not always recruiters fault

Last week, an ex-connection of mine who previously called me a derogatory name and told me to “know my place” submitted his resume for the 9th time and for the 9th time received a note telling him that he wasn’t a fit for my client’s search. The torrent of words and phrases he used this time in response was an unfortunate sight to behold. He became belligerent and got personal. This is someone I have known in this industry for over a decade and have respected for his skills. I also thought we knew the other better. He decided to “shoot the messenger!”

Every recruiter/search professional/hiring manager who posts an advertisement seeking candidates for their job has a wish that out of the pool of applications, that a number who respond will be a fit for it. We hope that a prospect will take the time to read the job description, make a note of all the details in the responsibilities section and then take to heart the requirements for the role before submitting their resume. Sadly, this isn’t always the case.

I have talked previously about the three major pillars of a search (subject matter, skill set, and experience) and how each one is vitally important in determining the fit for the role. Experience- one of the three- seems to be a major disconnect with many would-be candidates. While I appreciate that eleven years ago you traded FX, it does not mean that somehow you are qualified for a job trading equities today. In this particular case where the professional was overtly unprofessional, my search was for a expert, and his only connection to my search was work on another continent a half decade ago for a six- month period. The abuse he heaped on me was fine for him. I am just one recruiter in an ocean full of them, and I am sure he must have other bridges to cross since he was determined to burn the one to me to the foundation. Mission accomplished!

But, who prospered from this arrangement? He lost a market contact and I lost a potential candidate for searches in his wheelhouse. We had previously discussed what those might be in the future and he disregarded or forgot that when he applied.   I wish to avoid such happenstances in the future.

It raises an interesting issue… the idea of “pivoting” in this market. As we write and read this, banks are preparing for another severe round of cost cutting and layoffs. DB, HSBC, BNP, Standard Chartered, etc. have all announced reorganizations recently and so those who seek new jobs want to transition to better markets, better roles and better compensation. Why not? Isn’t this the land of opportunity? Shouldn’t we be free to apply to any job we wish, for any pay we want and have our resumes reviewed? Can’t we take our values and skills and apply it elsewhere in these markets? The answer of course to all these is still a resounding: Yes!

But, when candidates do that, they need to be prepared to hear “sorry, they will not be interviewed for the role” because they aren’t a fit. They can unload on the executive search professional, and that might help them release some frustration, but this type of “recruitment rage” isn’t going to help them achieve their goals. So…how does one pivot in this market?

Remember the Three Pillars I spoke of earlier? In July, I wrote a piece called the Three Pillars of an Opportunity. I outlined that the three: skill set, experience and subject matter expertise are all counted equally in the thought process of the hiring manager when determining the fit for their job.

Yet, for those who wish to pivot, the opportunity might exist. It is important to only respond to jobs that take into account your knowledge of the subject matter and your skill set when applying. Lead with subject matter knowledge, and if the skill sets are similar, then apply. But, it is important that it is your recent experience and not something that you did too many years ago. Hiring managers do not want to interview candidates who are vastly overqualified, or have overachieved or surpassed too greatly their need. Additionally some parallels can be made for trading to risk management, sales to relationship management, research to portfolio management. Of course it is easier for all to join consulting, or advisory services, yet, the degree to which your background is a fit is gray and not clear cut. Remember, interviewing is more art than science, otherwise, some smart guy would design a model or algorithm and the interview would be a formality, afterthought or no longer necessary.


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