Traders Ask: How Do You Get Hired as a Trader?

BellaMike Bellafiore's (Bella's) Blogs, Traders Ask14 Comments

Hello Mike B. Great book I must say. Very inspiring. Thank you for the quick response. I must ask though since you are the co-founder of SMB what should I do in school (academics to increase my chances of employment at SMB? I know from reading your book that HR pretty much decides if they want to interview an applicant so I have to stand out some way. Don’t forget my name though lol. I will of course trade my personal account with money saved up working min wage and read books/blogs to improve my knowledge and skills.

Bella Responds

Let me share a story with you of a college student who you should emulate. Let’s call him the Next Franchise (the original Franchise is from One Good Trade in the chapter These Guys are Good). He has been trading for years in college. He has trading records.  He writes me an email at least twice a month searching for ideas on how to improve. He follows up with tangible examples of how he has improved. He has been to our in-house seminars. Met all the partners. We all know his name. He is still in college. In fact the other day I made sure HR added him to our new software that tracks our June prospects. How many readers are trying to get the attention of a hirer? I have a thousand daily tasks. Yet I went out of my way to make sure that this future trader was being tracked by us.

Let’s flip this question on its head Seth Godinesque. Instead of asking me how you might get hired, ask what can you do so I have to hire you? As Godin implores in Lynchpin to become indispensable. I cannot wait to start working with the next franchise. If somehow he ends up elsewhere I will consider that a huge loss to SMB.

Traders trade. Traders read trading. Traders know other traders. Firms hire traders.

You can be better tomorrow than you are today!

Mike Bellafiore

One Good Trade
The PlayBook

No relevant positions

14 Comments on “Traders Ask: How Do You Get Hired as a Trader?”

  1. Mike , am I right that some prop firms hire only new trader without any trading experience because they want to build up the skills from the ground and want not to deal with already acquired bad trading habits?
    This seems not the case with SMB. Any reasons?


  2. Why should a successful trader want to get hired? Why should a firm want to hire a bad trader? You get it?

  3. I guess there are many reasons good trader just after college would like to be hired. It is same like in other profession you go yo college to get good marks and to get good job. Doesn’t meter who bright you are, chances that you are going to start your business just after college are slim.

    In trading like in any other profession experience is very important. So if I would be in position to start trading some other markets would like to go and see how pros are doing it. And best way to do that is go work for them.

    Bella just to tell you big THANK YOU for great book and just to know it reached South Africa and Serbia. I guess you would never guess it will get so far when you wrote it.

  4. I would say, in general, traders do not get hired. This is based on my own experience and being, I feel, one of the best in predicting the markets over the years. There are a few routes though to pursuing one’s passion,

    1. Go to a top notch school and get a degree in computer science and try to get in as a developer. Many of the firms that are hiring are high frequency and they do hire developers. This is not being hired as a trader though. And, as a software developer, I am not sure that this would be any more rewarding then any other software development.

    2. Go to an Ivy League school and try to get in at the ground floor at an investment bank as an analyst.

    3. Develop a track record and try to sell yourself or strategies to investors. This is not easy as it sounds or perhaps it is as difficult as it sounds. If your ability is even partially discretionary in nature, like mine, then expect it to be made especially difficult. You are selling a product at the end of the day and you have to be able to adjust that product to fit the whims of your investors. In a strong bull market with low volatility that will be especially difficult. More over, you have to know what they want. Most want highly scalable strategies that are well quantified.

    Whilst likely to be of limited benefit particularly if you are not naturally gifted in the mathematics, your best bet would be to focus on mathematics, statistics, and computer science. The strongest combination would be an undergraduate degree in computer science, engineering, or applied mathematics and some higher degree, i.e an MBA.

    As for coming in off the street, those firms are typically looking for someone living with their parents or who can live on a stipend. You need to get in young because they expect you to wash out. If you become too successful, i.e make too much money, they will not want to pay you what you are worth, i.e enough to live. It becomes a problem because they expect you to fail anyway.

  5. I’d like to think the best traders are those who can challenge conventional thinking and understand the market is more than just a series of mathematical equations. Having done very well myself without a collage education and worked with some pretty special people who have done the same I personally don’t subscribe to this view. Attitude and enthusiasm fair better than a degree in my book which I think (if I’ve understood correctly) is what Mike’s hinting at.

    Considering your point 1, I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone. Having worked as a developer and in IT for 20 years and now managing IT teams I can tell you that current trends in IT are to outsource developers, not hire them locally !

  6. Agree in general with everything you’ve said. However, a CS degree shows strong computer and quantitative skills which are very applicable to trading.

    One useful thing to do is to actually search for trading positions on job sites. You can then try to put yourself in the position of the hiring manager, read between the lines a bit, and gain some useful knowledge. This is a useful skill to develop. I did not see any SMB trading job postings. One might think if Bella wanted the next Franchise that he might post a job or request information, if someone were to claim they were one of the best at reading the market. But, there is quite a bit of activity in the HFT and many of those guys are hiring.

    I only found one non quant trading position posted but reading “between-the-lines” revealed that the real purpose was to write reports and push product. They wanted a finance background. Finance is considered somewhat impractical though.

    Strong realistic combination would be a B.S CS, Masters Finance, or CS and MBA.

  7. There is no one right answer to this, but I can tell you that many traders are suspicious of people with backgrounds in very logical disciplines like CS, accounting, etc… even a finance degree or MBA… and even an engineering degree can potentially be a bit of a liability in some circles.

    The problem boils down to the fact that the market is not a math problem. It may look like a math problem because it generates numerical data, but ultimately, solving the market problem involves a fair amount of creative and inductive thinking.

    It really depends. Obviously the requirements for writing code for HFT are very different than the requirements for being a portfolio manager are very different from being a prop trader… etc etc. People probably overestimate the quantitative demands of most types of trading.

  8. One thing that is worth pointing out, losers want to trade. Winners want to trade because they believe they can be the best in the world at it. I am one of the best in the world at predicting the market, thus my desire to trade is merely to realize my own ability. It is not to trade for trading sake.

    As for degrees/fields in general, you can look at what happened to in the IT field, to lawyers, and to MBA and gasp even drug dealers. The people who got in early made a ton. The market corrected or over corrected. Those left were chasing illusions. Finance/trading is in one of those corrections.

    Adam, I agree with your sentiment that some forms of trading can be inductive. This is a good dichotomy, do you self focus or do you market focus? Self focus will lead to greater internal strengths but we all know the most skilled are not always the people who have the job or make the money. I worked for years to make myself a better programmer, always getting better and better and wondering why I didn’t get hired. I always knew that the programmers who worked in the field were way better. If I could just get a bit better.. The truth was I was a better programmer when I was born then most in the field!

    If I had not taken a step back at some point and looked at the market and how people made decisions and what they wanted then I’d be a great and poor hacker today. It took me over a decade to learn that.

  9. Of course, being in top 10% to 30% is not the same as being in top 1%. This is another something that I only realized after a long time. The MSFT’s and GOOGLES of the world hire only the top 10%. If you are “only” better then 89% of others then you will need a degree.You see, the best in the world are the only that can evaluate you. But they will only hire the very best in the world. The mom and pop shops can’t evaluate you. Take notes, it takes an expert to know an expert.So it boils down to this, mom&pop will want a degree because they don’t know any better and the big boys will want one too. If you’re a Craig Mullins, just do whatever you want. However, if you find yourself better then most but not all, think twice.

  10. Hi Bella!

    Important Question.

    How did this prospect catch your attention? Was it from an email he sent asking for assistance?

    The reason I’m asking this is because i tried getting a Head Trader’s attention, but unfortunately my emails went to the wayside, which i completely understand since He lives a busy life.

    If i were to do it again, what could i say to make it stand out this time??

  11. I see you deleted my comment. Got to keep the blog legit right, whatever it takes to perpetuate the day trading lie.

  12. Randomwalker,

    I personally deleted your previous comment because it was abusive. It started with “you are an idiot”, and went on to include words like “piker” and “scam”. I actually considered editing your comment and responding to it, because you did raise some interesting points for discussion. In the end, I decided that someone hiding behind an anonymous email address ([email protected]? lol) and false name did not deserve a reply.

    If you will kindly email me from a real email address, I will be happy to address your concerns about math and trading, and the validity of daytrading in general. I realize the internet has probably been responsible for a general deterioration in common courtesy, but I will not have a discussion with someone sniping at me from the cover of a false identity.

    I’m pretty sure you already have my email address, so I hope you will take this invitation to a discussion seriously. I look forward to addressing your questions.

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