With this blog entry, I’m starting a new category of tips called "common mistakes." (As with the sample quantitative questions, you can subscribe to the RSS feed for this category.) These tips will show you examples of the types of mistakes, common and uncommon, that I’ve seen job candidates commit. Well, in fact, I’ve made some of the same mistakes myself.
They say one learns best when one learns from others’ mistakes. I couldn’t agree more. I hope this new category will help you steer clear of things you shouldn’t do during the job hunting process.
Common Mistake #1: misspell the name of the recipient of your resume
Because a lot of quants are foreign-born and come from various corners of the world, many candidates have trouble spelling the names of quants they send their resumes to. Nothing can look worse to a quant or potential employer who discovers that his or her name is misspelled in the cover letter. In my book I mention one of Dale Carnegie‘s cardinal principles: a person’s name is the sweetest-sounding thing in the world to him or her. If he or she sees his or her name misspelled, a very strong sense of resentment will be aroused. As a candidate, you absolutely don’t want that to happen.
BTW, the spelling error can be a typo (especially with long names), or a transposition of the first (given) and last (family) names. For example, when I see people addressing me as "Dear Mr. Jiu Brett," I get ticked off and usually just throw the correspondence into trash (or cut off the caller if it’s a phone call).
Therefore, always double-check, triple-check the spelling of the name of the person you are writing to, both in the letter itself and on the envelope if you’re mailing it. Also, make sure you get his or her title and/or position correct.