IV batting average#biased guesstimate; no obsession

Disclaimer… These numbers are seriously unscientific and heavily biased and subjective. They are also biased due to the sample — I probably excluded many cases.

Out of a hypothetical 720 positions applied,

across java #no HFT across c++ non-HFT HFT
No. shortlisted based on CV 1/3 like 240 1/3 – 1/4 like 180 same as c++[1] like 180
No. passing initial screening 2/3 like 160 2/3 i.e. 120 1/3 like 60
No. technical win [3] 1/2 like 80 1/2 i.e. 60 20%[2] i.e. 12
No. offers 1/2

[1] HFT firms are very open and welcomes everyone to apply

[2] I feel if I keep trying I will pass an HFT tech interview! but if I don’t fit in, it’s not easy to find another HFT job.

[3] proved my competence (at least to myself) i.e. can do the job, but they may not like some perceived “weaknesses”, technical or communications.


CV-competition: Sg 10x tougher than U.S.

Sg is much harder, so … I better focus my CV effort on the Sg/HK/China market.

OK U.S. job market is not easy, but statistically, my CV had a reasonable hit rate (like 20% at least) because

  • contract employers don’t worry about my job hopper image
  • contract employers have quick decision making
  • some full time hiring managers are rather quick
  • age…
  • Finally, the number of jobs is so much more than Sg


tech screening passed(but still rejected): pat on your own back

Always remember that before you invested months of serious effort, you couldn’t pass the tech screening.

One of my fundamental principles — focus on tech screening and don’t worry about offer. Once I pass technical screening, it becomes a beauty contest or personality match. If interviewers don’t like a competent candidate for age, face, language, lackOfHumor, communication style (often related to culture, nationality and up-brining) …, then I will grin and say never mind. Sooner or later someone will like my personality.

They may say candidate is cocky, opinionated … There’s no right or wrong here. Another interviewer may not feel that way.

The average programmer doesn’t have an off-putting personality, definitely not in an interview, so for every 3 interviewers who don’t like him, there will be some interviewer out there who likes him.


coding test^QQ: relative importance

Let’s focus on technical screening but put aside SDI questions, which are sometimes like QnA.

  • In terms of weight assigned by employer — coding 50/50 QnA on average, though only on-site coding is authentic.
  • interviewers’ time — coding 33/66 QnA.
  • candidate’s time — roughly 45/55. On average coding takes us less time but more effort.
  • candidate’s effort — coding 75/25 QnA. QnA requires effort in advance but little effort during the interview.
    • I feel coding tests often require substantial concentration/effort but many people are not willing. One hour of coding test effort == 4 hours of project effort
    • timed coding test is like exam… full concentration.
  • rejection percentage — coding 66/33 QnA on average. I feel higher rejection rate in coding than QnA, partly due to insufficient effort. West Coast and HFT has higher rejection on coding tests.
  • In terms of long term benefit to financial security and family well being — about the same value.

%%offers 2017

All confirmed offers.

$c2c co where primary tech other tech domain nlg duration
100 pimco Burak NPB[1] c++11 🙂 🙂 🙂 java, possibly Hadoop 🙂 FI accrual math 🙂 3+
100 Pimco Zoltan NYC java framework 🙂 🙂 flexible
100+ bgc Alexi NYC java minimal cpp FX.. trading to perm 😦 😦 😦
below 100 😦 😦 Ravi Chgo 😦 😦 Qz 😦 😦 😦 java FI trading again flexible
perm Nitin Shanghai java perm
perm Tradeweb JC VC++ FI ECN perm
85 baml NYC VC++ repo 😦 12M?

[1] A bit hard to get next job in NY, but helps me get a next job in West Coast. However, in terms of buying a home, I just don’t know.

IV^CV is real battle

(Adapted from a Mar 2017 letter to Lisa Wang… )Let me share my observations and reflections on this tough job hunt. Another stock-taking. Focus here is non-finance jobs in the U.S.

For months I used a slightly tweaked CV for non-banking (“main street”) tech positions, but it’s not working — Out of the 30 to 40 non-finance positions I applied, precious few (15%??) recruiters were interested. Suppose 5 recruiters showed interest, I guess not all of them submitted my resume. Suppose 4 did submit. So far, no hiring manager was impressed with my non-finance CV. (Response from financial firms are better but not my focus today.)

So different from my prime time (from 2010 to 2012) when my finance-oriented resume was selling like a hot cake. I would estimate more than 50% of the recruiters were impressed and many hiring managers showed interest.

Of course, I’m comparing my “main street” resume against my Wall-St resume. Not a fair comparison but it does highlight these key issues:

Recruiter engagement is the #1 issue and hiring manager engagement is #2 issue. Interview competence is a distant #3 and not a key issue. Many people disagree — “you need no more than one successful interview.” They believe a 50-80% interview success rate is the silver bullet needed. Well, how long must you wait before you fire your silver bullet?

I feel much better if my interview pass rate is only 20% (or 10%), but I get 5 times more interviews! I learned from experience that my interview performance improvement is limited without sufficient interviews. So it’s far more effective and strategic to work on getting more interviews. I don’t want to be one of those guys who need 6 months to find a job. I see them starved of oxygen. Steady flow of interviews keep me motivated and focused, too.

In conclusion the key issue is crafting a compelling resume to engage recruiters and hiring managers. (A more pressing issue on main-street front than on the Wall-st front.)

Therefore, I count each interview scheduled as a success. In contrast, an offer is less significant an achievement. Analogies:
* as a singer, each TV appearance is a success; Winning a singing contest is less significant.
* as a growing basketballer, each time I get to play on court is a success; winning a game is less significant.

I have always told my peers that 90% of the job candidate competition is on the resume, and 10% on interviews. (Now I feel 95%/5%) Many candidates can pass interviews if given the chance. The chance is given to winning resumes. I say this to my friends because I learned from experience to invest much more effort improving the resume, until it can impress a large percentage of recruiters and hiring managers.

For the “main street” positions, I hope to engage 33% of the recruiters and 10% of the hiring managers. With that, if I were to try 30 opportunities, I could expect to get 3 interviews!

creative writing on CV #CSY

Hi Shanyou,

Sharing my observations…

Creative resume writing is an “art”. Over the years I have worked out some rules of thumb.

  • Be careful with the dates in the CV, as they can be used as evidence of cheating.
    • o I sometimes specify only the year without month. If recruiter asks for the month, I would say, it means entire year is on that project
    • o I don’t massage the dates in the last 7 years, but earlier than that, I’m more creative
    • o I’m more careful with *perm employee* project dates as the employer often has a compliance requirement to release the dates when requested
    • o Contract agencies may close down or change name. The account managers in charge of my assignment often change job. The dates they have in their system is less reliable.
      • Also, Under one agency, I could have 2 assignments at two sites, so the dates are fuzzy.
    • o Since I changed jobs too many times, I sometimes combine the earliest 3 jobs into one, when I know the employer is already gone, and it’s 12 years ago.
  • Job duty is really up to me to write, esp. with my contract jobs. Also jobs done 7 years ago are not so relevant, so the background checkers are less concerned. I often shift or copy my “job duties” section from one job to another job.
  • The technical experience or domain experience are up to me to write.
    • o I used to mention java swing in 5 out of 7 past jobs. This way, my resume looked like a java swing veteran.
    • o I used to mention connectivity in 5 out of 7 past jobs.
    • o I used to mention c# in all of my past jobs.
    • o I used to mention Forex in 4 out of 6 past jobs (To create an impression of “Forex focus” I delete all jobs that are unrelated to forex. If recruiter ask about the gap, I say it’s irrelevant or I say I was jobless). Actually, only 2 jobs had some forex element.
  • I keep 3 versions of resume. I create a temporary version when a job application requires it. I don’t spend more than 20 minutes creating each version, as the effort is unlikely to pay dividends.

This is a trial-and-error process. I sometimes become over-creative and test the market. If no one notices or questions me over a few (10?) job interviews, then it’s considered very safe creativity. If they do spot any inconsistency, then I back off and admit a typo mistake.

I now think some hiring managers are suspicious or very perceptive so they could see through my creativity but won’t say anything, so I am completely unaware.

I see the resume as advertisement. The goal is an initial interview. If I ace the interview, they basically accept the resume as is.