Summers are usually the second toughest season for getting hold of people in the financial industry (after the holiday season in December), as many Wall Streeters busy themselves with planning summer vacations. So don’t be surprised if you send out a cover letter and receive no reply in days or even weeks. You may want to follow up in two or three weeks with an e-mail or phone call.
Of course, summer ’08 is turning out to be extra tough for finance quant job seekers as the financial job market continues its slide. More firms are laying off professionals as the aftermath of the credit fiasco of ’07 continues to play out. There’s no telling when the job market will improve. My own sense is by October, when firms need to finalize their 2009 budget, we’ll get a clearer picture of what the job market will be like.
If you’re in school, time to begin polishing your resume and practice interview skills, as well as talking to your career office and looking for contacts on the Street. My quant job search book has a lot to say about this process. Don’t forget to have a Plan B, just in case you can’t find a quant job by the time you graduate.
If you’re in a different industry and still want to become a quant — bravo! — make sure you possess the essential skills in at least one quantitative discipline (e.g., stochastics, statistics, time series) and knows C++ well. Don’t quit your job yet. Cast your net wide during your search process.