say I'm dumb for understating my skills, but suffice to take the people from this forum to find people that are better than me in maths, and maybe someone in QFT as well.I've found self-evaluation to be pretty awful at figuring out the quality of a candidate, and the important thing in any resume is to show and not tell. If it's obvious from your resume that you've done serious QFT, then I can assume that your math is pretty good, and this can be confirmed by throwing a few questions at you.QuoteAnd now about the CV. How to convince you that I'm a damn good candidate which is at least interview worthy? I HAVE to use buzz words or you will never ever interview me.You have to use buzzwords to get around the HR or HH that does the first pass filter of resumes. Now I know that if you can do QFT, then the odds are that you can do MC code, but most HR or HH have no clue about this. You may need some buzzwords, but it's best to use the bare minimum to get past the filter. In any case, if you have Ph.D. physics, then that's usually enough to get past the first filter.QuoteBut there is no way to actually give me a way of finding out HOW MUCH of each skill I need to have. Why don't the job descriptions specifically list the MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS.1) Because if you list the requirements then you'll get a million resumes claim to meet those requirements. If you don't list the requirements, then you don't give people a chance to modify their resumes to look good to you since they don't know what you are looking for,.2) Because the requirements are pretty flexible. If your maths is good enough, then it's ok for your C++ to be lousy, and vice versa. If you have a nice personality, then it's OK for your technical skills to be not quite as good.3) Because a lot of times, hiring involves seeing what's out there and figuring taking the best of what's out there.4) Because letting people know what skills are really special can give out some proprietary information. For example, if you know that I'm *REALLY* interested in people with experience in common Lisp and maxima (hypothetically) then that tells you what I'm working and then you go back to 1) i.e. you have a ton of resumes claiming common Lisp knowledge.QuoteBut since all you ask for is "Expertise in derivatives pricing" then hereii I come, an "expert" in derivatives pricing! (No, I do not have that on my CV... maybe I should though.)Except that it will be obvious from your CV that you aren't one. If you just have a physics Ph.D. with no real work experience or no contact with derivatives, then it's going to be incredibly obvious that you aren't an expert at derivatives pricing. Now rather than saying that you are or are not an expert at derivatives pricing, you need to *show* expertise. If you have an internship at some bank, or if you've published a paper, or you worked on some project with someone.Also, it is possible to be overqualified. If you to convince me that you are the world's expert in Peruvian interest rate derivatives, this may be a bad thing. At this point, the people might look at your CV and say "too expensive, we don't have the budget for an expert" and then pass.QuoteSo now as a hiring manager, please let me know how should I write my CV so that it will give me the chance to surprise you?What about not surprising me? Just list what you think is your relevant expertise and experience.
Last edited by twofish on August 24th, 2010, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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twofish
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August 25th, 2010, 2:23 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: mynetselfBut how to convince you that you should interview me because I might not be an expert but I know the basics, am more than willing to learn and am a great to work with?Show, don't tell. If you can do QFT and you have worked on production systems in Fortran, then presumably you can do some C++. In this situation, even mentioning C++, weakens your resume, since we might (or might not) be interested in a Fortran guru.Something that turns a reader off very quickly is a resume that is obviously buzzword oriented.Quotereading my CV carefully you'd be able to pick that I did Fortran coding and am now trying to pick C++ upIf I have to read your resume carefully to figure that out, then you really do need to rewrite your resume. That sort of information should be blindingly obvious.QuoteAm I a master C++ programmer? Hell no. But guess what? The "(learning)" bit has disappeared from my CV...But if you just have C++ and nothing else to support the resume, it weakens the resume. One question that resume writers have to ask themselves is what are you *BAD* at. If you claim to be expert at C++, math, and finance, then no one will believe you, and if someone did believe you, you'd be overqualified and get your resume trashed. If you've just started to learn C++ and can code basic Fortran algorithms in C++, then it's better that you just leave C++ off your resume, and it may kill you if we just happen to be looking for a Fortran guru. Now if we *are* looking for a Fortran guru, it's not going to be in the job requirements for reasons that I mentioned earlier. The second Fortran gets mentioned in the job advert, we'll get a million CV's with the keyword Fortran. If we don't mention whether we are looking for a Fortran guru, it makes it much easier to find one.QuoteIs it enough to know how to run multiple systems having partitioned the disk appropriately and have, say, the virtual memory partitions on a separate and parallelly connected hard disk? Or must I know how to modify the linux kernel to reduce the response time by 5ms?Depends on the position. QuoteBut there is no way to actually give me a way of finding out HOW MUCH of each skill I need to have.Why do you need to know? Send in the resume, if you have the right skills, you get a phone call, if you don't, you don't.
 
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ran310
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August 25th, 2010, 2:34 pm

As a recent job-seeker, I feel somewhat qualified to comment on this topic. However, I am a fresh grad (computer science PhD) with no prior work experience. I had atleast phone interviews with almost every place I applied at, and was able to convert these to a good number of onsite interviews, of which I had a ~70% success rate when it came to job offers. I experienced success at traditional tech companies, investment banks and hedge funds.1. It is imperative that you know all the topics listed on your CV in great detail. I was surprised when I encountered some detailed questions about a project I had at IBM Research almost 7 years ago. Sometimes you may be able to deflect a question by saying you don't remember the exact details, but do not try that twice in the same interview. It may make sense to remove certain topics from your resume if you are not confident/familiar with them anymore. In general, it is better to be extremely proficient in few topics as opposed to fairly moderate on multiple topics.2. As others have pointed out, it is imperative that you use a few buzz words relevant to your field on your resume. In many cases, I modified my resume slightly to suit the interests of the company/group I was interviewing at. I found that this technique works wonders, so it is essential that you are able to spin your work in multiple ways. For instance, I had done some work on a project that used geographical datasets. Though my work was slightly tangential, I was able to use this project to secure an interview with the Maps division of another company. 3. Using superlatives like "expert" , "experienced" , "master" etc. are no good. I feel that their use should be avoided on a resume. Leave it to the interviewer to judge whether you're a novice, master or guru.4. Being humble is an important aspect. No one would like to work with a candidate who is arrogant in the interview. It even helps to go on the other side and be more humble than you would normally be. When speaking about your work, it helps to highlight the positive aspects, but speaking about some shortcomings/future work shows that you have perspective. It goes a lot in assuring the interviewer about your depth of knowledge, ethics and genuine interest in making things work.
 
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mynetself
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August 25th, 2010, 6:09 pm

GiusCo -> Will submit in a couple of days and will defend in early October. No unexpected mess TwoFish -> I think I kind of get how to write a CV and if you'll want to have a look I'll pm you a link. If I claim something, there is evidence to back that up. I'm also not claiming I am a Fortran guru since I am not. And it should be very clear what my coding competences are if one reads the CV. But I did spice it up a bit using buzzwords. What I'm trying to convey is that I know the basic stuff and am working on improving it. And I guess I'm waiting to find the hiring manager that will be happy with that. Incidentally, I just checked and I still have the "C++ (learning)" bit - I guess I'm just too honest about my skills I really am not comfortable in claiming I can do something that I can't. I might be wrong and missing opportunities, but I think it's a waste of time to go to an interview based on a skill I do not have. Waste of my and of the company's time. In any case, your responses reinforce my view about the job hunting process. There are some basic principles on how to write the CV to better market yourself, but no rules set in stone. And once you stick to those principles, a number of other factor beyond your control come in. As for the job description and the hiring attitude, it seems to me that it's a bit like saying: I want a smoking hot woman who is also smart, funny, knows how to cook fantastically and is great in bed; lacking that, if she's not ugly, is funny and great in bed (pick your favourite mix here...) I'll take her. But I appreciate your explanation, it's good to know how the company thinks.ran310 -> I am humble. Humble, but confident.Anyway, didn't want to steer the conversation on my CV and my job-hunting. Was just trying to say that it seems to me that a bit of hype on the resume seems to be more successful as an approach than just by being very honest about it.
 
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twofish
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August 26th, 2010, 3:23 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: ran310i.2. As others have pointed out, it is imperative that you use a few buzz words relevant to your field on your resume.You need to put in some buzzwords, but if your whole resume consists of buzzwords, then it's not going to be credible. Also it's essential that those buzzwords be supported by details in the rest of your resume. If you mention C++, then it needs to be blindingly obvious from the resume where you got the C++ experience from. If you just say C++ and there is nothing to support it, then again, it's not credible.The reason that buzzwords are important is that the first pass is made by someone that is non-technical that is just doing a keyword search. Quote3. Using superlatives like "expert" , "experienced" , "master" etc. are no good. I feel that their use should be avoided on a resume.Absolutely avoid the words expert or experienced. If you want to convince people that you are an expert in monte carlo methods, talk about the paper that you did in monte carlo and the fact that you spent five years of your life doing a dissertation that involved monte carlo methods. Anyone can call themselves an "expert" so it's important that you write your resume in a way that someone random person can't copy.Quote4. Being humble is an important aspect. No one would like to work with a candidate who is arrogant in the interview.There are a lot of questions that seem like technical questions, but are really personality questions. When someone asks you, "Why did you leave your last employer?" or "How would you rate your programming skills?" They really don't care why you left your last employer or how good or bad your programming skills are.This leads to another bit of resume advice. Do not talk about your personality on the resume. Don't tell me how hard-working, creative, passionate, or innovative you are? Also it's a waste of space to say that you are interested in finance. Presumably if you weren't interested in finance at all, you wouldn't be applying for a job. Personality characteristics *are* important, but there is no way that you can judge someones personality based on a piece of paper.
Last edited by twofish on August 25th, 2010, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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twofish
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August 26th, 2010, 4:21 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: mynetselfI'm also not claiming I am a Fortran guru since I am not.How do you know you are not?QuoteWhat I'm trying to convey is that I know the basic stuff and am working on improving it.There's no need to convey that. If you have a physics Ph.D. and have done QFT and have done Fortran programming, then I can assume you can learn some C++. You do need to talk about exactly what Fortran programming you have done. If your Fortran experience includes working on 100,000 line QCD code, then I'll assume that you can pick up C++ even if you know nothing about it now.I should point out that the reason C++ skills are in demand has nothing to do with C++. It may be that you are not going to be programming in C++ at all, and it may be that we have a fortran system for you to babysit. The reason people look for C++ is that it's assumed that if you know C++, then I can hand you a language that you've never heard of, and you won't freeze.QuoteAnd I guess I'm waiting to find the hiring manager that will be happy with that.You have to remember that it's not a game between you and the hiring manager. The real competition is between you and the other resumes in the stack. Why should the manager pick your resume over the next one? The odds are that if you get picked it's *NOT* because you are willing and able to learn C++, since it's likely that the eight other candidates in the list are willing and able to learn C++. If it's a job that requires C++ coding skills, you don't have them and some other person does, you lose. On the other hand, if it's a job that requires the ability to do QFT, you are going to beat out someone that just knows how to code C++.QuoteI guess I'm just too honest about my skills I really am not comfortable in claiming I can do something that I can't. I might be wrong and missing opportunitiesState facts. Don't state conclusions. Let the reader figure out the conclusions. Something that you need to be aware of is that you will frequently be asked to fix problems that you have no expertise in, and part of what people in this field are looking for is for people that can learn quickly. You may be asked to debug a computer algebraic system written in common lisp, and the fact that you know nothing about computer algebraic systems and common lisp is not an excuse. What you don't know, learn.The other thing is don't dwell on what you *don't* know. Dwell on what you *do* know.QuoteAnd once you stick to those principles, a number of other factor beyond your control come in.You chances of getting any particular job is quite low. Maybe one in 20. However, if you put out enough applications and there are enough open positions, the randomness factor decreases considerably. Whether you will get a *particular* job is largely a matter of luck, but luck is much less important a factor in seeing that you get *a job* out of the hundred or so you interview for.QuoteAs for the job description and the hiring attitude, it seems to me that it's a bit like saying: I want a smoking hot woman who is also smart, funny, knows how to cook fantastically and is great in bed;And the key bit of information is that you know that someone is looking for something, and here is the e-mail address. Everything else is unnecessary information. Any time, you post any sort of job ad, you are going to be *FLOODED* by resumes, and the vast majority of those resumes (80%+) are going to be from people that are clearly unqualified for the position. This is why its sort of useless for companies to post exact requirements, and why companies don't even try. If I post *PH.D. REQUIRED*, then you are going to get a flood of resumes that have bachelors degrees. Since I'm going to have to dig through those anyone, it's sort of pointless to post any requirements.QuoteWas just trying to say that it seems to me that a bit of hype on the resume seems to be more successful as an approach than just by being very honest about it.It a communication issue, and not an honesty issue. You have to be very honest, but there is a particular way of communicating information in resumes, and it's like mastering a new language. You also have to look at things from the point of view of the person reading the resume. You are just a piece of paper to them, and just one resume in a stack of twenty. This is why hype doesn't work. If you just write C++, stochastic differential equations, and monte carlo in your resume, then it's just going to look exactly like every other resume in the stack, and if you write C++ with no other supporting information, then I'm going to assume that you just picked up a book on Amazon and did a few exercises here and there and you read Hull.As far as communication, you have to put in the resume things that people can't just randomly add. If you put that you are learning C++, that's not useful information. Who *isn't* learning C++? If you say that you are an "expert" then I have to rely on your judgment, which is hard thing to do because I really don't know you. If you say that you've worked on CFD systems with 100,000 lines of code, that's something people just can't make up at random.The other piece of FYI, information is that traditionally physics Ph.D.'s are very strong in differential equations, but rather weak on statistics. If you have done anything statistical in your Ph.D., that would make your resume more interesting.
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