Ah, the old days. In the 1990s nobody knew what an ETF was. If you showed enthusiasm for this weird, new passive thingamajig, you would probably be given a job and, two decades later, be called a “great pioneer”.

Now the market is worth $4 trillion and is saturated with products, pioneers and people. But it’s still growing at an astronomical pace and there are plenty of opportunities.

To make a new career move within the industry, or to get a foot in the door, our ETF Stars have told Jobs in ETFs time and time again that you have to be smart, work hard, and make sure that you prove yourself – from day one.

It’s already May and time flies. Before you raise a glass of champagne to the New Year, let the below tips and tricks – many of them from our ETF Stars – inspire you to make progress in your career now. 

1. Get on Social Media

Gone are the days that you can be invisible online. Especially if you’re a newbie, it’ time to get noticed. Take down any boozy or unprofessional pictures, photoshop the “I heart Nick / Tabatha” tattoo from your neck, and start re-building your brand. If you sound like the voice of authority on Twitter, and you’re sharing and engaging in the industry, people may already come to know you and your experience before you’ve even walked through the door of an interview.

2. LinkedIn, LinkedIn, LinkedIn

Before I forget, update your LinkedIn. Complete the whole profile, add your hobbies, your education, be complete in describing your current and previous roles, and for goodness sake, get endorsements from the right people.

3. Sell Yourself

Not many people like this, or know how to do it, but it’s imperative to sell yourself. On social media and in person. It doesn’t mean showing off until your face is blue, but it means having the confidence to put yourself forward and pitch in, whether at a networking event, in an interview or at a party where you’ve just learnt your partner’s friend is the CEO of the Dream Firm.

4. Say Yes

Yes, I can speak at that event. Yes, of course, I can reschedule the interview. No problem, I can do a presentation and speak for 30 minutes on the iNAV of an ETF – even if you didn’t know what that was last week. Yes, I would be willing to relocate. Absolutely, I can do the graveshift hours, and try to wangle out of them later. Radiate positivity, and the saying goes that people will radiate positivity back. Worth a try?

5. Be Prepared

It’s the Boy Scout motto, but it works equally well in the ETF industry. The ETF is not ‘passive’ – it’s  complex animal and needs understanding and respect. One thing you will quickly learn is how tight-knit and passionate ETF industry participants are, and they know their stuff. So should you.

Preparation means knowing how to answer questions, and which ones to ask, at an interview. It means addressing your cover letters to a specific person that would be your boss, not “Hello, HR” or “Dear Sir / Madame”. It means going the extra mile. There are also several publications that focus on ETFs so you can get clued up.

6. Network

There are a ton of ETF events put on every year in London & New York. Often they are advertised online or through social media, and if not, feel free to email the communications or marketing team at a company to find out. If you’re not already in the circle, it’s time to barge in. Women In ETFs is also a fabulous resource for men and women who want to learn, have fun and make contacts.

Stop thinking of networking as speed-dating – it isn’t. Picture yourself in a coffee shop and striking up a conversation. You’re happy, you’ve got your coffee, you’re relaxed, and oh, by the by, you’re ace at assessing the risk of soybean futures.

7. It’s Not All About Who You Know

The caveat to the above – about the ETF industry being cosy and friendly – is that you still have to know what you’re talking about, or give the impression you will learn quickly, to get a foot in the door. Nepotism is on the slow decline, apparently. There’s nobody and nothing stopping you from making a show-stopping entrance without that comforting hand on your shoulder from Uncle Jimmy.

Plus, be smart with who you know, otherwise your contacts will add up to nothing. You may have more than 500 contacts on LinkedIn, but do they all know what you’re good at and what you can do for them?

8. Don’t rely on your company to teach you new skills

Although what you learn at one job can often be crucial to landing the next job, if there’s something you don’t know or some technical skill you want to learn, the chances are you will have to dedicate some of your spare time to learning it. More coffee….

9. Never feel inferior

Everyone is born with zero knowledge. Some people will start in one career early and work their way up. Others will go side to side, some will jump ship entirely. Who is to say what path is right? Also, don’t be afraid to ask the silly questions, and to reach out to people who are much more senior than you for help or guidance. They are human too. More often than not, they will be flattered if they are asked for advice and may even enjoy doling out their magic sauce.

10. Always on the look out

While the vast majority of your time and effort will be spent on your current role, don’t forget to keep your ears to the ground. Has a vacancy for your dream job come and gone online while you were battling with that spreadsheet? You need to allocate time and energy to building a network and the skills to make sure you can propel yourself onto the next thing when the time is right.

11. Consider moving if you want more money

Companies, sadly, often make the mistake of not investing in staff in order to retain them. They get trapped in the view that you already do what you do for a certain salary so why raise it and not get more back? The easiest thing is to move jobs. Oh, and when asked for salary expectations, aim high, as their offer is likely to be at the lower end of their negotiating bracket.

12. Take a break when you need it

If you feel really rubbish all of a sudden and become demotivated, take a break. Use those legs and walk around the block, and perhaps get a coffee. Looking for work is just as tough as working in the office. Try to adopt a thick skin, accept constructive criticism – always push for feedback if you don’t get the job – and if you only remember one point, remember this: just tell people what you’re good at and why they need you.

13. Don’t drink too much coffee

I’ve mentioned coffee a few times but honestly, too much will make your eyes bloodshot and your teeth yellow and that really isn’t a good look. One a day is the aim.