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Pauline – Vice President at Credit Suisse

After six years with Credit Suisse as an Investment Banking analyst and associate in the New York and Hong Kong offices, Pauline became a Vice President of Recruiting and HR. She spent three years running campus recruiting for the Investment Banking Division at the analyst and associate level.

Nicolas: Let’s talk about networking. Did you see any examples at Credit Suisse where someone from a non-target landed an interview?

Pauline: One of the guys really impressed me back when I was recruiting for analyst jobs. He was very persistent and very charismatic. He made a great first impression on one of the recruiters in my team and got invited for an interview, got an internship and eventually landed a full time analyst job.

Nicolas: Was there anything in particular that impressed you about that guy?

Pauline: He was charismatic, as I said, but on top of that he was smart about the group he was applying for. Instead of targeting the glamorous quantitative groups like M&A or Private Equity, he told me he really wanted to get into Capital Markets and made a very strong case to explain why.

Nicolas: That’s a refreshing change compared to all candidates who target M&A and are very disappointed when they get Capital Markets, Private Placement or Private funds. You have a much better chance when you are targeting less sexy groups from the start.

Pauline: Yes, because when we are allocating people to groups we prefer to give the spot to someone who said the group is their first choice.

Nicolas: So what about people who are not as charismatic as this candidate? What can they do?

Pauline: If you can’t impress people then you need to set up multiple informal interviews. Because when we hear three or four times about a candidate from different people in the group we’ll probably invite them for an interview even if the feedback was good and not amazing.

Nicolas: Any thoughts on how to rock informal interviews then?

Pauline: From the banker side, an informal interview purpose is to answer a simple question,  “Is it worth attaching my name to this candidate’s application?“. So at the end of the day even if it’s called “informal” you need to do a lot of prep work before and know what you are talking about.

Another useful tip is in the follow up. One candidate stands out in my mind. We had a long chat and she sent me a quick thank you email the next day, which is pretty standard. Two months later I received a handwritten note where she told me how she applied my advice to land her current job and thanking me again for my time! This kind of special touch really makes me want to follow up with her and keep track of her career path.

Nicolas: I really like the handwritten notes. Actually I send a lot of them to my clients because receiving a real letter gives you a rush! And also because networking is about creating a personal connection with people. Bankers see tons of smart guys but they only have a personal connection with a limited number.

Pauline: Agreed! I also recommend that when you have a chat with someone, you keep track of all the personal details they share with you. The name of their kids or their dogs…these are the things people feel good about, the kind of stuff that creates a personal connection.

Nicolas: And now a more general question for candidates at all level. How can you show that you are a great fit for the firm?

Pauline: A firm is just like a club. If you want to be part of the club, you need to show you know club members and insiders stories. So for instance you can say, “When I talked to Jimmy, your financial group associate, he told me XYZ about the deal flow”. You also need to know where the firm stands league table wise and what are the very strong divisions.

Nicolas: So what would that look like for Credit Suisse for instance?

Pauline: Credit Suisse has, as the name indicates, a very strong Swiss and European influence. Although on the M&A side the top people are still Americans, the private banking is very strong and powerful and they provide income stability.

About Nicolas

Since 2011, I’ve worked with 100+ Investment Banking and Corporate Finance professionals to help them land their dream job. Investment Banking gigs at Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Lazard. Corporate finance jobs at Google, Paypal and much more. From Analyst to Managing Directors, I’ve coached my clients on their networking technique and their LinkedIn profiles; I edited their resumes and cover letters, and grilled them during intensive interview preparation sessions. You may have originally discovered me through my work as an Associate Editor at Mergers & Inquisitions where I’ve been writing for over 200,000 readers. I also give speeches on recruiting and career performance in front of large audiences including Fortune 1000 CEOs, executives and… ambassadors! In 2014, given the amazing results we achieved with my clients I decided to quit my financial analyst job, work full time on coaching and I launched 300 Finance Gurus to dig even deeper into the art of finance recruiting. I am now going to grill 300 Managing Directors, CFOs, VPs, Associates and Analysts as well as headhunters and other coaches to give you the best of the best so you can skyrocket your finance career.