Our story that listed specific reasons the hiring recovery is bypassing many financial market pros touched a nerve with some users. So here are our tips for getting past the barriers we described.
The story wasn't meant to make anyone feel like a pariah. If you're not a producer or your background includes something a headhunter would consider a blemish, you can still land a new job in finance. But your search will be more challenging than the impression you might be getting from all those "Wall Street Hiring Boom" headlines we've been seeing lately.
If you're saddled by one of the issues we listed, here's what you can do about it.
1. Lack of pedigree names on your resume.
For detailed advice dealing with this issue, see our 2007 story, Overcoming a Resume That Lacks 'Big Names'.
2. Your resume fails to show clear upward career progress over the last five years or so.
How you'll finesse this depends on your situation - whether you changed careers, got sidetracked by a merger or management shake-up a level or three above you, were recruited into a firm that then suffered a business reversal, and so on. You'll need to create and rehearse (well before interviewing, of course) a pitch that follows a few general principles:
- The role you seek appears to be a logical outgrowth of your recent professional activities and/or your personal character, natural abilities and preferences.
- Your previous supervisors and their managements all made wise decisions in their dealings with you. Any setbacks you had were your responsibility alone - but what you learned from your past mistakes will make you a stronger performer in the future.
- You've been going the extra mile to advance your career by voluntarily taking on extra projects both in and out of work. The latter could include taking professional development courses, pursuing an advanced degree or certification, running events or serving on committees or boards of professional associations, or performing volunteer work for charities (especially work that displays specific career skills).
3. You can't show with numbers how you contribute to revenue or profit.
See our May 2010 story, Resumes Need Accomplishments. What's an Accomplishment?
4. The role you're aiming for differs significantly from what you did in your most recent role.
See point #2 above, especially its initial tip: The role you seek is a logical outgrowth of your recent professional activities and/or your personal character, natural abilities and preferences.
It's perfectly acceptable to emphasize a prior role as one that reflects your career plans and abilities better than your latest one does. If that prior job ended more than a few years ago, however, you'll have a bigger challenge. In that case, a resume screener might think your skills or contacts from that prior job have eroded. And an interviewer is sure to ask why you stayed so long in a job (or jobs) that weren't what you really wanted.
5. There is a gap lasting longer than six months in your employment history anywhere during the past 10 years.
Again, the essential thing is to present a narrative that's both believable and shows you have always controlled your destiny, rather than letting your career path be dictated by events beyond your control.
6. You are currently unemployed.
See Our Take: Hidden Rules of the Candidate Selection Game.
A final point: As always in job-hunting, networking can relieve (if not cure) a multitude of ills. For every issue listed above, referrals or recommendations from people within or close to the target employer will go a long way toward getting you through the door.