Experts like Koen Vanpraet love helping new, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed candidates find their place in the financial world. Koen Vanpraet is a business management consultant and a well-respected leader in the financial industry.
Koen Vanpraet agreed to do an interview with me and give some amazing advice to those looking to build a career in the financial industry.
What are some of the most important soft skills someone can have when trying to start a career in finance? Things that cannot be taught in school, for example.
Organization skills, showing that you’re analytical, dependable, and detailed oriented goes a long way. These are skills that are absolutely invaluable in order to get started.
Beyond these skills, if you want to go far in this industry, then it’s all about communications skills. Being able to communicate clearly and effectively even advanced concepts to CEOs and shareholders will open so many doors for you.
I think having a Bachelor’s degree can go quite a long way. But Gary Vaynerchuk and Simon Sinek’s works helped me learn that it’s much more about what you learn while you’re in school.
This is especially true if you attend a school specializing in business and finance, for example. As I said, though, it’s all about actually learning during your courses, not just passing them.
Internships are invaluable. I’d say actual work experience is more important than any degree you get.
Sometimes I’ve even worked with businesses that are willing to pay for a potential employee to go to school if they’ve had the proper work experience in the past. Another benefit of this is that it allows you to network with professionals in the financial world.
Do you have any advice for getting a job at a particular business? If someone has a dream company, how can they try to get on at that company?
Whether it’s your dream business or just trying to get in the door anywhere you can, one of the best things you can do is contact someone who works there. Ask them for a coffee chat, talk with them, be polite, ask them what they do, what their day-to-day looks like, and then tell them about yourself.
At the end of your chat, ask if they’d be willing to give you the hiring manager’s contact, or even better, pass your CV or resume on to the hiring manager. Now you have someone you’ve been friends with on the inside, you have more information on the company, and you may even have a reference with the hiring manager’s ear.
LinkedIn is a great place to find people and set up these coffee chats. They can even be done virtually since many companies are hiring remotely nowadays.
Absolutely, networking is extremely important in any industry, especially finance. I’m sure everyone has heard of career fairs, and while they may seem cliche or awkward, they are a fantastic place to talk to potential employers and network.
If you don’t have the skills or the requirements to land a job, you can at least figure out your next steps to gaining employment in the financial sector by talking to experts.