Day Trading as a Career: Don't Make These Resume Mistakes
What Proprietary Trading Firms Want to See and Not See on Your Resume
While the number of day trading firms has decreased between the 1990's (when everyone wanted to day trade) and 2015, there are still day trading firms all over the world that hire traders to trade firm capital, or will leverage your capital, so you only need a fraction of the capital you'd need if you traded on your own (see How Much Capital to Day Trade Stocks, Futures, or Forex).
"Proprietary trading firms" seek out trainable or experienced traders to trade the firm's capital. The structure of each firm varies, but typically there is no salary or benefits--you don't make money until you are profitable. How proprietary firms operate isn't the scope of this article. If you are interested in day trading as a career, read more about proprietary trading, and find a list of firms.
It's a competitive field, and your resume and cover letter are your first steps into this world. Here are things to keep in mind when applying to a proprietary trading firm.
Don't Start Your Cover Letter With "Booyah"
Don't write what you think the hiring manager wants to hear. Quoting Jim Cramer, or other investors such as Warren Buffett, is not impressive. They aren't even day traders (read: Why Fundamentals Have No Place in Day Trading), and these firms typically only focus on short-term trading. Besides, quoting someone else or rattling off information isn't the same as being able to implement that knowledge to make money.
Be yourself; don't pretend to emulate someone else. Talk about you; that's the person that is hopefully going to be trading for this firm. The following points should help you get you across.
Don't List Key Personality Traits, Prove Them
Trading requires several key traits. They don't have to come easy to you--they don't come easy to most people--but you must have them. These include self-discipline, patience, precision, a thick skin (because the market will test you and your strategy like crazy), hard working and an ability to focus and stay focused. You also need to be able to let go of what has happened, and stay in the now moment; your last trade no longer matters, the next one does (see: Use the S.C.O.R.E. Method to Improve Your trading).
Listing these traits on a resume is useless.The person reading it doesn't know you, and everyone says they have these traits (or something similar). Separate yourself by proving it. Give brief examples highlighting how you are this type of person, how you exhibit these traits, and what you have accomplished using these traits. Be specific: a precise percentage improvement says a lot more than just saying "increased productivity."
If You Have No Consistent Trading Track Record, Leave it Off the Resume
Watching CNBC doesn't count as trading experience. In fact, even listing all the trading books you have read may deter the reader. Unless you have profitable--live, real money--trading experience, don't try to make yourself sound like an expert. Firms want people who are eager to learn (The Day Trading Academy offers a great training program) and listen to instruction. It speeds up the training process.
Most financial knowledge isn't applicable today trading (Popular Trading "Wisdumb" that will Make You Broke). You don't have to play down your achievements or prior work experience if it was in the financial field, but trying to prove that it will make you better day trader may not work to your advantage.
Wearing Shorts to Work Doesn't Mean This Isn't Serious Business
Day trading is serious business, even though trading floors tend to have a pretty relaxed environment. Often there aren't dress codes because traders just sit in front of their monitors...and you can do that in shorts and a t-shirt. Many firms don't have physical locations; you trade for them, but you do it from your own home. Each firm is different, though, and just because you have a mental image of day trading in your pajamas, don't take the job lightly. If you come across as flippant, or a know-it-all, you won't get a call-back.
Getting an interview is the easiest part. Make your resume honest, humble and highlight your eagerness to learn. Be specific about what you have accomplished using key trader traits. Trading is serious business; you can make or lose thousands in a matter of seconds. If you create a good resume, and nail the interview, then the real work begins..