We're back in school and now we are looking for a job. Here's another chapter in the primer -- how not to get hired on Wall Street.
Okay, so this kid comes to see me looking for a job. Like everybody, the kid's supposed to be dyn-o-mite. Of course, I am doing a favor for somebody to see the guy. That's how it always is. Nobody ever really wants to see anybody in our business because nobody ever wants to hire an entry-level person. Heck, but you never know. So I tell the kid to come in at 7:30 a.m. He shows up at 7:45 a.m. with nothing except his resume in hand.
Rule No. 1:
Be there at 7:15 when 7:30 is called for. You never know when you may catch the target (me) before his assistant comes in to block you (not at my place, of course, because everybody has been in for an hour already).
Rule No. 2:
Don't come in empty-handed. Bring donuts. Bring bagels. Heck, bring coffee. Bring a ^%#^#$Egg McMuffin. But don't just bring yourself. Nobody wants to see you anyway. They always want to see a Dunkin' Donut.
So he sits down and I ask him why he wants to see me. He hems and haws, something about the market. Something about looking to change careers.
Rule No. 3:
You are there because you can make me money. If you can't, I don't want to see you. We are in the money business, not the life-changing business and not the
Works Progress Administration
I ask him what he likes about the stock market. He says it's exciting. I ask him where does he get his information, what he reads. He says the
once or twice. Wrong!
Rule No. 4:
You read everything. You devour
-- believe me every trading and sales desk reads us, so you will make a great impression. You never miss a
. You read
Investor's Business Daily
. And you watch
because we all do.
I ask what he likes in the stock market. He says the market is too high. So I ask him what he would short. He says he doesn't know, and then he mentions
, "because it missed the numbers."
Rule No. 5:
Be ready with a half-dozen ideas. If you don't like the market, be ready with a half dozen shorts. Know where they went out, their 52-week range, their price-to-earnings multiple, the president of the company, what they do and who follows them. If you can, find out what the analysts at the firm you are interviewing at think of your picks. Be combat-ready. Anticipate.
I ask him what he can bring to the party that is special. He shrugs.
Rule No. 6:
You can bring hustle. Everybody in my business likes a hustler. In fact we can teach hustlers and we don't mind doing so.
I tell him to leave.
This interview did not have to be painful. When you get your 15 minutes, use them wisely. While I am not hiring, periodically someone puts the screws to me to see somebody to "help him." They are always the same. They are always a waste of my time.
Don't you waste someone else's time. Know the answers. Know the etiquette. Don't be interview roadkill.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-chairman of TheStreet.com. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Mr. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he welcomes your feedback, emailed to