It’s a fair question isn’t it? Thousands of candidates sign up for the exam in large part with the hope of finding a new job or getting some type of promotion in their current one. The question then becomes: “At what point can I start looking for a new job?” As you can imagine, there is no clear answer to that question because it very much depends on each candidate, the experience, contacts, etc.
That being said, from my personal experience, I would tend to say that candidates that have passed the CFA Level #1 exam gain a clear competitive advantage ahead of many others. It’s not so much about the fact that you passed that one exam but rather about the employer getting a young and very motivated candidate. While they will obviously aspire to hire candidates who have finished the three exams, they would prefer anyone who has passed level #1 and seems motivated about passing all the exams.
What Are Your Selling Points As A Level #1 Candidate?
-Cheaper: Finding employees that have passed the three levels might be ideal but how expensive do you think that will become for the employer? Let’s not forget that CFA charterholders generally make very solid salaries making their recruiting quite a challenge
-Easier to find: You know what? As a level #2 candidate (that is what level #1 successful candidates should call themselves), you are part of a select minority. But what is even rarer is a candidate who has passed the 3 exams. Those generally have good jobs already and it becomes difficult to recruit them.
-Eager to learn: The very fact that you are going through the CFA exam shows how motivated you are to improve your skills and knowledge. That is very attractive for any employer looking for long term candidates.
-Ready to move on: Once you are involved in the CFA program, it usually does not take very long to figure out what type of job you are looking for. That is a big difference with out of school candidates that do not know enough to have a clear vision for what they’re aspiring to become.
Sure It Will Be Better…
Of course, you will be in an ideal position to find your dream job after passing the three levels of the exam and even more once you hold your charter (experience accepted). But I think that unless you truly see a future where you currently are, starting to look for other opportunities once you pass your level #1 is the right thing to do.